hurricane sandy has come and gone, leaving a path of destruction.
last sunday, after i took my accounting midterm (midterm on halloween weekend? lame!) i popped into duane reade to get a birthday card for my dad and ran into a classmate. she asked if i was getting supplies for the hurricane…i said i was only getting a birthday card, and she asked where i could find the flashlights and i didn’t know. then i headed into brooklyn for a friend’s birthday thing where the topic of conversation was about hurricane preparation. i was starting to wonder if maybe i should’ve been preparing but my friend assured me it’d probably be fine. hurricane irene had been overblown the previous year and my roommates didn’t seem worried even though we were on the border of mandatory evacuation so i should be fine right? i made it back home a little bit before the subways closed down, happy that school was canceled the next day because of the storm.
monday was windy and rainy but i still wasn’t worried until i saw this:
and it was already too late at that point. a friend from school who lives nearby came over with a 6-pack of beer and we played drinking and card games with my roommates until one of them yelled at us to look out her window. avenue c was flooded and it was creeping onto 14th street. my friend, who also lives on ave c, decided he better get back to his apt by walking around.
after he left, i quickly made dinner for my roommate and me in case we lost power or something soon. 14th st was flooding fast and conedison had already done it’s planned power shut off for parts of lower manhattan and we figured we’d probably lose ours too. moments after i said we’d probably lose our power soon, i saw a bright flash out my window and we immediately lost all power. i thought it was lightning, but discovered later that one of the transformers at the conedison electricity plant literally next door had exploded, plunging all of lower manhattan into darkness.
a flooded 14th st from my window before loss of power; cars are half submerged
the conedison transformer explosion captured on video from what i think is brooklyn:
i saw people in lighted rafts in the flood waters with ambulances waiting at the water’s edge near ave b and realized they must be evacuating people. this is when i realized the conedison plant had an explosion and there were workers trapped inside.
flooded and dark 14th st with a lighted empty raft
trapped conedison workers being rescued + evacuated by raft
i suggested that maybe we fill our bathtub with water like you’re supposed to in the event of a hurricane in case we lost water. fyi, the water’s for flushing the toilet, not drinking. i poured out water from the brita filter into other cups and filled it up again. we didn’t fill our tub…and we did lose water. that night, i slept earlier than i had in years since there was nothing to do. i turned off my cell to conserve battery and woke up before the sun rose by flashing lights from a line of police cars outside my window. it looked like they were jump starting and assisting cars that were affected by the storm…i saw one car across the street with a broken window that was patched together by tape and cardboard, it’s still sitting there. then i went back to sleep and willingly woke up earlier than i had in years to find that water was back intermittently but we had no cell service/reception.
when i had a signal, i texted my good friend who lives in midtown if her offer to let me stay with her still stood. i took my laptop, little else, and left–going down 9 flights of stairs in the dark because i still didn’t have a flashlight and didn’t want to waste the power on my half-dead cell. there were a lot of people on the streets observing the debris and damage. all the nearby shops looked closed except one bodega where people were going in to get supplies. i knew the buses and subways were down and was fortunate enough to catch a cab close by. as we drove up, the street lights were out with nobody directing traffic, i saw crowds of people migrating north and the contrast between uptown and downtown felt drastic–they were barely affected. there were long lines at the atm’s that were open, people hanging outside of closed starbucks to use their wifi, people carrying power strips with them to charge devices.
on wednesday, it became evident that power would not be restored anytime soon and my roommates had also left. there were some buses running for free while the subways were down and i came back to get more clothes for an extended stay. the bus didn’t go south of 23rd street, so i transferred to a bus that went cross town and walked down. my intersection was closed off from the plant and damage and stuyvesant town felt like a ghost town. i passed by the leasing office on the ground floor of avenue c that was flooded and sand bagged. the bus ride back uptown was long and frustrating. there were long lines at all the bus stops going up and long waits.
nyu announced classes were cancelled for the rest of the week since they’d be without power. and i was excited that i could go out and experience my first halloween in nyc since i didn’t get to over the weekend and wasn’t expecting to that night due to midterms.
the rest of the week, i was relatively productive–holding informationals by phone, doing schoolwork, and sending emails. i also watched a lot of tv and movies, went to the moma, and went out and drank quite a bit.
power came back to my complex friday night and subways were running on limited service (north of 34th st). i returned home through a combination of subway and bus saturday afternoon and found that we had power, but no hot water.
as i write this post now, i still don’t have hot water, the traffic light at 14th st and ave c is still out, the l subway line still isn’t running in manhattan, and over 40 people have died from the storm. many businesses in my neighborhood are still without power and although i have school tomorrow, there are people in other areas who won’t be able to get to class. i think i may have been the most affected out of those i know, but i’m still very fortunate…i haven’t had to take a cold shower (yet), but really i didn’t have my safety or health compromised. and i feel for the areas, like staten island, that are still in terrible condition (most of the deaths in ny from the hurricane were in staten island), but i feel guilty for how much attention we received and how quickly we recovered compared to those affected by hurricane katrina…
the famous fallen building facade on 14th st & 8th ave