Strange Days- Hurricane Sandy + Updates

Sandy

As many of you already know, a week ago Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States pretty hard and left a lot of destruction in it’s wake. Now that things are slowly starting to get back to normal, I wanted to take a little time to reflect on what happened and explain what I’ve been up to the last few days (warning: this post is about to get long and rambly, as I try to sort out all of my thoughts and feelings).

Sunday 10/28: My roommate and I spent the morning and afternoon cleaning up after the Halloween party we threw the night before and we’re pretty tired. I’d been following along online for updates about Sandy and we thought about going out to buy a few more provisions, but we had a lot of food and drinks left over from the party, so we figured we’d be ok. Honestly, at this point I wasn’t really concerned. In fact, when I found out that work was cancelled on Monday in anticipation of the storm, I was thrilled! I’d had a pretty full weekend and it would be great to have an extra day just to relax.

Monday 10/29: Since one of our friends lived in Zone A, a mandatory evacuation zone, we invited him over to our place to come weather the storm with us. It was fun having a friend stay over and it felt a little bit like an impromptu slumber party. Tucked away in our little apartment, we still weren’t really worried. I mean, there was a lot of wind and some rain, but from the inside it didn’t seem too bad at all. We went about our day as usual (aside from the fact that we didn’t have work), cooked up some dinner, and prepared to watch a movie together. And then the power went out.

Tuesday 10/30-Friday 11/2: For about five days, we didn’t have heat, power, or cell reception in my apartment. When the power first went out, I kind of thought that it was temporary- that the power would come back on in a few hours, tops. Then we heard that a major power station nearby had exploded during the storm and that power wouldn’t be coming back for 3-4 days.

To say that I was totally unprepared for this was an understatement. Growing up in California, I’ve never experienced anything even close to a hurricane and I had a hard time taking the reports seriously. It wasn’t until I was sitting in dark, listening to the storm rage outside, that I thought, “Oh, this is a big deal.

By Wednesday, I realized I needed to venture outside and find cell service so that I could let my parents and family know that I was ok. Since they hadn’t heard from me in two days, they were definitely a little bit worried and relieved to hear from me. I also got back to all of my friends who had texted to ask if we were ok or to offer up their apartments if we needed a place to crash until power was restored. I was so touched by all of the people who called or sent a message to make sure we were ok and by the kindness of friends who offered up their already crowded apartments.

My roommate and I decided to go to a friend’s place to charge up our electronics and see if we could scout out some food. With the public transportation shut down and finding it extremely difficult to hail a taxi, we had to walk there (about an hour each way). We picked up some non-perishables at Duane Reade uptown and then I headed back downtown to my apartment by myself.

The best word to describe what it was like walking through a completely dark Manhattan at 5:30pm in the afternoon is strange. I mean, it was absolutely bizarre. I kept wondering to myself, “Is this for real? Is this really happening right now?” Basically, every building below 34th street was without power. This meant that when the sun set around 5pm that day, the lower part of the city was pitch black. I’m going to be honest- making that long walk home by myself, I was scared. I’m sure you’ve all heard of New York as the city that never sleeps and it’s true. Even in the middle of the night, buildings are lit up, there are cars whizzing by, and lots of activity on the streets. But not this week. To see lower Manhattan all dark felt wrong. It was all wrong.

I spent that night in my apartment alone and it was eerie. I was hyper-aware of every little sound and walked around my apartment cautiously and slowly, expecting something to jump out at me at any moment. When I remembered that it was Halloween that night, the whole situation felt even more strange. I imagined other people in other states, dressing up and celebrating Halloween as normal.

On Friday, my roommate heard that they were giving out food and supplies in Alphabet City, so we decided to walk over to the location and check it out. When we got there, volunteers were handing out food in an abandoned lot and the line wrapped around the fence and down the block. We decided not to stay because it was all very overwhelming and it seemed like the wait would have been several hours, but I still have the image of all the tired faces standing in that line in my mind.

We then headed uptown, searching for any place where we could charge our phones and computers. We finally stumbled into a Staples uptown, where we saw people huddled over surge protectors, waiting for their electronics to charge. My roommate was really worried that the employees at Staples wouldn’t want us to be in there siphoning their electricity, but it was clear that these were extenuating circumstances and no one in Staples seemed to mind that we weren’t there to buy anything. Waiting for our devices to charge gave us time to catch up on the latest Sandy updates and we saw an article that power might be restored to our area as soon as that night, or by the next day at the latest. We didn’t want to get our hopes up, but we were both secretly hoping and wishing that the power would come back that night.

When we finally made it back to our apartment, we were tired from our jaunt uptown, but happy to have our phones with more than 3% battery and snacks to last a couple more days. We lit our candles and huddled under our comforters, prepared for another cold, strange night in our apartment. I was flipping on to the next page of my book, when suddenly I heard a beep. “What could that be?” I thought to myself. And then in the next instant I realized- it was the microwave!

I jumped out of my bed, rushed over to my light switch, and flipped it up. And happy happy joy joy, the power was back! Which of course led to me running through the apartment, turning on all the lights and simultaneously yelling, “THE POWER IS ON!” I called my parents and updated twitter so that everyone would know that I could be reached again.

Saturday 11/3- Sunday 11/4: The last few days for me have been about trying to get my life back to normal. Of course, having the power restored didn’t magically fix all of the city’s problems, but it certainly helped a great deal. Around the city, you can see signs of people trying to get things back in order.

One big thing that struck me throughout this whole experience was how the people of New York City banded together during this natural disaster. Restaurants gave away free food. Many stores let anyone and everyone come in to borrow power and charge their electronics. People shared taxis. Volunteers gave out food and supplies to those in need. It was really amazing to see the city pull together to face the destruction of Sandy.

When something’s happening on the other side of the country or a few states away, it’s hard to feel affected because of the distance. But when something happens to your city, to your home, you definitely feel it. It was so strange when I was able to reconnect and see other’s Facebook updates and Instagram pictures of life as normal, as if nothing had happened. And then I realized, nothing had happened to them. I’m not begrudging anyone at all for continuing to live their lives, just observing how two people can be in completely different situations.

Even though my life is starting to get back on track, it’s important for me to remember that lots of people are still suffering from the effects of Sandy. Many many people are still huddling in the dark in their homes and some people lost their lives during Sandy. I want to encourage anyone who can spare a little money to donate to the disaster relief efforts of the Red Cross to help Sandy victims. You can do so by going to their website here or texting REDCROSS to the number 90999.

For those who made it all the way to the end of this post, thank you so very much for reading. To all the people who called, tweeted, messaged me to make sure I was ok, thank you from the bottom of my heart. These have been very strange days, but I know that over time things will return to normal. My posts will eventually return to normal, although first I had to update you guys and share what was on my mind. I’m grateful that I’m ok and that all my friends and family also made it out of the storm ok. I’m grateful that things weren’t any worse in my neighborhood. And I’m grateful for all the support NYC is receiving from concerned citizens all around the world.

I hope all of you out there are safe and sound and well.
xx Nnenna

  • Good to hear that you are safe! Thinking good thoughts for those struggling with the loss of their homes and/or loved ones.

    • Thanks so much Carrie!

  • Great post! Glad you’re safe. My brother lost his power in the West Village as well as his gf in the East Village. They were my refugees for the past week as they also had no cell phone service, heat or power. It was kind of crazy that as soon as you passed 39th there was civilization.

    I was not that prepared either but thankfully I didn’t lose any power since I’m above 39th. I can’t imagine what those in Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn are feeling. Some of my friends in New Jersey last night! So crazy… I donated blankets, food, clothes and whatever else I could but I know there’s a long journey to recovery ahead for NYC.

    • I know what you mean- there was such a stark divide between the power and no-power sections of the city. It was unreal.

      I’m glad that you made it through safe and think it’s absolutely wonderful that you’ve taken the time to donate to those still in need :)

  • Glad to hear you made it through the storm okay Nnenna, I know what you mean about not wanting to take those news reports seriously – even after Irene last year I still did not want to believe I’d be without power again for another week, and this time I sort of refused to go out and look at the destruction.

    Hope life gets back to normal soon, for you and for everyone who was effected by the storm.

    • Thank you Lydia- I’m happy that you relate. I still kind of can’t believe the amount of destruction that happened- it seems like a bad dream/nightmare.

  • So glad to hear you’re okay and back with power!

  • Oh wow Nnenna, so scary to read about your experience..I’ve been following along via Instagram and Twitter. In Boston there wasn’t much damage. I was in Oakville Ontario at the time of the storm, and we lost power for about 50 min but realized we were so unprepared as well. We had the same thought as you initially, that it wasn’t going to be as bad, but it was pretty scary, being that far from NY and NJ, I can’t imagine what it was like being in the path! Glad to hear you’re safe.

    • I’m very glad to hear that Boston wasn’t hit too hard and that you’re ok! Thanks so much for reading Smita :)

  • heather

    OMG! I’m glad you are safe and alive lol I don’t think I could be alone in my apartment without power or heat. I would have been WAY to scared (I’ve seen one to many scary movies). Yea Halloween def. didn’t feel like Halloween, I had actually forgotten that it was Halloween until I took a walk and saw a bunch of little kids all dressed up. Ugh I feel awful for everyone that lost their homes, friends/family, power…it’s so heartbreaking. I went on saturday to donate goods to the victims in Red Hook it’s just so heart breaking to see these people suffering but so heart warming to see a lot of people coming out to volunteer their time and donate goods. There’s so much that needs to be done within the next months to come. I really hope that Mayor Bloomberg and get it together and find these people temporary living situations.

    http://fashionistanygirl.blogspot.com/

    • I wasn’t scared to spend the night alone until I was walking home and realized how truly dark it was. Luckily I had my kitty Milton to keep my company, otherwise I don’t think I could have done it! Yes, I hope that the city does all it can to help all of the many families who are in need right now.

  • Oh my goodness. I am so glad you’re ok and that you and your friends were able to get through that rough patch. It’s been so shocking to see all the photos and read all the stories and I hope that everyone helps in some way or another. Glad to have you back!

    • Thank you Jenmarie! I’m very happy to be getting back in the swing of things :)

  • Katherine

    Wow that’s crazy! But glad that you are safe and managed to charge up your phones so you could contact family. I have friends in NY and NJ and seeing their pics with cars being flooded and not being able to come down from their apartment for days would have been an ordeal in itself! Stay safe!

    katattack2000.wordpress.com

    • Thank you Kat! I know, it’s a little hard for me to believe too, and I was here!

  • Sylvia

    So glad ur ok. I’ve lived through a couple hurricanes in Charleston. Things will get back to normal after awhile hang in there :)

    • Thanks so much Sylvia for your encouraging words :)

  • I didn’t even think that you might not have seen a hurricane before– Sandy was my fifth or sixth. I still can’t believe power was out that long. I kind of equate a dark New York with an apocalyptic New York, like one that everyone has abandoned. Very, very odd.

    • Yep, thinking back on it I realized that I’ve never experienced a hurricane before. Glad that you were ok in PA and hope you can come back to the city soon :)

  • Eli

    Glad to hear you’re back to getting connected and that everything is okay.

  • Yanira Michelle

    Happy to hear your safe! xo

    http://www.michellemignon.com

  • Thanks so much for sharing. I don’t have any friends or family out east, so naturally I was thinking of all the bloggers I know in New York. I’m glad to hear that you’re okay and I’m so glad that you have your power back!

    • Thanks so much for reading Jackie! :)

  • Glad you are safe and well.