— BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Douglas Jumper choked up as he described the long, slow recovery in his central Pennsylvania town from last year's historic flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee — and contemplated the possibility of yet more damage from an approaching storm.
"I'm tired. I am tired," Jumper, who turned 58 on Saturday, said through tears. "We don't need this again."
Jumper's town of Bloomsburg, and much of the Eastern Seaboard, was in the path of a rare behemoth storm barreling north from the Caribbean. Hurricane Sandy — upgraded again Saturday just hours after forecasters said it had weakened to a tropical storm — was expected to make landfall early Tuesday near the Delaware coast, then hit two winter weather systems as it moves inland. That is expected to create a hybrid monster storm that could bring nearly a foot of rain, high winds and up to 2 feet of snow.
Experts said the storm could be wider and stronger than Irene, which caused more than $15 billion in damage, and could rival the worst East Coast storm on record. On Saturday morning, forecasters said hurricane-force winds of 75 mph could be felt 100 miles away from the storm's center.
Jumper's first floor took on nearly 5 feet of water last year, and he was busy Friday moving items from his wood shop to higher ground. Across the street, Patrick and Heather Peters pulled into the driveway with a kerosene heater, 12 gallons of water, paper plates, batteries, flashlights and the last lantern on Wal-Mart's shelf.
"I'm not screwing around this time," Heather Peters said.
Up and down the coast, people were cautioned to be prepared for days without electricity. Jersey Shore beach towns began issuing voluntary evacuations and protecting boardwalks. Atlantic City casinos made contingency plans to close, and officials advised residents of flood-prone areas to stay with family or be ready to leave. Several governors declared states of emergency. Airlines said to expect cancellations and waived change fees for passengers who want to reschedule.