As they did to his neighbors, police knocked on Brian McIlwee’s door at about 3 a.m. Saturday and told him there had been a gas leak nearby and he had to evacuate.
Unlike his neighbors, McIlwee, 28, and his roommate said "no."
“I was not going to sit in a gym with all those people,” he said.
McIlwee, who lives on Mastic Bouelvard, less than half a mile from the Kohl’s store where a leaking propane tank was discovered early Saturday morning, said he saw police patrolling up and down the street throughout the morning and at one point he Rollerbladed down Montauk Highway to get to a convenience store.
He had no intention of leaving, he said, but around noon, police were banging on his door again.
“They said if you don’t leave now, we can get a court order to get you out,” McIlwee said.
So McIlwee and his roommate agreed because they didn't want to be “forced out,” McIlwee said. He said he went to play poker a friend’s house in Patchogue and returned home at about 10 p.m., after seeing on TV that residents were allowed into their homes.
On Sunday, McIlwee still defended his decision to stay.
“Why would we leave?” he said. "There was no way any blast was reaching here.”