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After Sandy, Many Staten Islanders To Stick Out Nor'easter At Home

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Hurricane Sandy flooded Kevin Oafeleyn's home, shattered his windows, knocked down a few of the interior walls, ruined most of his belongings and leveled the homes of several of his neighbors. But with another storm approaching and the first icy raindrops pelting the debris that lines his street, Oafeleyen still hasn't made up his mind to leave.

"I want to see what this storm does," he said. "If it floods again, then I'm out of here."

Many residents of Staten Island, the Rockaways and other coastal areas that were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy are staying in their homes tonight, despite the city's warning that the storm could be dangerous.

"In light of the beach erosion and other damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, some of the lowest-lying areas in the city – particularly the areas flooded by last week’s storm – are vulnerable to storm surge today," Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office said in a statement.

"No general evacuations have been ordered, but if you experienced significant flooding during Hurricane Sandy, you should consider taking shelter with family and friends, who do not live in low-lying areas, or go to one of the City-run storm shelters."

"Shelter?" said Brian Smith, 39, who grew up in the New Dorp area of Staten Island and has been helping with the cleanup effort there. Standing by a trash can fire on a ruined street, he laughed and shook his head. "These people have been here 40, 50 years," he said. "They're not going anywhere."

In neighborhoods like New Dorp Beach on Staten Island and Coney Island in Brooklyn, many residents chose to ride out Hurricane Sandy rather than take refuge with relatives or in a shelter. They feared their homes would be looted in their absence or were put off by the inconvenience of relocating, and many have said that they simply had no way of knowing that the storm would be so awful. But even with the lessons of that storm behind them, residents in these battered neighborhoods are staying put.

"There are people running around robbing these places," said John Scicchitano, a 50-year-old furniture builder who lives in a bungalow a block from the beach in New Dorp.

According to Bloomberg's office, the nor'easter on Wednesday night could bring sustained winds of 25 to 40 miles per hour to the city, causing a 3 to 5-foot storm surge. That may pale in comparison to Hurricane Sandy, which caused surges as high as 13 feet in parts of New York. But, as the Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro said on Tuesday, these areas are in a "very, very vulnerable condition."

With snow accumulating in some areas and the winds resuming their assault on trees that were weakened by last week's storm, falling limbs and downed power lines could prove especially dangerous.

Outside Scicchitano's bungalow, at least three tall trees were already standing at unnatural angles, and one had partially collapsed into a bundle of overhead telephone wires, causing the wires to pull an electrical box mounted to the outside of his house out of position.

Yet as the storm bore down and snow began to fall, Scicchatano was hunkered down inside with his generator on. He said it would take "another tidal wave on the block" to persuade him to relocate. "If there's no water on the block," he said, "I'm not leaving."

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