A City Divided

Today is the first morning I’ve had the time, the electrical power and the energy to write a post.  It’s with some horror that I read my last post.  Who knew Sandy would cause so much devastation and damage?  Evidently  pretty much everyone, well except us, it turns out…  I don’t think I need to say a whole lot more here, other than we were lucky and are fine.  We had a huge stock of batteries, thanks to a tendency to overstock supplies and having children with battery operated devices, I even found a solar-powered radio/flashlight my brother had sent me a few years ago after the last blackout and a drawer full of candles and flashlights.  My mother periodically called with updates and my brother sent text messages with the latest news.

A good friend who lives above 26th Street (and therefore had power) was kind enough to open her home to many of us without.  It took hours to power up our devices, but at least we weren’t standing in line at one of the many delis and stores north of 25th Street who had brought out power cords allowing as many people as possible to power up.

All is dark, including the traffic lights south of 25th Street


Monday morning as we took the children west to survey the damage in our now dark world, we attempted to cross 8th Avenue, but had to wait as cars raced past taking advantage of the power outage and dark traffic lights, never breaking despite the fact we were with two children.  For those cars on the cross streets waiting, hoping someone would slow down enough to let them through, it was a lesson in patience and a stark reminder of how badly people can behave given the opportunity.

One of many buildings in Chelsea near the West Side Highway

Our building still has water, it’s only now running out, other buildings are not as fortunate.  We also were fortunate enough to have a gas stove, which means we are able to heat water and even made pancakes for Emma one morning.  By the third day, Emma’s stress level had become noticeably worse.  (As had mine.) Perseveration, stimming and echolaic speech had all worsened.   I started looking into hotel rooms for us already on Monday while waiting for our phones to power up at my friend’s home, but couldn’t believe when I saw a “Budget Hotel” in midtown charging over twelve hundred dollars per night for a room.  I probably could have booked something had I thought to (and most hotels were not price gouging), but by Tuesday there were almost no rooms left and by the time we seriously began looking on Wednesday we found only one hotel with a room available, which we booked, only to learn that it had been evacuated because of the crane in Midtown that forced a number of blocks to shut down.

Richard took matters into his own hands and called my cousins who welcomed us into their beautiful home uptown.  We are grateful to have somewhere to go and relatives who were willing to take us in, people who were kind enough to open their doors and had spare bedrooms to accommodate us.  Meanwhile Nic went to his friend’s house in Brooklyn, where he is playing one endless marathon video game of who knows what with his friend.  We miss him, but are relieved to know he’s being taken care of and is happy.

I wrote the following and posted it on my Facebook page last night:  “It’s hard to capture a visual of A Tale of Two Cities: Downtown without power, Uptown life continues. North of 26th Street where there is power, lines of people wait to use an electrical plug to power up their cell phone, below 26th Street there is no power, many buildings are without water now, others will be without water soon. Guys are hawking C & D batteries on the street corners, one guy has a sign saying, “We sell CANDLES” Large flashlights are a hot commodity. And yet… just a few blocks north people are watching the news of devastation on their flat screen TVs. Two worlds divided by electrical haves and have nots.”

To be without electrical power is to literally be without power.  Those who are above 25th Street, a purely arbitrary division are able to listen to the news or not, make phone calls, take showers, fix nice meals for their families, choose to open their homes, help people if they decide to, but those south of 25th do not have these choices.  It is surreal.  Those without power who had the means and the wherewithal to book hotel rooms on Monday did so.  The decision to continue with the New York City marathon this Sunday was a stark example of the massive disconnect that has occurred in this city.  That officials were blithely holding press conferences defending this decision while people are trying desperately to locate family members they haven’t heard from who live in the southern parts of the city is  just one more example of how surreal things have gotten here in New York City.

*I am one of the people who feels it is insulting to carry on with the marathon, exacerbating the traffic jams, reducing the numbers of available hotel rooms, a symbolic thumbing of their noses at all those who have not showered, had something hot to drink or eat, are without heat, water, light or have been evacuated.  I see the people running along the streets, weaving in and out of the traffic grid lock and I can only assume, as they head south, that they will eventually head back north to a hot shower.  Yet another example of the difference a little electricity makes.

*This post was written before we lost wi-fi this morning and at the time the marathon had not been canceled.

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36 responses to “A City Divided

  1. Ariane, I am so, SO glad you managed to post this. I have been so terribly worried about you guys! (Even more so after reading your casual post the other day!) I can’t even imagine how stressful this must be for poor Emma. Sending much love you guys’ way!

    I, too, am furious about the marathon. There was also an article on HuffPost about some “heroes” who saved a bunch of embryos at a local fertility clinic. Really? When there are literally MILLIONS of real, live people in need of immediate assistance? (Hope I don’t offend anyone by saying this, it’s just my opinion that there are more important things to rescue!)

    Anyhow, I am so very glad you have somewhere to stay. Being the victim of such a disaster has got to be one of the most devestating, surreal events one can endure in a lifetime. I’m so sorry everyone there has to go through this.

    (((((HUGS TO YOU AND EMMA FROM ME AND MARISA!!!!)))) Stay safe, my friend.

    • Thank you Angie. I thought of you often during this ordeal. Your comment about how everyone talks about the weather where you live and no one would stand in line without talking to people was something I thought of again and again.
      We are back home! We have power, heat and a refrigerator, not to mention the internet! We had it much easier than so many, and we know how fortunate we were and are. It’s so so good to be home!

      • Oh, Ariane, I am so happy you’re all home and safe!

        You know, people make fun of the Midwest. But there is something to be said for being friendly to strangers, knowing your neighbors, and running into someone you know every time you go to the store. (This just happened to me today, lol!)

        We took the kids trick or treating the other nite, and literally talked to everyone for at least a minute. The lady that works at Joels dentist office, a gal I talk to who works at the drugstore, and a member of the school board are just a few of our neighbors. They all were genuinely happy to see the kids and chat with the parents.

        This is the only way I know how to act, I have never known anything different.

        Anyhow, yay for being home!

  2. I am so glad you guys are OK, even though you are not optimally OK. And so now I am wishing for soon the OKness to become totally optimal. Love.

  3. Sending you love and strength! Glad to hear from you!

  4. Hang in there girl. Keep saying, as often as needed, “This too shall pass.”

  5. We lost power for 6 days in the derecho this past summer (in VA). I can’t agree with you more. Losing power was the most difficult aspect of the whole thing. It was very hard for my kids not to be in their own space with their own comforting things, and I felt helpless to make a nice place for them to be.

    • I thought that having the children made our stress much higher, that knowing how tough this was on Emma made it brutal, but I have heard from others who don’t have children and they too were terribly stressed by all of this. Clusters of people were crying in the streets downtown today, overwhelmed and scared.

  6. Glad to hear you and the family are ok! Just heard the mayor has cancelled the marathon.

    • Yes. I am relieved. I know it inconvenienced a great many, but it demonstrated such a disconnect and disregard of what so many in this city were going through, I found it appalling. Particularly when you saw the power generators that were being set up in Central Park, generators that could have helped so many over the past few days…

  7. So glad you’re OK! Thanks for checking in. I hope that they will get you power soon.

  8. Hugs!! We’ve been holding you in our thoughts at our house!

  9. My heart goes out to you guys. I’m glad you are through the worst of it. Sandy has hit so many in NYC and NJ so hard. This time couldn’t have been easy for you. Wishing you easier days ahead and many blessings. Holding you in our prayers

    • Thank you so much. Every time I flip a light switch I marvel that there is light. Emma has been playing all her favorite songs this evening, singing and dancing and I was filled with gratitude. Amazing how easy it is to take for granted things that many in the world do not have, have never had and never will have.
      Thanks for your kind thoughts!

  10. Welcome home darling Family! I am so happy that you finally have power, physically and metaphorically.

    Love, love, love,

    Mom

  11. So relieved that you are all home, and have power! I have finally processed and cried. Crying is good! Once you have a chance to settle in, rest, take care of your family, and heal a bit, I know you will be helping others, as is your way ❤. As we are all called to do at this time. Meanwhile, take a breath, and write. You have been through a lot…and your many friends have been greatly concerned. 💋💋💋

  12. I forgot to tell you. Special-Ism is posting helpful advice to help those with special needs who are affected by Sandy cope.

  13. Oops, my first comment did not post for some reason. I am glad you and yours are safe. I cannot watch the news for long either and most in Honolulu make light of storm warnings because they have never experienced a severe storm.

    Please continue to share the positive stories of those who are helping. It is what we all want to hear and too little of this is being reported in the media. I’m sending positive thoughts and prayers for all affected by the storm.

  14. Glad to hear to u got power & are home. Many of my friends back east have gotten power back today too. I live on the west coast now for the past 3yrs, but pretty much ALL of our family and friends live back east-most in Brooklyn, some in Staten Island, and a few in Jersey. The neighborhood I grew up in for the first 30yrs of my life has been destroyed. Many of the ppl I went to Elementary Schl are just beginning to pump out the 4ft of water in their basements. Girls I went to High School are now homeless! Homeless families w small children bc either it burnt down in the fires, was demolished by flooding, or uninhabitable due to storm/wind damage. All the ppl who lost power for days are feeling very lucky thats all they had to deal with. We’re talking boats from marinas went into ppl’s houses. Ppl were trapped in their house bc the only way out was w raft/canoe or swim. A old coworker Of mine, who has a 6month old baby, lost everything in her home due to water damage and is trying to find temporary housing as most of her family lived near her & are also misplaced. My good friend I used to work with has no car as the water on the street rose above it. She lived in a ground floor apt so all her furniture & belongings are ruined from the water-sea water that is. A family in Staten Island, while pumping water out of their home came across 3 seashells & a small dead fish!!! And they lived about 5 blocks away from the boardwalk. That’s how far the tide went. Volunteers & first responders working relief efforts are exhausted & overwhelmed. My cousin in SI volunteered to help yest. The stories told are sickening & heartbreaking. A woman lost her husband & daughter along with her home, has nothing, no clothes, no food, no money. She was being treated for cancer, is in a shelter now and she doesn’t have the funds to cover the cost of funeral arrangements for her own husband & child. The media has not shown even half of the loss & devastation going on in Brooklyn&Queens: Breezy point, Rockaway, Gerritsen beach, Sheepshead Bay, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Great Kills, New Dorp&Midland Beach in Staten Island. The pics I’ve seen are horrendous & shocking. It’s so much worse than everyone is being lead to believe. I’d post the pics here if I was able to.
    I’m finding out how to send donations across the US. There are organizations nationwide that may be collecting for FEMA. Red Cross is only taking money. Project Pizza was started by Fratelli Pizza on SI, so anyone anywhere can call in and pay for a $8 pizza pie to feed one of the many needy families. Look it up on FB.

    • We just sent a few bags of winter children’s clothing and books to some housing projects in the outer boroughs that are still without power. The toll this has taken on so many is devastating.

    • Margaret KIttredge

      I am glad that you and your family are ok. My name is Margaret and I was the one who started The Staten Island Pizza Project, I made a Facebook group page called damage to staten island. After the storm I went to go see all the neighborhoods to see if I could help with anything I just wanted to help. The more and more I was out there I began to notice that residents, first responders and clean up crews were hungry and wanted something hot to eat. So one day I was sitting at work trying to think of a way to get everyone hot food so I decided to start calling local pizzerias asking that to help me, I didn’t want them to donate the food themselves. I explained the page i started on Facebook and I asked Carmine the owners son at Fratelli’s how he can help me which out any hesitation he jumped right on board, He told me he would sell the pies for $8.00 a pie which is 8 slices I figured ok that can feed at least one family. when I starting putting this up on Facebook I never expected to get so much out of it maybe 50 – 100 pies max. As the days started we were all amazed and couldn’t believe it fratelli’s phones would not stop ringing everyone was donating pies some people were even ordering 25 pies it was crazy. The calls started coming from all over the world. Georgia, Alabama, Texas , Vegas,Florida, England, Alaska, and I can keep going. We even had a family donate 500.00 dollars worth of food. The purpose of this project I started is just try to help feed these families. The out come of this is way beyond what I ever expected. We have recieved over 800 pies delievered. Me and the staff at Fratelli’s goal is to keep this project going in till the calls stop coming in. If you or anyone else knows of a families that still have no power and no food please email me with there information and I promise to bring them hot food. If anyone wants to donate you can call fratelli’s pizzeria at 27 Seguine ave and tell them you would like to donate (718) 356-8742. If you are in a bad place right now I am not asking you to donate we have a lot donated already we want to help you.

      • Margaret,
        Thank you so much for writing. This is the link to the page Margaret began – thttp://www.facebook.com/groups/DAMAGETOSTATENISLAND/?fref=ts
        Thank you again for your work to help others.

  15. I pray that you are all doing well and that power is restored very soon. I too have all my family in NYC, in staten island, and on long island. All but my brother, who lives in S.I., have had their power restored. As of today, I do not think he has power yet. I hate being so far away from everyone, and wish I could be closer to help.

    My heart and prayers are always in NYC.

    • We are fine. Good friends have been evacuated and remain in various hotels in the city awaiting word on the extent of the damage to their building on the lower east side. We are lucky. We were one of the fortunate ones who had our power back Friday night. Thank you for thinking of all of us New Yorkers!

  16. Along with all the others, sooooooo glad you are home and safe!

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