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Staycation in NYC - 116 Hours in the East Village post-Sandy

Staycation in NYC - 116 Hours in the East Village post-Sandy

Nov 2nd, 2012, 03:03 PM
  #1  
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Staycation in NYC - 116 Hours in the East Village post-Sandy

Electricity returned to my block in the East Village about two hours ago. A friend phoned to let me know. I was in midtown, recharging my cellphone, getting a little work done on my laptop. As I walked south, south of 29th Street there were still plenty of darkened buildings east of Fifth Avenue, still people in the dark. At Union Square, I could see the glowing lights in the stores on the south side of 14th Street, though buildings to the north were still dark.

At home, as I waited for the elevator with a neighbor, we grinned at the old fashioned elevator's distinctive rattle. The door opened and we shared more smiles with the elevator operator. He had come each day to work his shift, even without electricity, to sit in the lobby and keep us safe. A smooth ride to the ninth floor, a well-lit hallway, unlock the door. I'm home. A quick flick of a switch and there is light. The next priority: Attend to the plumbing that has not worked since Monday evening.

The inconvenience I experienced during almost four days without electricity is minor compared to many. No electricity—but I have a gas stove. No working toilet—but oddly the water, albeit cold, continued to flow from the faucet. No elevator—but my building's stairwells have windows, so I did not have to climb nine flights in the dark. And my office has a branch uptown that offered a place for us to recharge our devices and work if you could get there.

I'm thinking of all the people who are still in the dark and whose lives have been devastated.

I'll return later with some observations, but right now I want to take a hot shower. I hope others will share their experiences as well.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2012, 05:02 PM
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Good news, ellenem. Very good.

I live in Central Florida, and the summer of 2004 was just awful (4 hurricanes over our area), so I can sympathize with much of your hardships. No long flights of stairs, but also nothing was walkable (work, stores, etc). It is just miserable.

I think it was Hurricane Hugo, when it hit around the Carolinas, it was described as an odor of pine (from all the splintered pine trees).

Hurricane Andrew in south Florida was marked by the smell of chlorine, from all the swimming pools.

Here in 2004, my impression was mainly B.O. and gasoline (hot unwashed people with chain saws). And our toilets would not work, because all the lift stations lost power and water just backed up.

What is is like there? And so glad to hear from you.
sludick is online now  
Nov 2nd, 2012, 05:59 PM
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I'm just catching up on the news. Until now, I had not seen many images of the destruction to the region--just heard radio reports. The devastation on the along the shorelines is astonishing. I haven't been to the southern tip of Manhattan, but for the most part buildings and windows are intact. There are a surprising number of trees uprooted or snapped in half, the sidewalks upended by the roots. A number of awnings and large signs are ripped down.

A friend sent me a video from last night's NBC evening news about an area three blocks from me, and it was really accurate: A Tale of Two Cities. Midtown Manhattan has been doing business as usual, but as soon as you crossed into the non-electrified section, it was a different place--everything closed, people wandering the streets looking for supplies or a place to recharge, an occasional deli that was open but dark and people shopping with flashlights, cash only.

Even though my apartment was chilly, I was very glad it was cool. My food in my refrigerator was mostly OK for these past four days because the weather was cool. The last time we had a blackout in NYC, I was without power for 27 hours. It was a very different experience because it was during an August heat wave. If this had been August, food spoilage would have been a bigger problem, and then the streets would have been lined with foul garbage bags. Similarly, the lack of washing facilities may not have been as noticeable because of the cool weather.

I live a few blocks from the electric substation that exploded. The sound of the work going on there is a constant hum day and night. I can't complain. I wasn't expecting to get power back until tomorrow. Many thanks to all the teams that arrived from so many different states to help.

Many in apartment buildings had problems I did not. I live in a pre-WWII building, which has features that are unusual in today's buildings. All my rooms have a window so I can see without lights--many NYC apartments have no windows in the kitchen or bathroom. The public hallways and fire stairways are windowless. I can't imagine what it would be like to wander those halls or climb those stairs in the dark. Many people did so, and many others were stuck in their apartments for the duration, with no running water and few supplies. The low-income housing near me had many older people trapped in this way. Also, these same people were unable to buy food, because without electricity they could not use their food stamp cards. I ran into someone I know on the street who is diabetic and could not get food because she is on food stamps.

One big impression I will take with me is New Yorkers walking. We are a walking people at all times, but in these days we were walking everywhere, walking north to recharge and forage, walking south to return home. There was a wonderful interchange at every corner in the non-electrified area because the stoplights weren't working. As the days passed, there were more and more traffic police at each corner to control the flow, but even these have been only on the main cross-streets. So there has been a little dance between the cars and pedestrians at most corners. In most cases, traffic would stop if pedestrians were waiting to cross. People were well-mannered and orderly. Neighbors gathered around generators on the sidewalk and waited in line to plug into the communal surge bars for a recharge.

One day as I was leaving my building, a group arrived to bring groceries and water to a couple in their 80s who live in my building. The group was going to carry the groceries up to their apartment--on the 17th floor.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2012, 06:55 PM
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Thank you for sharing your story and recognizing the difference between the inconveinenced and those that lost everything. My sister in Penn hasn't had power but is as happy as a log recognizing that their temporary inconvenience is simply life.
Lookin_Glass is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2012, 07:35 PM
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Thanks Ellenem. How are the people at Middle Collegiate doing? Glad to hear your power is back.
SueNYC is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2012, 04:13 AM
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Thank you for this. We are all only a few events away from the 19th century. We have spent a lot of time today talking about what we would do/what we would need to have on hand if we were in similar circumstances. It is daunting.
Ackislander is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2012, 06:49 AM
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I'm glad you are well.
The devastation from this storm is just overwhelming. I pray for all the people who have lost their homes and their precious photos, etc.
We were SO very lucky and just lost power for about 15 hours. That was nothing in the scheme of things.
schmerl is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2012, 08:45 AM
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No damage in mid-Brooklyn; but war zone on Coney Island. Went there yesterday to check it out. I had power, but just a few miles south none.
I had a plan in case the toilets dont flush, to go in the back yard where the garbage bags are. Considering it's a 7 storey house, it could've been a whole big pile of doodoo.
POMAH is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2012, 08:59 AM
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Thanks for sharing and good luck.
esm is online now  
Nov 4th, 2012, 12:57 PM
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ellenem:

Thank you for posting in such detail. You certainly made the best of a very bad situation and glad to hear people helped each other. New Yorkers are the best.

My son and his family got there power back on 5:30 pm Friday and are grateful to be back in their home.

Take care.

Sandy
SandyBrit is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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I am so tired of "New Yorkers are the best." I am a New Yorker by birth, my family is there. People help each other in crises in other places too. Sheesh.
jubilada is online now  
Nov 4th, 2012, 02:18 PM
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Just saw this. What a nice elevator operator.
Glad you fared well and thanks for this trip report!
starrs is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 03:28 PM
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I'm in the East 20's, sorta Kips Bay/Murray Hill (it's actually called Rose Hill, but no one knows it by that name). Just a couple of blocks from Zone A, the evacuation zone. We counted ourselves among the lucky, because we didn't lose anything to the storm. However, being up on the 14th floor, we had to walk down all those flights, and then a mile and a half north to "civilization" or "The Light" as we grew to call it from the time the lights were turned off (I think it was Monday night - seems so long ago) and then back on on Friday night around 7:30. And then, of course, with food, water and ice, we had to climb those 14 flights again. We also were lucky because we were able to walk up to the E.60's to our niece's apartment so we could shower, charge up our phones and laptop, and regroup. We would've stayed over, but we had cats and didn't want to relocate them. So we got to know another neighborhood and fell in love with a couple of restaurants and tried to see it as an adventure as best we could. We got to know our neighbors better and shared our gas stove and a couple of cocktails. Most New Yorkers, if they weren't in the worst areas, had a similar experience to ours. Everyone seemed to reach out to everyone. Most of the coastal areas like Fire Island, the Rockaways, Long Beach, Staten Island, parts of Brooklyn and the Jersey Shore got slammed. Many people lost everything. But every news story shows the heart of NYC residents. And you know what, New Yorkers ARE the best. They may not show their manners every day, but when it really matters, they are always there to lend a helping hand.
hiho322 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 09:03 PM
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At church this morning I got to hear more stories of others around the city. One set of friends who live in the east 30s have been out of their apartment since before the storm, evacuated because their building, a recently-built hi-rise is right by the river. Their apartment is fine, but the bottom was flooded so there is still no electricity or heat. They've returned once or twice to check on things, using flashlights to climb the 26 stories to their place. Another friend who lives in the West Village looked shell-shocked. She lives in Westbeth, a groundbreaking artist residence that still has no services.

Another friend lives right at the corner shown on NBC news in that report I mentioned. He showed me a video he took from his second floor apartment of Avenue C under a four-foot deep tidal surge on the night of the hurricane. The water was gone in the morning leaving incredible damage in its wake. That day he helped his downstairs neighbor dispose of most of his waterlogged belongings, which included two sofas. When I commented that the soaking-wet sofas must have been extra heavy, he remarked that they had to saw one of the sofas in half in order to lift it to remove it.

My church is Middle Collegiate Church mentioned by SueNYC, is just a few blocks from my home, and it was without power for the same length of time as my apartment. Today people brought groceries to morning worship that we then took to one of the local food distribution centers. One of our sister churches on the Upper West Side, West End Collegiate Church, ended their morning worship with a trip to the grocery store and arrived at Middle Church soon thereafter with five carloads of groceries to distribute in the neighborhood. Even though the stores in the neighborhood are open, many are not as well-supplied as they could be--in some areas the groceries were waterlogged in addition to being spoiled.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 4th, 2012, 10:58 PM
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Extremely random thoughts about the aftermath of Sandy.

The explosion below occurred two blocks from the apartment, the view is from Brooklyn. We only heard it but did not see it.

So much for that romantic BS regarding the life “Little House On the Prairie.”

Living without any electric and hot water is minor inconvenience compared to those who died or lost their house, but there also no glory in it either. People always say that without TV and radio families were closer. Maybe if they could find each other in the dark they would be closer and if you watch Criminal Minds you know most serial killers do not live in cities. They are all waiting in some shack for their lights to come on.

Before this and 9/11 New York just had financial disasters.

After a few days without electric, I would push buttons or turn on switches just to see if something happened when you weren’t paying attention. Other times you try to will the electricity on. That is when you need to go for a walk.

Next to the apartment is a rarely used metal staircase which now clangs with travelers. There is a Boris Karloff quality to each step on the embossed treads on the steps which contributes to your adhesion except when some moron drips something slippery on them.

We listened to a local news radio which is similar to being locked in a room with someone who is crazy or drunk. They repeat the traffic and weather every ten minutes as if you did not hear the other 12 times in the last two hours. Maybe this format works well during normal times but not during a disaster, it is maddening.

In nine months there will be many children with androgynous name Sandy. It will give new meaning that the mother’s water has broken.

How come when you make a cheap transistor radio lower, it gets louder first.

I always made fun of that show CSI, since they look for everything with a flashlight and never turn on the lights. Well, if you just use a flashlight in the dark, you can see every crumb and things that are unidentifiable on the floor and other surfaces. I am doing DNA testing as I write this.

Our circadian rhythm became that of a baby. It would get dark about 7:30 and we fell asleep about 7:45. There is not enough light in a candle or flashlight to keep you awake. I offered the name of a band to my nephew called The Circadian Rhythm Section, but he did not want it. If you want it now, it will cost you plenty.

There is a section in the Hamptons were stupid rich bastards constantly re-build home in places where just your every day hurricane rips them to shreds. The same is true with rich morons in Malibu on the other coast where people rebuild houses with spindly stilts which collapse during earthquakes and mudslides. Why underwriters give them insurance is beyond me. But if they sell those homes on both coasts to people
that think climate change is hoax, all will be forgiven.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aX0sbp1hK-ASee More
Golemtoo is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 07:58 AM
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Sometimes they do, but not always:

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/tVjWK...es/uh0mlA-YRTX
5alive is offline  
Nov 5th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Whoa. People helping people, and government helping people are two different things.

As a Katrina survivor, I can tell you that I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from PEOPLE, from all over the country. The government? Not so much.

Thanks for posting your experiences, ellenem. I have friends in Stuyvesant Town who were hoping to get back into their apartment over the weekend.
YankyGal is offline  

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