I don't think any of us were expecting Hurricane Sandy to be even remotely as devastating as she turned out to be, especially after last years fairly underwhelming Irene (for NYC at least). My studio/apartment was in the blackout area in Manhattan, so I spent the first few days of the aftermath with no idea what time it was, much less the profound damage it did to parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and New Jersey (and even parts of Manhattan). By day 3 I'd run out of food, but more importantly had also run out of bourbon, and I thought maybe my family might be wondering if I was ok. I finally discovered I could charge my phone at the NYU law school dorm which had a generator and hung out there with a wonderfully motley crew of New Yorkers. It may have been my favorite moment of the entire week-worth of adventure—small talking for 2 hours with my neighbors, all ages, all backgrounds, all in the same boat together: an MTA worker on her lunchbreak, the sous-chef of Minetta Tavern, a woman coincidentally on the board of my co-op who knew my life story on paper but had never met me until then, an old-school bartender, a New Zealander visiting her week old grandson just in time for the storm. That's also where I learned that above 30th street had both power and phone service... and warm coffee... A friend head-check was done. Family members where dialed. And a rescue ride to Brooklyn was secured until further notice. This is also when I remembered it was also Halloween night... and my friends happen to be Halloween enthusiasts. Hurricanes most certainly do not stop or even slow my friends from Halloween-y festivities.
Below, Jess and her impressive Day of the Dead makeup skills, Roger, amused.
By Thursday, more of the reality of the devastation had started to set in. I finally had access to the news, and even in parts of the city with power, it was clear that with the MTA down, phone service shoddy, and a serious gas-shortage in effect, this hurricane was going to drastically affect the infrastructure of all of the city. We entertained ourselves as best we could while also watching the news pictures in disbelief. In a city where no one owns cars, all of us were relatively stranded in our respective neighborhoods. I hoofed it back to the city to wander through the empty, dark streets of lower Manhattan to feed my lonely cat and did one of the strangest runs I've ever done in my ten years here—my usual route around the bottom half of the island along the water—but this time with much of East River Park trees strewn like Pick-Up-Sticks, and the seaport ghostly quiet except the sound of enormous water pump trucks sucking up standing water still filling up the subway stations and tunnels.
A week later, I'm finally back home, feeling very grateful that my loved ones and I are all ok. Events like this certainly put things in perspective, especially when this week I was really tempted to feel sorry for myself for an assortment of personal and now unimportant reasons. At best, my loved ones and I all just got to hang out together and sleep in. At worst, all freelancers or business owners, we lost a week of work. We have a lot to be grateful for. We only have right now and each other, and ultimately we are at the mercy of big bad mother nature. Now it's just time to do what we can to help out our neighbors in Rockaway, Coney, and Jersey. Please check back this week—I'm going to be selling prints on this blog at half price with 100% of proceeds going to the Rockaway Relief. In the meantime, if you are in the area, you can also help by donating your things to one of these donation locations.