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Inside Staten Island's Zone A

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IRENE NYC
Matt Sledge

Roughly 80,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes on Staten Island in New York City, but many in the mandatory evacuation "Zone A" appear to be hunkering down and riding out the storm, even after torrential rain from the approach of Hurricane Irene began to inundate the area early Saturday evening.

Borough President James P. Molinaro told the Staten Island Advance on Saturday afternoon that less than 1,000 people were using the island's evacuation shelters. "Response is very low," Molinaro said.

Midland Beach, on the island's south side, lies fully within the evacuation zone and experiences regular flooding, but several neighborhood residents told The Huffington Post they were taking their chances with the storm.

Bill Funk, 60, a handyman, said he planned to ride out the hurricane in a basement apartment about eight blocks from the beach. "I'm not really worried about the rain," he said. "It's the surge and the wind that's the problem."

Several of his neighbors were doing the same, he said. "You've got a couple die hards in the bungalows," he said, pointing to a row of small houses nearby.

Outside the Amazing Deli on Oceanside Avenue in the neighborhood of Dongan Hills, Artulo Araullo predicted the hurricane wouldn't be so bad.

"They're overreacting," he said. "I don't think this is going to be a big one."

Araullo had been down in New Orleans during Katrina, he added, and that was a big one. Tonight he thought he might head down to the pier to take a look at the water, weather permitting.

The deli was selling bait and tackle at a brisk pace to fishermen, some of whom apparently hoped -- despite warnings from deli patrons -- to sneak past the Parks Department employees and policemen patrolling the shoreline.

As the night wore on and the evacuation deadline passed, and the wind and rain were whipping the beach, parts of Father Capodanno Boulevard were sheer with water, and that idea seemed increasingly fanciful.