Later today, the NYTimes City Room blog had a little more detail, including interviews with local residents and workers about their perceptions:
With no warning, the mysterious sirens, accompanied by garbled instructions, startled the residents who live near the Columbia Street waterfront and in nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods sometime after 9 a.m. Monday.Full post here:
Felix Rosario, who lives on Columbia Street, thought the instructions were about the water supply. They went on for 20 minutes. He could not really make out what the announcer was saying.
“I was worried about the water in my house,” he said.
Marie Testaverde knew it was a test, but not much more: “I forgot about it. Certain noises, I just forget about.”
A block away on Tiffany Place, Rafael Rosado, who works at a building on the street, recognized the warnings — “garble, garble, garble” — as a noise he had heard several times over the years.
“I wish I could understand what they’re saying,” he said. “Imagine if something was actually happening.”.....A security guard at Pier 8, at the end of Atlantic Avenue, provided an answer: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was testing its emergency broadcast system, as it does once a year. Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the agency, said the system, to be used in case the pier needs to be evacuated, can be heard for a mile in every direction. He said that port tenants and the local police precinct were notified in advance.
City Room: Attention, Please! This Is a Zzb Frzzkd Sxpldts!