Stores jammed as residents load up

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Shoppers lined up outside Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn on Sunday evening in preparation for the blizzard. Photo by Mary Frost.

“Prepare for the worst,” Mayor Bill de Blasio advised New Yorkers on Sunday — and prepare they did.

Residents hit the stores in droves to purchase food, water and basic necessities before the arrival of what the National Weather Service called “a life threatening, historic winter storm,” expected to hit the city Monday afternoon and last through Tuesday.

By 5:30 p.m., the line outside Trader Joe’s in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn stretched around the corner of Court Street and down Atlantic Avenue. An employee monitoring the entrance said, “This happens every snow emergency. Sunday is always busy; add a snow warning on top of that…”

“Everybody’s going crazy,” a cashier at the Garden of Eden on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights said. “People are loading up.”

Fox 5’s Teresa Priolo tweeted a  photo of “Whole Foods looking more like wholezoo.”

One shopper complained that she couldn’t find bananas anywhere. “They’re the first to go,” she told this reporter. “You want to feed your kids something, you give them a banana.”

A blizzard warning goes into effect for the city at 1 p.m. Monday and lasts until midnight on Tuesday. Brooklyn could be hit with two to three feet of snow, along with wind gusts up to 50 mph, wind chills as low as zero and white-out conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined the preparations for the storm on Sunday, and warned resident not to underestimate its power.

“We are facing most likely one of the largest snow storms in the history of this city,” he said.

He urged people to stay off the roads. “By rush hour Monday, we will have a serious problem on our hands.”

The mayor said 2,400 Sanitation employees will work around the clock, and the city will be running 1,500 snow plows.

There could be significant shutdowns of subway service as well. Outdoor trains may be taken out of service ahead of the evening commute as trains are stored underground, which will affect express service.

Schools will be open on Monday for the regular school day. Schools will also administer Regents exams as scheduled. All after-school programs, PSAL, and evening adult education programs will be canceled. School field trips will also be canceled.

But kids are likely looking at a snow day on Tuesday. “We’ll make a final decision [on Monday] regarding school on Tuesday, “but it’s likely it will be closed,” the mayor said.

Alternate Side Parking Regulations will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday. Payment at parking meters will remain in effect throughout the city.

Officials warned that strong winds could blow down trees and break off branches, disrupting power lines.

Roads including the Thruway, I-84 and the Long Island Expressway, and public transit networks including the LIRR, PATH and Metro North Railroad may be closed ahead of the evening commute, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at NYC airports Sunday night, and more than a thousand more are expected to be canceled Monday and Tuesday. Travelers should check with carriers before heading to the train station or airport.

The Greater NY Red Cross says it has placed volunteers on alert. If travel is necessary, put a disaster supply kit in your vehicle including a shovel, blanket, flashlight, water, snacks, first aid kit, extra batteries and a sack of sand or cat litter, the organization advised. At home, charge your cell phone and make sure you have flashlight batteries.

People with a heat or hot water problem should call 311 immediately.

The ASPCA reminds pet owners to bring pets inside immediately, and limit their time outside through the duration of the storm. Depending on their breed, they may need a coat and booties. Clean their paws immediately upon returning indoors to remove dangerous chemicals like antifreeze and ice melts. Always walk them with their leash, collar and ID tag, ASPCA says. If you see a pet in distress, call 311.

New Yorkers are advised to stay out of parks during the storm. The NYC Department of Parks will be tracking downed trees and tree limbs throughout the city. Property owners and store fronts are reminded to clear their sidewalk areas of snow and ice as soon as possible.

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