For nearly 40 years, Vincent McManus served as an emergency responder in Nassau County, helping people through hurricanes and other disasters. But now, having moved to Florida a year ago, he is focused on protecting his own home and family should Hurricane Dorian come knocking.
"It's strange only having to worry about myself and my immediate family, rather than 1.3 million people" in Nassau County, said McManus, 57, now living in Delray Beach.
This could be the first hurricane he actually spends at home, not responding to others, since he was a teen on Long Island.
Weather forecasters struggled to predict Saturday where the massive storm would hit land. They have expanded the possible landfall sites to anywhere between South Florida and the Carolinas.
In the process, they also widened the window of worry to include more people. Long Island transplants to these areas say they are seeing people flooding supermarkets for supplies, throwing hurricane shutters over windows, and desperate residents seeking gasoline as if it were oxygen.
McManus said he relaxed a bit Saturday when forecasters predicted the storm could shift north and miss his home. But having seen the havoc these storms can cause — he lost a Long Island home to superstorm Sandy — he's not about to be caught flat-footed.
"This is the emergency manager in me," said McManus, who served in the Nassau County fire marshal's office and as a volunteer firefighter in Oceanside, Long Beach and Lynbrook over the years. "I'm fairly organized after preaching preparedness for so long."
His to-do checklist is formidable. He's picked up bottles of water for drinking as well as gallon jugs for bathing. He has his valuable documents in a folder, as well as a "to-go kit" containing water, power bars and maps should he lose the internet service on his smartphone. He's packed in extra ice in the freezers, one in the kitchen and another in the garage, to keep food cold should the power fail. He bought another cooler, even though he has three.
That's not all. He's filled up both cars with gas (as well as a portable gas container), has a small generator on hand (recently tested), and has flashlights and a portable radio (with fresh batteries, of course.)
"I may be overthinking this," he said.
McManus saw the devastation wrought by superstorm Sandy in an up-close and personal way. His East Atlantic Beach house, about a block from the water, flooded with 5 feet of water and he had to abandon and sell the home.
Meanwhile, Gary Manns said he felt as if hurricanes have been all but following him over the years. When he moved from upstate to Dix Hills in 1985, Hurricane Gloria struck his home a month later.
This July, he bought a second home in Melbourne, Florida, and now he's bracing for Mother Nature to send him another meteorological nightmare.
"This is crazy," said Manns, 62, of Shirley. "If anybody wants to see a hurricane, just ask me about where to buy a house."
News that the storm, packing winds up to 140 mph, might hit her home near Bluffton, South Carolina, made Joni Kulick prick up her ears — and start preparing.
"As of yesterday, we took the precaution of booking a hotel room in Augusta [Georgia]," said Kulick, who retired with her husband, Larry, from Southold.
They're not hitting the panic button just yet. The couple has hurricane boards ready to go up. If the storm takes a bad turn, they'll secure their boat in the lake behind their house, pack up and head out.
"We're just going to wait and see," Kulick said. "It's silly to panic at this point."