For F&M Bagels co-owner Frank Morales, opening his Red Hook deli on Monday was a no-brainer.
“I knew there would be customers who would be hungry, so what else are we gonna do?” he said.
So like any other weekday morning, Morales, along with brothers Mario and Benny Nitti, opened up their storefront deli selling bagels, ham sandwiches and strong black coffee.
But thanks to Hurricane Sandy, Monday wasn’t any ordinary day.
With a surge flooding the end of their street under as much as six feet of water, broken power lines popping overhead and gusts up to 30 mph, F&M was more than just a bagel shop — it was a refuge from the storm.
“They are a God-send for opening up today,” said Erin Haggerty of Red Hook.
Haggerty joined a crowd of police officers, Con Ed workers and journalists covering the storm in converging on F&M, which saw its busiest morning rush in its 11-year history, according to Morales.
“We have nothing, they’ve been buying everything in sight,” Morales said. “We want to feed everyone, we want to make sure everyone is alright. A lot of people, they need to buy milk, they need to get breakfast, they need to get lunch. They’re buying six or seven sandwiches … they think it’s going to be bad.”
When asked why more Red Hook residents hadn’t evacuated ahead of Sandy, Morales said the reason might have to do with Tropical Storm Irene’s less-than-expected punch last year.
“A lot people think because we didn’t get hit bad last time we wouldn’t again,” he said. “But I think we’re going to hit worse this time.”
Red Hook resident Rich Conklin was at F&M getting provisions one last time before heading to higher ground. He said the delay in evacuating was due to “indecision, mostly.”
However, the time to act had come for Conklin, who is on his way to stay with friends in DUMBO.
“I don’t want to get stranded,” he said.
For those looking to take refuge later Monday from Sandy's high winds and driving rain — you might be out of luck.
F&M is scheduled to finally close for the storm at 1 p.m.