Nutter to city residents: Take storm threat seriously

Posted: October 30, 2012

Mayor Nutter urged residents in flood prone areas to evacuate as Hurricane Sandy intensified, calling the response thus far "decent."

As of noon, some 300 residents of Philadelphia and the surrounding Pennsylvania suburbs had left their homes for shelters.

An estimated 10,000 city residents live in areas at risk of serious flooding, and officials have urged that they consider staying with family or friends, or move to shelters.

"Part of the challenge here for us is to strike an appropriate balance between non nonchalance and utter horror and fear," the mayor said at a noon press conference at West Philadelphia High School. "If you looked outside this morning, you might think, it's not so bad. All we can stress is it's going to get progressively worse."

As the center of the storm bore down on the region, officials said they opened 14 shelters and were prepared to open more if necessary.

At West Philadelphia High School, some 160 people had already turned up seeking shelter as of noon, according to the American Red Cross.

Renee Hughes, CEO of the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter, described the mood in area shelters as calm.

"Our job is to give them comfort and a sense of normalcy," she said.

Philadelphia started opening shelters at 4 p.m. Sunday, with more opening Monday morning.

Shelters in suburban counties were seeing a slow trickle of residents at noon. In Delaware County, the three designated shelters had yet to see a single resident since they opened Monday morning.

With President Obama declaring a state of emergency for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and surrounding states, Nutter urged residents in those neighborhoods known to flood to take the threat seriously and to call 311 with reports of downed trees and flooding.

As of noon, Philadelphia had seen little damage beyond downed tress and a partial building collapse on North 5th Street, Nutter said.

"Philadelphians are smart enough to figure out when the president of the United States.. issues a state of emergency, this is a bad storm," he said.

Contact Marie McCullough at

comments powered by Disqus