So it seems a large hurricane was heading for NYC. First indication was on Saturday night, where the call was made to close an outdoor wine bar I work at on the HighLine, which is located on the the lower west side of Manhattan.
We completely closed it up, moved everything into a pimped out shipping cargo container that his known as Terroir on the Highline. I left actually happy to have my first day off in nearly 3 months. I chatted with a friend Saturday night and we were reviewing our plan for preparation, she stated that she needed to get some flashlights to which I replied that I have my headlamp out already.
Her response: "Of course you would have a headlamp!"
Photo courtest of Bridget Hinman
Bridget Hinman, formerly a marketing manager at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, stands near the USS Intrepid in New York City on Monday, as the water rises hours before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. This area was later flooded.
Sunday morning I woke up to Tweets regarding the upcoming hurricane and it was indeed a BIG DEAL and to prepare for the worst. My first hurricane survival purchase was two bars of fine chocolate. This made me a little nervous and I thought to myself I should take this more seriously. So, I bought a pair of hot pink rain boots for $19.99, a quart of Pinkberry ice cream, then went to Amish Market to buy food. The store was packed and the lines were extending nearly to the end of the market. Every grocery store in the city was packed and shelves were empty, there was not a flashlight to be found by the end of the day. My rations that filled our kitchen fit into one bag. There is simply not enough room for normal shopping of 10 bags in NYC; you can't carry it, you can't store it, shopping here changes dramatically. It would seem "stocking up" was buying enough groceries for 3 days. Of course wine was also a big purchase. We filled our bathtubs with water that would be for flushing toilets. Additionally we were told that we could cook with the water in the bathtub. We scrubbed and cleaned the tub before filling it but after seeing the daily NYC grime wash off my body since moving here the thought of using this clean water from the tub, no matter how clean it was, to cook with was in fact very disturbing. Throughout the day police vehicles and officers were EVERYWHERE driving slowly with their lights on. The presence of an ensuring emergency was in the air and it was unnerving.
Fast forward to 7 p.m.: all transportation was shut down, storefronts were being shuttered, I went for a manicure. In the salon were several women that were quite proud that all preparations were complete yet feeling slightly guilty that they were taking a moment to get their nails done. But truly at this point it was a waiting game. Afterwards, I gathered with my roommate and some of our awesome friends that live in our building to hunker down and prepare for the worst. We cooked pasta and drank our first magnum of wine. Still no storm arrival. At midnight we decided to see what was happening in Times Square, which is only two blocks away from my apartment. It was absolutely empty, so we did an impromptu photo shoot. There were police officers and maybe 10 people total the entire time we were there. My friend and I were interviewed by a guy filming the hurricane for a documentary and at the same time an older gentleman stopped by and told us the only other time he saw Times Square this empty in his entire life was after Sept. 11th, which made it that much more eerie. Still no major hurricane arrival.
Monday morning I went for my daily walk to get coffee and I discovered all of my coffee places were completely boarded up. I went to the bodega at the corner, they were going to try to stay open throughout the hurricane. I was then joined by friends where we walked over to the Hudson River, which is pretty close. As it turns out we were half a block from Zone C, one avenue from Zone B and two avenues from Zone A, which had a mandatory evacuation in effect. It seemed weird to me that I could essentially see Zone A from our apartment, yet we were totally fine.
Down by the river was incredible and this was at about 10 a.m. before the hurricane hit. To put it into perspective, I had visited the Intrepid daily over the summer and longingly watched the water wishing I could just jump in for a swim. I would have put on my life jacket and done it, but the water purity and trying to figure out how I would get out stopped me. It had to have been at least an 8-10 foot drop to the water. On Monday, it was a different story as it was already overflowing. The water had risen that much and it was before the eye of the storm was remotely close.
After taking pics, video and kind of freaking out a bit, we grabbed a bite from a diner that was open along with everyone else in our neighborhood. I then tried to get some work done from home, but had issues concentrating particularly when I saw a hurricane comparison to last years Irene via satellite image. This kind of put me over the edge. The waiting and anticipation was killing me, so I took a long nap.
I have to say NYC is incredibly organized with updates on TV, Twitter, Facebook and also emergency updates texted to your cell phone. They also provided maps via google which indicated zones and shelters. This was very comforting. As a side note it seems that great attention was paid to what Mayor Bloomberg was wearing at each update, it seems that along with what he was verbally telling his outfit choices also indicated to some New Yorkers the level of concern sweater vs suit vs jeans.
Last night as the eye of the storm hit we saw reports of flooding, power outages, terrible fires in Queens and we still waited to see what was going to happen in our neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen, to be specific we are on along the 40s between 9th and 10th Avenue. We never made dinner for fear of really needing our food in the days afterwards. We could hear the wind gusting outside.
Nearly all residents of our building gathered at a friends apartment to wait out the storm by sharing snacks, wine, watching updates, calling to check on friends and family, and playing Taboo that I couldn't help but notice had an interesting New York centric twist for instance two words "park, fields" led to answer of Strawberries. At one point, we also discovered that we do in fact live on an island when all bridges and tunnels were closed. At about 12:30 we finally succumbed to the storm and fell asleep hoping that we would have power and little flooding the next morning.
As it turns out we live on a "hill" and flooding was far from our area although 40th street south lost power we were very fortunate to have been spared in our little section of this city.
I am truly thankful and blessed to have been spared the wrath of Sandy and know that others were not so fortunate. I know that many areas of the city are still without power, there were terrible events and stories that we are seeing reports on throughout the city and it is unknown when the subway will open. We can still hear sirens going to emergencies and to be honest, I have not left the apartment except to grab a quick coffee at the bodega at the corner. I will say that throughout this entire experience everyone I came into contact with was nothing but kind, concerned and finished every encounter with "stay safe."
This is an awesome city indeed! Thank you too to the NYPD, FDNY and the entire city for keeping us safe throughout the hurricane. I am very grateful.