Tag Archives: Hurricane Sandy

“Hurricane’s Suck, Have A Croissant”

Processing…  I haven’t.  There are still too many people who are without power, whose homes have been destroyed, too many people who continue to have no heat, no hot water or any water at all, too many displaced people, too many who have lost so much….  How does one process this?

Nic had nightmares last night about a zombie apocalypse where he was the lone survivor.  Emma is perseverating more than usual; her stims have gotten noticeably worse; her scripting more pronounced.  I watched her yesterday as she did her Sunday morning DJ routine, listening to all her favorite songs, singing and dancing, losing herself in the music and felt both grateful for all we have and utterly exhausted.  I slept seven and half hours last night and yet feel as though it were 5.  I am feeling fragile particularly sensitive and emotional, and we were the lucky ones.  We have power, heat, hot water, a home that is undamaged, everything’s back to “normal” and yet it isn’t.  I don’t know what normal means anymore.  Where do we go from here?  How do we process this?

On Friday I went downtown and took photographs.  The lighting wasn’t great, it was impossible to capture the mood or what it felt like to walk along empty streets where the only lights came from headlights on busses, taxis and those who still had enough gas in their cars to get around.  I couldn’t photograph the group of young women weeping in the street or the man looking for his father whom he had not heard from in four days or the old woman painstakingly climbing the stairs of her unlit building, her pug tugging on its leash, urging her upwards into the darkness or the faces of all those people I passed obsessively checking their dead cell phones, trudging north with the hope they might find an available electrical socket that would breathe life into it.  I’m not a skilled enough photographer to be able to capture any of that.  (I’ve provided a couple of links to some professional photographers who were though.)  But I did get a few images that at least document the storm and our resilience…

One of the many Chelsea art galleries whose flooded basement held art work. 

An intrepid New Yorker who found a way to stay open despite the power outage downtown

Powering up on 7th Avenue

The “Doll House” on 8th Avenue

Kindness on 14th Street

Pizza by candle light

Emma wasn’t able to go trick or treating, but she still dressed as a butterfly on October 31st

The Statue of Liberty during the storm

We are capable of so much.

Be grateful.

I am.

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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Awaiting the Storm

If you listen to the news, which I haven’t but Richard, in an uncharacteristic display of interest regarding the weather, has been keeping abreast of the latest news by reading updates on the NYTimes online, you already know Hurricane Sandy is heading inland and may or may not hit New York City at some unknown point…  it’s hard to say. Meanwhile, everything is shut. All the stores are closed, all public transportation has screeched to a halt, friends of ours who are in “Zone A” have had the boilers in their building shut off since yesterday evening, some others have been evacuated, and yet, other than the occasional breeze and light sprinkle, there is nothing to suggest anything is amiss.

On Saturday as Nic and I did our weekly grocery shopping run, Nic commented on the long lines. The typical four-hour window given for delivery of one’s groceries had been suspended and other than thinking it strange that so many more people were out getting groceries, it didn’t occur to me to be concerned.  It has to be said, we do not watch the news on television and my reading of the NYTimes online is topic specific.  When Nic asked why so many people were grocery shopping I said something about how it was always like this on Saturdays and then went into a lengthy explanation about typical Monday through Friday work weeks and how it made sense that Saturday was a good day for grocery shopping. By the glazed expression on my eldest child’s face, I’m pretty sure I lost him after the first 30 seconds. Looking back, the incredulous expression on the woman’s face directly behind us now makes sense and I feel a little saddened to realize it was not a look of awe at my brilliant analysis of the shopping habits of fellow New Yorkers.

Last night I explained to Emma that there was a big storm headed our way and because of it, school would be closed and that there might be heavy rain during the night, but that we were all going to be safe.  I was a bit more concerned that the changing air pressure might wake her in the night, causing her pain and upset.  When she woke this morning and came running into our room, I said, “Em, has it started raining yet?”  She said, “Rain, lightning and thunder!”

“Really?” I said, peering out into the darkness.  “I don’t hear any rain.”

“It’s raining.  No school,” Emma said, with the kind of unerring certainty that does not invite argument.   Then she pulled the bed sheets up over her head.

I asked Em if she wanted to go up on the roof to see first hand what the weather was like.  I grabbed my camera and rain gear .  “Oh honey,” Richard said as he watched me zip up my rain jacket, “you’re going to document the storm,” he wiggled his fingers to make quotation marks.  “I love that.”

“It hasn’t hit us yet,” I told him.  “It might.  Later.  You never know.  They’re saying 95 mile per hour winds and 10 foot waves.  Maybe I’ll take the kids to the river later,” I announced.

“I love that you’re going out to record the weather and not hunkering down into fear-bomb-shelter mode,” he looked at me with what I’m pretty sure can only be described as pure, unadulterated, adoration and admiration. (I am convinced I’m reading his look correctly and NOT the way I completely misinterpreted the look of the woman in the grocery store.  Of course, I have been wrong before…)

Em on the roof just now in appropriate, pre-Sandy, attire