POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. -- A week after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast, wiping out entire communities, residents were bracing for yet another potentially damaging storm.
A nor'easter taking shape Monday in the Gulf of Mexico was expected to begin its march up the coast, eventually passing Wednesday within 50 to 100 miles of the wounded New Jersey coastline. The storm was expected to bring winds as high as 55 mph, coastal flooding, as much as 2 inches of rain along the shore and several inches of snow to Pennsylvania and New York.
One of the biggest fears was that the storm could bring renewed flooding to parts of the shore where Sandy wiped out natural beach defenses and protective dunes. "It's going to impact many areas that were devastated by Sandy," said National Weather Service lead forecaster Bruce Terry. "It will not be good."
Some communities were considering again evacuating neighborhoods that were hit hard by Sandy, and where residents had only recently been allowed to return. No town had made a final decision to do so as of Monday evening.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided against a new round of evacuations. "When Sandy was coming in, all the signs said that we were going to have a very dangerous, damaging storm, and I ordered a mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas, something that a lot of people don't like to hear," he said. "In this case, we don't think that it merits that. It is a different kind of storm; the wind is coming from a different direction."
In Point Pleasant Beach, Laura DiPasquale was frantically going through dozens of black plastic trash bags that volunteers had stuffed full of her household belongings and brought to the curb, trying to make sure that nothing she intended to keep had gotten tossed out with debris such as waterlogged drywall. Already, she had found treasured Christmas ornaments amid the detritus.
"I don't know where anything is; I can't even find my checkbook," she said. "I have no idea what's in any of these bags. And now, another storm is coming, and I feel enormous pressure. I don't know if I can do this again. It is so overwhelming."
The new storm was expected to move up the coast today, past Georgia and South Carolina. By Wednesday morning, it was expected to be off Virginia or Cape Hatteras, N.C.
Mr. Terry said the storm could slow down somewhat once it gets off the New Jersey coast, meaning that its effects could linger. They include rain, high winds and tidal surges, although less than those that accompanied Sandy. Coastal flood and high-wind watches were in effect for parts of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urged residents to take the storm seriously. "Everything people did to get people ready for Sandy, we need to do for the nor'easter," she said.
She urged people to check on their neighbors, especially the elderly. "We have people who want to stay in their homes," Ms. Napoletano said. "We know that."
On Staten Island in New York City, Irina Vainauskas and her husband survived Sandy, even as water reached the third step of the staircase from their living room to their second floor. They went upstairs with food, water and their cats. They're prepared to do it again, if necessary.
"Of course, we're concerned, but we're just too tired to be afraid and to think about everything," she said in her ravaged living room. "We're survivors. We're from the former Soviet Union," she added. "If we survive the Soviet Union, we will survive this storm, too."