Read Part I in a previous post.
Sorry for the delay, my living situation is still hectic. I haven’t been able to return home yet since heat and hot water have yet to return…and with today’s Nor’easter granting New York City it’s first snow of Autumn 2012, with temperatures hitting 20F when you account for wind, it’s just a bad time to return home. I didn’t know this before, but Con Edison delivers not just electricity but steam. And many buildings here still use steam for heat. It’s much cheaper than using electric heaters.
More pictures below the fold….
In this recap, it’s still Tuesday, 2012 Oct. 30.
Still in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, we passed a bit more destruction:
Without cellphones or landlines available to us, things went old school. To check on loved ones, you had to actually walk there (gasp!) and somehow get their attention when they’re holed up in their powerless apartment unit. This man gathered pebbles and tossed them at someone’s window, two floors up. It’s something I’ve only seen in teen-romance TV shows and movies.
By 5PM or so, a few buses were back on the street, fare-free. The bright blue flashes on the crown of M15 Select Service buses once again lit up the evening. The scary part? There were still no traffic cops at this point. Cop cars, firetrucks, utility vans, and personal cars alike were driving through the intersections and down the avenues in the pitch darkness. If you wanted to cross, sometimes the cars would slow down a bit. But in general, you just had to wait for a gap and run for it :)
Wednesday, 2012 Oct. 31: Halloween & A Quest for Power
Until Wednesday, there were only two places to get some wifi in my area of the Lower East Side. There was (A) the hospital lobby, and (B) the outside of a closed Starbucks. Many people flooded in to the hospitals once their power went out, ever since Tuesday morning. They saw the hospital sign glowing blue throughout the dark night, and thought they could get some of that juice for their phones. Tons of people asked to charge their phones, tons of people weaved in and out of the rooms, checking every outlet. But the hospital smartly disabled them. Although I would probably have charged up my phone if they were allowing it, I have to say it’s kind of low to take the LIMITED generator power of a hospital just so you can use your smartphone. There’s sick people in there, people who are really suffering, and they need that power more than we do. There’s a reason hospitals equip themselves with generators. As for the Starbucks, I didn’t realize it until later that it must have had wireless internet. I don’t really know how it was still broadcasting anything without power, but there were definitely people standing in front of the cafe, hoods up and faces nearly pressed against the black glass of the abandoned Starbucks. Everyone doing this had their smartphones out.
My sister and I packed out laptops and phones, then headed out to catch the bus. We planned to take the M15 bus up to 63rd street, to get some power at her high school classmate’s house uptown. But at this point, people were really flooding out of their apartments with suitcases. Walls of people lined the 1st Avenue and 14th street bus stop, uptown bound, and it was just impossible to get on the first, second and even third buses that came through. We ended up walking halfway, up past the evacuated Bellvue Hospital, up past the evacuated NYU Langone hospital, up past the border between Dark Manhattan and Normal Manhattan.
It was bizarre up there, to say the least. It was…normal. It was what our home was like just a few days ago. People went around like nothing had happened, like it was just a sprinkling of rain that fell over the city last Monday night…not a cloak of darkness. I marveled at the neon lights in store windows that read “OPEN”, or “ATM”. Up in my sister’s friend’s place, the tungsten lights actually felt great on my skin. I couldn’t stop smiling. We plugged in, enjoyed a few minutes of internet, and then had some burgers at Jackson Hole.
This was my first time there, but my sister and her friend revived many memories of eating at Jackson Hole during their high school career. All I knew was the food tasted great! By Wednesday i was so tired of eating fried rice and random odds and ends we could scrounge up at home. Lately I had been eating one big meal as lunch, then 2 hardboiled eggs for dinner. This terrible diet has led me to lose 2 lb in nearly 2 weeks…which is very drastic for someone who currently weighs 102lb. Usually it takes me like 1.5 months to lose 1lb! It was a little junky, but I loved the retro decor of Jackson Hole.
By Nightfall, it was time to return home. Hordes of people were still out, most notably migrating towards 59th Street to cross the Queensboro Bridge and escape Manhattan. There were no buses, no trains that went inter-borough, so this was their only means to get home.
Half the time a bus pulled by the station, it kept on going. Things resembled normalcy with some hectic icing. Buses would go out of service when they got stuffed so full of people they couldn’t even close the doors (and some people would get shoved out and left behind). Sometimes they went out of service and were empty, because someone from MTA HQ would climb up to the driver and tell him he was getting sent on a different route. Nevermind if the driver didn’t actually know the route, they had orders to carry out.
Life wasn’t totally dead in the lightless Lower East Side. A new restaurant opened its doors for the first time, lighting up one corner of 14th street with their generator. Traffic cops were finally stationed at every intersection in bright highlighter-yellow coats, directing cars. Headlines rushing down the streets were our only lights, aside from the waning moon. Other bars stayed open, and people drank surrounded by candles. I tried to get pictures but…it was just too dim, and I don’t walk around with a tripod :( Basically all these photos were taken at 6400 ISO, max for my poor little Canon Rebel T2i. On this sensor it makes most things look like I took them on a cellphone (-_-).
This main street was still fairly populated with people walking home, but being in the complete dark was still very eerie. Although this street felt safe just after sunset, it was still scary to be out there by yourself. No one would see who mugs you, no one could call 911. At best, you could hope that you were near a busy intersection and a traffic cop would hear your scream. I’m not sure whether a traffic cop would be able to leave his or her post and run to it, but here’s hoping they could. I have no idea if there were any spikes in crime or not during Sandy’s Reign of Darkness.
One of the worst things about having no power…..living on the TENTH floor of your apartment building!!!! While carrying heavy, metal-cased Macbook Pros and more, it was just murder.
Thursday, 2012 Nov. 1: The Southern Tip of Manhattan
Up bright and early, I went with my uncle to go visit the Southern tip of Manhattan….our home, which is still currently (as of Nov. 7) still without heat and hot water. On Thursday it was still powerless like the rest of New York below 39th street.
Parts of Chinatown had business as usual. People still sold their goods without electricity, and some restaurants even had cooked meat. Crispy, golden skinned pig hung in the windows, as well as barbecued roast pork. Given that Chinese in general do not like waste, I wasn’t entirely sure if these were leftovers from 3-4 days ago, or freshly cooked meat. It’s not like they refrigerate the cooked stuff normally…and I do eat that happily…but who knows.
I headed south from Chinatown, past a frazzled and derelict Verizon Data Center building. Truth be told….this window-less building with its exposed walls was already like that before the Hurricane. I was a little surprised to see it wasn’t more damaged.
South Street Seaport was completely messed up. Every business from South street to Front street to the edges of Fulton had been submerged. Even 3 days after the 14 feet high flood waters, they were still pumping water on Thursday. Yes, the seaport has known flooding since the 1700s, since the birth of NYC, since it was known as New Amsterdam and the residents spoke Dutch. But it’s probably been close to 10 years since the last flood, and nothing had ever been this bad in my lifetime.
When twilight settled over the Seaport, the sky turned half blue and half dusty yellow. It was beautiful.
And of course, my local grocery.
They were still selling stuff outside. But like the small delis and bodegas of the rest of the Lower East Side, you weren’t allowed to go in the actual building. Goods were bought and sold outside, on the street, in the daylight. That way they could see if you’re trying to steal from them.
And that’s all for the photos! The whole set (with more than what’s here) can be found in my Hurricane Sandy Flickr set.
It’ll probably take an entire month for that grocery to get up and running 100% again, and hopefully next week my building will have heat and hot water.
One could only hope.
At the very least, we’re all safe and we’re all together. It’s a nice time to be with family.