Last-minute preparations

Published 7:37 pm Friday, August 26, 2011

Mark Khubani, owner of Broadway Fashions on West Washington Street, tries to secure a bird’s nest under the awning of his store during hurricane preparations. “I don’t want anything to happen to the birds,” he said.

Mark Khubani gingerly placed a cut shoebox top behind part of the awning above his store Friday.

He was trying to shore up a bird’s nest built on the canopy above Broadway Fashions on West Washington Street. The nest had two fledglings and an egg in it, he said.

Fearing the storm would carry the nest away, Khubani put the shoebox behind the awning to keep the birds from falling behind the façade.

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Khubani was one of thousands of residents and business owners making last-minute preparations Friday as Hurricane Irene bore down on the East Coast Friday as residents and business owners made last-minute preparations.

“God’s looked after us for 17 years,” Khubani said. “We haven’t had any problems. I think it will be the same this time.”

Throughout the city, people boarded up windows, brought loose objects inside and prepared to hang on for the ride, though Suffolk officials suggested evacuations for residents in low-lying areas and mobile homes.

Down the street from Khubani’s clothing shop, workers boarded up windows to Andy Damiani’s offices above the Washington Square Mall.

Across the city, stores of all sizes were sold out of bottled water, bread and other essentials.

Suffolk officials were answering calls from citizens concerned about the need to evacuate, said Capt. Jim Judkins, Suffolk emergency management coordinator.

“People are really surprised they’re talking to a living, breathing human being,” Judkins said. “They expected to talk to a computer voice.”

Judkins said the city was committed to taking care of the residents.

“We can actually have a calming effect on them,” Judkins said.