Battery Park City kicked into full evacuation mode on Saturday morning as fleets of yellow cabs flooded the neighborhood seeking fares from thousands of suitcase-toting evacuees.
The neighborhood was filled with the sounds of rolling suitcase wheels, taxi trunks thudding closed and, eventually, a strange and eerie silence that this area had not experienced since residents were evacuated after Sept. 11, 2001.
Roberta Kahn, a nurse who has lived in the neighborhood since the early 1980s, had been weighing which hotel to check into: the Tribeca Grand or the Waldorf-Astoria. But on Saturday morning, she instead packed her car with a few days’ worth of clothing and got ready to head out to Queens, where she will stay with an aunt.
While she was preparing for the worst, Ms. Kahn said, she was keeping Hurricane Irene in perspective, since she had to move out of her home for four months after the World Trade Center was attacked.
“This is nothing compared to 9/11,” she said.
Herve Gerard Yoh, 34, who works for a bank, had his wife’s sister, husband and two sons visiting from Paris this weekend. On Friday afternoon, he feverishly called around to hotels, trying to find rooms for his guests and his wife, 2-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. His office eventually helped find a place in Midtown.
“We found a solution for eight people,” he said with a smile.
On Saturday morning, Mr. Yoh was taking his children on a final stroll along the promenade before they headed uptown. He was trying to comfort his children’s worries about the hurricane.
“I’m scared of the water,” said his daughter, Maelys, as she clutched a Godiva shopping bag containing a pink computer and a cosmetic bag. Her younger brother simply clutched his bottle and studied his sister.
New Yorkers who decided to stay said they did not make their decision lightly. As Patrick Moore, a 48-year-old lawyer, walked his dog, Jasmine, on Saturday morning, he said he and his wife were aware their building would be locked and sandbagged. He said he was also prepared to lose power.
But he added that he survived a Category 1 hurricane in the 1980s while staying in a small wooden house in Texas near the center of the storm. In Battery Park, he said, water was less of a concern: his apartment is on the 19th floor.
“We’re not worried about flooding; I know it’s scary, and I know it’s going to be scary,” he said. “It’s a considered action.”
Alex Lokkinos and Joanna Hunt felt that they needed to stay. Their 6-month-old ridgebacks had been neutered on Thursday, and they said they did not feel comfortable traveling with the recovering dogs. A friend who offered to take them in has a small apartment, so they declined.
“The people we would go and stay with have been evacuated,” Mr. Lokkinos said.
Early on Saturday morning, the couple headed to the local supermarket to pick up supplies, like pasta. They planned to camp out in their 36th-floor rental apartment at the One West building through the storm.