The unimaginable happened. Hurricane Sandy, that unwelcomed and uninvited guest to this teeming city of communities and commerce stealthily slipped up the coastline breaching every barrier in her path. Like so many storms in the recent past New Yorkers had become immune to worry, sure that the weathermen and women were simply hyping a flurry or drizzle to grab the spotlight from the bigger stories in the world.
Preparedness for many of us consisted of buying extra mixers to go with an extended cocktail hour and a back up of popcorn to get us through the extra films we’d rented. Many of us eschewed the nasty business of taping our windows simply because the messy residue of glue left behind was more trouble than its worth when time came to remove it. Better to just kick back, keep the yummies coming and for god’s sake have enough batteries at hand for the TV’s remote. I even ventured to New Jersey to an auction of art and mid-century modern furniture the day the storm hit thinking I’d have an edge with fewer people as foolhardy as myself to venture out. Needless to say, the sparse auction room was but a trick of the eye with 1000 people on the internet and phone lines bidding everything out from under we poor suckers sitting impotently on our folding chairs.
Well upon leaving at 7 p.m. the rain had started and there was a bit of a gust in the air. By the time we got to the Goethals Bridge and on into Brooklyn Heights (I needed to close my windows, block the fireplace, a wind tunnel for soot and wild life, get some fresh undies, my computer and my rain boots) the rain and wind was blowing sideways down the street. Staying on the UWS seemed wise considering the Mayor had shut down all public transport and closed almost all the bridges; so needlessly dramatic, not to mention inconvenient to my way of thinking. Throughout the night I kept waking up to the screaming wind and rain battering the windows but chalked it up to a noisy storm. It wasn’t.
The following morning showed me and everyone else from New England to North Carolina and New Jersey most dramatically of all that Hurricane Sandy came, saw and conquered us all. Power for many tens of thousands, if not millions is but a memory, even a week after the event.
Lower Manhattan (from 39th street down) is without light, water or heat, other than what little generators are able to muster. Businesses are shut for the time being. Underground garages, basements of buildings and lobbies and low-lying parks are submerged. The subway system to a large degree is a series of subterranean waterways. Many, many homes in the outer boroughs were burned to the ground with remaining gas lines still burning unabated. Trees are down throughout the city and suburbs taking with them essential power lines, access to roadways and internet/cellular services are compromised in unprecedented ways.
All of this is just to say that unlike the past where we all squeaked by with little more than a snow day from school or some branches and the odd tree down in a park or some less fortunate neighborhood, this time we got kissed by the big one. All we can do is exercise patience, be helpful and understanding to those around us who are suffering the same discomforts and keep an eye on how the state and national government work through this catastrophe for and with us. That is a telling and important story, of its own. The next time we are threatened with a visit by a boisterous, inelegant blow-hard like Sandy, let’s do all we can to keep her where she belongs… outside instead of in.