I am writing this laying on a comfortable bed in the Roosevelt Hotel. My Mom is in the room adjacent to mine and my Sis is a room down the hall with Rosie and her bf. We are clawing back in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We were warned of what was to come and we prepared but not really. I had water bottles galore at home, had food stocked in the freezer and in cans. I also had two buckets of water. I didn’t do the fill your tub cause I didn’t imagine the storm to take out NYC. This is New York. We never sleep. We are the greatest city in the world. Yet, in that hubris, we didn’t think Mother Nature would prove us to be just like any other city and state. I always felt Nature’s equivalent of a knockout punch is something it couldn’t muster in the Northeast and especially in NYC. Hurricanes often fall short of their prowess down south. Earthquakes are out west. Tornadoes are in the middle of the country. Every time one of those events happened near the tri-state area, we brushed it off and stood tall. Well, Mother Nature had something up its sleeve.
This was called another “Perfect Storm”, hearkening back twenty years to the storm that was so famous it turned into a book and then a movie. The culmination of a violent storm from the south which received an additional boost from cold weather circulating from the Northwest, created a hurricane on steroids. It turned perfectly into what is the heart of the tri-state area: Atlantic City. Destruction was its game and it destroyed everything in its path. One by one, cities, townships fell to Sandy. Then it came to New York City.
We had been receiving reports and updates that the storm was upon us. NYC shut down the subways one full day before Sandy came. While people, me included, took it easy on Saturday and enjoyed the fall weather, on Sunday we did some last minute shopping to prepare. Even with the impending storm, I had a last meal with a few friends to enjoy the outdoors as we knew we would be relegated to being cooped up at home and suffer from major cabin fever. So, on Monday, the day of the storm, we sat and waited. I worked from home while my office was closed and handled a number of different matters. I worked late into the evening, until 7pm when I shut down and watched TV to see what was going on. News was reporting the destructive winds and tides it created. Twitter was blazing with updates of areas being crushed by Sandy. The 8pm hour came and with that was the 2nd Emergency warning on my phone from the Office of Emergency Management to get indoors. With that noise blaring on the phone and the reports from ABC sounding more and more severe, the lights continued to flicker. I kept thinking, we’ll ride this out. We are NYC. Then the lights went out so did all the power. I sat in the dark momentarily and then turned on my flashlight. I heard the groans from others in my building in the hall as people went to check the hallway. Pitch dark. I too checked and then sat in the chair and waited for the lights to come on. It was going to come on. It has to. We never have blackouts like this due to storms.
It still hasn’t come on. 2 plus days later I find myself in a hotel smelling fresh and clean and think of how I ended up here. After the lights went out, I lay around on the sofa and then went to bed. I would wake up to power. I woke up to no power. I still had water pressure so I was able to use the bathroom and clean up a little but I noticed the pressure decreasing. By 11am, there was no pressure and no water. I started to use my buckets to wash hands and plates as I cooked using my scripto to light the burners. I made pizza using the oven and baked tater tots. My neighbor was also holed up at her place so we shared food. It felt like survivor. I also made stove top Italian sausage and baked beans. It was good. Ate it by candlelight. The lack of showering didn’t bother me so much. Found a transistor radio and listened to the news. Sis came up with the idea to book a hotel. It would be good for all of us to have that in case this lasts longer than a day. While I was hesitant, nothing beats home, my need for electricity was strong. My cellphone was dying. My laptop was dead. I needed power. I also needed to shower. So I agreed.
We booked a hotel for Wednesday as Tuesday was booked solid. Walking through the hallways with a flashlight and down the 4 flights made me wonder and appreciate the need for a hotel. I didn’t like paying money for a place that was in the area with electricity. I only lived 15 blocks from the hotel and it seemed unfair and expensive. Yet, as Wednesday went along and I tired of smelling and feeling gross as well as needed to use a bathroom badly with no one to vent cause my cellphone was dead, I decided it was time to get going. At this point Mom was staying with me and with her health not being great the last year, getting her down four flights was quite a feat but with the help of Derek, we were able to walk her down the stairs. With wheelchair ready, we put her in the chair, grabbed some essentials and rolled off to the hotel. Sis made sure that Mom’s room shared the double doors with mine so I can check in on her. We got to our rooms and the first thing I did was use the bathroom. I know. TMI but it was what happened. I had to get clean. Seriously, the things we take for granted, the little things, are magnified when we do not have them at the ready. I missed light and was angry and sad when I walked up to 41st street and saw lights there but behind me was pitch dark. Where I lived we lived in what felt like the stone age. Not to mention everyone just seemed sad and in a daze. Didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know where to go. I saw people in ATM booths charging phones and laptops. Same on the street between 39th and 40th and 3rd avenue. The office building had graciously allowed people to bring a power surge strip to charge their phones. A line formed and people calmly stood or sat on the ground charging. There was a niceness in the air with New Yorkers and people were willing to help as much as they could. I checked in on a few elderly people in my building whom in the past gave me no mind but were thankful that I brought them water and checked on them. Shared batteries with them so they could have full powered flashlights. Humanity wasn’t washed away by Sandy. In fact, it appeared stronger.
While Sandy may have made us bend, it did not break us. I will wait for electricity with the hopes it comes Thursday and then resume life but knowing that we were tested but we survived. That, is our strongest testimony of the human spirit.