Sunday afternoon we heard that the Mayor had decided that the subways and buses would stop running at 7pm in New York City, as that's where we live. I was a bit skeptical: "why close tonight already? Sandy, the hurricane, is not expected to hit New York till Monday night, isn't it?" Little did I know. Later that Sunday afternoon, the streets of New York started emptying: visitors left town, residents prepared for the upcoming super storm and tourists returned to their hotels. Sunday night was quiet: no taxis honking, no rain drops and no wind worth mentioning. Monday seemed even quieter, even fewer people on the streets, almost all stores and restaurants closed - with the exception of a few Irish pubs in our Turtle Bay neighborhood -. Even though the weather didn't seem that bad, I had closed my office in Chelsea - in downtown Manhattan -, mainly due to the lack of public transportation, the lifeline for commuters and New York residents alike in order to get around in this, usually, busy and bustling city.
Monday night the wind started picking up:
wind gusts hit against our windows, and this was the first time I felt the storm was actually arriving. This morning we woke up, not knowing what the damage would be or what the day would bring: the wind was still blowing, but our apartment seemed doing fine: power was on, telephones were working and so was the Internet. Before leaving to go outside and check the area, I reviewed the various online news papers: it then became clear that while Sandy was moving North last night, the damage had been devastating along the Jersey shore and beyond, closer to New York and also the city itself:
The New York Times reported:
"...Atlantic City was already in big trouble. At high tide around 8 a.m., officials said 70 to 80 percent of the city was underwater. Water as much as eight feet deep coursed through some streets, leaving them impassable. Heavy rains and sustained winds of more than 40 miles an hour, with gusts of more than 60 miles an hour, battered the city...."
The New York Post had as headline: "Drowntown NJ, Utter Havoc Throughout State"
Internationally, the BBC News reported: "Sandy: Storm-hit New York declared major disaster area" with an incredible image of a tanker washed on the streets of Staten Island.
The Dutch daily de Telegraaf opened one of its articles as follows: "......Chaos caused by this super storm, especially the cosmopolitan city of New York has been transformed into a ghost town with many parts of the city flooded or without power...."
and ABC News reported "Hurricane Sandy: Super Storm Slams East Coast States":
Clearly, a devastating storm had hit the Eastern seaboard, with never expected images from houses destroyed and boardwalks disappeared along the coast, and neighborhoods flooded in the cities. We had dodged the bullet in Turtle Bay as our neighborhood had hardly any visible damage: a few trees had cracked, but overall residents and buildings seemed fine. When we left our apartment later in the afternoon, our neighborhood's streets were filling with people, not just local residents but people seemingly from everywhere, visiting the now re-opened restaurants and bars. Only later did we realize that this influx was caused because so many other neighborhoods were without power, flooded or both. It almost seemed like a parallel universe: while the devastation was obvious elsewhere, people in our neighborhood tried to get back to normal as fast as possible. The hurricane was over, but the recovery and coping with the damages had only begun.