Luxury Living in Zone A: Williamsburg High Rises Ignore Evacuation Even as Landlords Lock Down Towers

2012 10 28 18 40 54 Luxury Living in Zone A: Williamsburg High Rises Ignore Evacuation Even as Landlords Lock Down Towers

In Williamsburg, the window tape gets creative. (Matt Chaban)

One couple living at The Edge and pushing a stroller with their 1-year-old son, who did not care to share their names, said they had stocked up on board games for the weekend. The boy was 11 days old when Irene hit, and that had been quite the odyssey to a hotel, so the family had decided to take their chances, which they felt were quite good. “Until we were accosted by the cops, who really were quite rude,” the wife admitted. In addition to their board games, there would be plenty of wine.

Alcohol was a common provision. Six packs, 12 packs, cases of beer and wine laded down the hands and carts of many Brooklynites this day. Those gold-striped black plastic bags, the ubiquitous tote of the corner liquor store, were everywhere. “We gonna get crazy,” declared a young man walking into The Edge Community Apartments, a pair of five-story brick buildings at the back of The Edge that are home to the project’s affordable units. “We’ll be drowning in something.”

“We’re in New York,” Iona Barrow said of her decision to stay put. “We’re not in Miami or one of those tragic places. It’ll never be that bad.” And if it was, for once, being farther upland than her tony neighbors had its advantages. What the brick buildings might lack in views they gained in stolidity. Still, it was nice to know, no matter class or creed, a certain perseverance ran throughout the waterfront.

This was not the case for everyone. “If it’s crazy hurricane winds, can you imagine the shit flying through those windows,” Eric Davidson said. He was wheeling a a large black suitcase up North Seventh Street, an entire 48-count plastic-wrapped case of Poland Spring water balanced on top, along with a bag over each shoulder. A photographer, Mr. Davidson had had to cancel a shoot planned for Monday in Manhattan as well as a flight that evening to L.A. for more work. He was mostly rescuing his equipment, and he saw evacuation more as a matter of civic duty than personal safety.

“I don’t think this is going to be Irene-strength,” Mr. Davidson said. “All I know is the people who don’t leave, they’re the ones who are going to put the emergency personnel into harm’s way if anything happens, and that’s just not right.”

At Northside Piers, John and Maggie Segrich were going to stay until they heard about the misdemeanor threats from the cops, who came into the building and gave stern warnings to those in the lobby. “We were looking forward to taking photos,” Mr. Segrich said, as he loaded bags into a black cab that had just pulled up. Now they would be staying in the W in Manhattan instead. “It’s urban camping,” Ms. Segrich joked.

Dick Matthews had just driven up from Bucks County to pick up his daughter. She had planned on staying until the management company decided to lock down the building. She called around 3 p.m., Mr. Matthews said, and he immediately got in the car and headed up. He had made the same trip a year before, for Irene. “She regretted it, because nothing really happened and we kept power but lost internet, which was really annoying for her,” Mr. Matthews said. “She couldn’t wait to get back.” This time up, he was surprised by the light traffic.

Meanwhile, Justin Broomfield was unpacking his BMW SUV across the driveway, setting a suitcase, two golf bags, a case of wine and three cases of beer onto a dolly. He said he had just returned from a business trip, otherwise his family would have been packed out to their place in the country instead of making do at home. “I think our Toll Brothers construction can hold up,” Mr. Broomfield said, referring to the building’s developer. “Besides, we’re on the 26th floor, so we’ll have a good view of the storm.”

If anything, that was the most remarkable thing to hear. There was frustration, fear, indifference and excitement swirling around the storm, but almost no one would trade their life on the waterfront for something a little safer and less dramatic. “I guess if this became an annual thing, I might start to think about moving, but it’s pretty nice otherwise,” Mr. Broomfield said.

Even if global warming should run its course and these evacuations do become a yearly ritual, few seemed to care.

“This is not a hole in the ground,” Jim Butler, the stereo enthusiast, said. “The waters will come in, and then they will recede. It’s not New Orleans. It’ll be a big deal for a day or two, and then we get to go back to living our life on the waterfront, which is just the greatest place to be.”

“They just need more flood-control measures if it’s going to happen every year,” Mr. Butler added. “I think these condos are the best thing to happen to New York City in a long time.”