Hilton, N.Y. – Some lakefront residents questioned why a mandatory evacuation order was issued in the middle of the Sandy-related storm that swept through the Rochester region Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Monroe County issued the order to 2,200 residents Monday at 8 p.m., several hours after the storm began. The order was lifted at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
On West Wautoma Beach Road in Hamlin some residents left and others did not.
“My husband and I spent 20 minutes arguing about whether we were going to evacuate,” said Maggie Kelly.
“I was saying no, because if we really had to do it, we should have done it way before,” said Jonathan Kelly. “By that time the storm was almost in full effect.”
The couple ended up going to a friend’s house in Irondequoit.
“I figured why bother? I’ve been through worse than this down here so I was not leaving,” said 40-year resident Diane DeLosh, who noted the lake levels seemed low and she still had power. “There wasn’t anything that told me to get out – nothing.”
Chuck Lutwiller, who’s lived on the street for 58 years, slept through the robocall that notified the neighborhood of the evacuation order. Police knocked on his door after midnight.
“I says there’s no way I’m going to get in my car and go out of here,” said Lutwiller said. “So when he left I just went back in my house went back to bed…I figure it was like four or five hours late.”
“I don’t think it was late,” said County Executive Maggie Brooks. “We did three hyper-reach calls and the very first one strongly encouraged people to consider moving in with a friend, moving in with a relative.”
Brooks said her team spent a long time assessing the risk before issuing the order. It’s not clear if there was an additional threat that emerged later in the day.
“It’s not an exact science. Safety has to be the most important requirement. If we feel the safety of the public could be compromised in any way, we’re going to make that order,” Brooks said. “I would rather apologize for being overcautious than have to apologize or explain a death or an injury or something even more devastating, so I think we made the right call.”
In the end there was very little damage along the lakefront.
“It just didn’t seem like that dire an emergency,” said Maggie Kelly.