Share Your Hurricane Irene Stories and Photos With The Local (Plus: All The Latest)

Good evening, East Village.

Angela Cravens, a community contributor at The Local, has shared her photos of the neighborhood preparing for Hurricane Irene earlier today, and we want to see yours, as well. (By the way, she tells us a sign posted at Villa Della Pace tells Irene, in Italian, to go do something very not nice.) If you have anything to share with your neighbors now that the rain has driven you indoors (Gothamist has the latest on what to expect now that the Category 1 hurricane is 300 miles away), leave your comments below. Have a longer story that you’d like The Local to post? E-mail the editor. Have photos? Join The Local’s Flickr group, and we’ll add them to the gallery above. And feel free to alert us to any developments (no matter how large or small) via our Twitter page, if that’s your preference. We’re listening.

Elsewhere around the Internet, everyone from the Guardian in the U.K. (which noted lines down the block at Trader Joe’s) to the usual neighborhood blogs were eying local supermarkets today: EV Grieve reported that the Associated on Avenue C was primed to set a single-day sales record, and posted photos from Key Food and Fine Fare. A manager at Key Food told the Wall Street Journal of “chaos” there (the store was already running low on certain supplies when we checked in on grocery stores yesterday).

According to a tweet from NYC Streets, the Astor Place Walgreens will stay open 24-hours all weekend, and so will Ray’s Candy Store. Amsterdam Billiards has also vowed to stay open all weekend, as has Mud Coffee. The manager at McSorley’s tells The Post, “We’ve been here 157 years and I don’t think a little hurricane will bother us.” Parkside Lounge, Billy Hurricane’s, and others are throwing parties. In Vino is running a brunch special all weekend, and Frank, Supper, and Edi & the Wolf are among the restaurants tweeting that they’ll stay open tonight.

Other businesses and residents are taping up their windows (sometimes comically so). The Lo-Down posted a list of events that had been canceled and businesses that were due to close today and tomorrow, and EV Grieve noted that Tompkins Square Park had been closed. Restaurants like Dirt Candy, DBGB, Momofuku, and Peels have closed, and Eater pointed out that even the indefatigable Veselka planned to close at 4 pm today (that site’s “Ultimate Hurricane Dining Map” includes updated hours for Northern Spy Company, This Little Piggy, Vandaag, and others.) Terroir tweeted that it had closed and was working on its meatballs, and The Local spotted a sign indicating that Ost Café had closed “due to impending apocalypse/Armaggedon.”

Meanwhile on the evacuation front, Daniel Squadron tweeted this afternoon that less than 25% of residents in the Lillian Wald Houses on Avenue D had evacuated (“Most residents are reluctant,” a Housing Authority worker told DNAinfo). Runnin’ Scared also observed that evacuations were light at the Jacob Riis Houses, and around 2:30 p.m., The Lo-Down noted that despite an earlier evacuation order, not many families were boarding evacuation buses at the Alfred E. Smith Houses. That blog posted photos from the Smith Houses, as well as from elsewhere around town.

But some families are seeking safety: The Wall Street Journal reported that “a steady trickle of largely Asian and Latino residents from nearby Lower East Side apartment complexes filed into the Seward Park High School.”

Have more news? Please do comment or contribute.

Update | 10:59 p.m. At a press conference, Mayor Bloomberg warned that a Tornado Watch is now in effect until 5 am in the five boroughs and in Nassau, Suffolk, and Rockaway counties. He said, “The time for evacuation is over. Everyone should now go inside and stay inside until weather conditions improve, which won’t likely be until Sunday afternoon.”

Update | 5:23 a.m. A rain-drenched walk around the neighborhood around 4 am this morning found the streets of the East Village between First Avenue and Avenue B more or less completely empty. Aside from police vehicles staking out intersections and the occasional luckless cab trolling the avenues, sidewalks and roads were abandoned as rain spilled down and intermittent winds shook small branches out of trees lining Tompkins Square Park. Even St. Marks Place between Third and Second Avenues was silent, as only a handful of wanderers were observed during an hour-long period.

Still, some businesses (mainly bodegas) remained open: The lights were on at Gem Spa, Sheen Brothers, Village Farm, East Village Market, 118 First Avenue Food, First Avenue Finest Gourmet, and Hamptons Marketplace. Ray Alvarez manned the counter at Ray’s Candy Store, though no customers were present when The Local happened by.

Earlier in the morning, Grassroots Tavern played host to just half a dozen to a dozen drinkers before closing by 2 am. A small leak in the ceiling was dampening the floor – and causing the jukebox to be out of order – and the bartender decided it was time to go home.

Update | 10:00 a.m. The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Irene to a tropical storm, though hurricane warnings remain in effect until 11 a.m. The storm is said to have made landfall at 9 a.m. at Coney Island, but at the moment, rain and winds have died off in the East Village. A spokesman for the Office of Emergency Management tells The Times, “Things look better than we anticipated.” However, a tweet from the Metro desk indicates that 60,000 Con Ed customers are without power in New York City (a look at Con Ed’s map shows that few of those outages are in Manhattan). There have been reports of flooding on FDR Drive (the city has seen 6.2 inches of rain) as well as downed trees in Tompkins Square Park, Seward Park, and other locations.

Update | 3:00 p.m. Photos added to The Local’s gallery show trees and branches downed in and around Tompkins Square Park, which was still closed this afternoon. EV Grieve found another tree down near Fifth Street and Avenue A. Perhaps the biggest loss, and the one that drew the most gawkers (and a Daily News reporter) was a willow tree uprooted at La Plaza Cultural. The Lo-Down and Gamma Blog have more photos of flooding in East River Park this morning. The waters had subsided by the time The Local visited later in the day.

With almost every other eatery closed, lines were down the block at Mud Coffee this morning. Businesses like Zum Schneider and Kafana on Avenue C, as well as the Rosa Deli on Avenue D, were seen pumping water from flooded basements around noon, when the Sunburnt Cow was one of the first restaurants to reopen. On the brunch-time playlist: “Riders on the Storm.”