Weathering the Storm
Forget reading matter. Forget cultural reporting. The only thing happening in my world at the moment is Superstorm (formerly Hurricane) Sandy, so that is what I'm afraid you are going to hear about.
Things were going fine until last night, though I was getting slightly claustrophic: my husband and I had been holed up in a 450-square-foot Greenwich Village apartment since early afternoon on Sunday. Our Brooklyn-based dinner date for Sunday night canceled, since the subways were to stop running at 7 p.m. in preparation for the disaster, so even though some neighborhood restaurants were still open at that point, we just stayed home, cooked pasta, watched a DVD -- all very quiet.
There was rain on Monday morning but not much. We ventured out in slickers and hats (too windy for umbrellas) to see what the Hudson River looked like at about eleven a.m. I had never seen the river so high. It was even beginning to spill over the embankment onto the path we normally walk on, in a mini-flood of little puddles -- nothing scary yet, but we didn't stay out there long.
After a relatively quiet afternoon, the rain started to build and the wind got very strong just before dark. I began to see lightning flashes in the sky; the tall tree across the street was seriously bending in the wind, and we learned via the internet that a huge crane uptown had broken and was dangling from its very tall (and as yet uncompleted) luxury building. And then, at about 8:30 on Monday night, the power suddenly went out -- not just in our apartment, and not just in our part of the Village, but all over lower Manhattan. Apparently an East Village substation exploded (though there are other causes given too). Tucked up in bed for warmth, I read a novel for about an hour on my iPad, but then decided to conserve its charge; ditto for the iPhone, through which I picked up my email this morning. We have gas, so were able to make breakfast with coffee, but we have no light, no electricity, no internet. You'd be surprised (I am surprised) at how rapidly life deteriorates without these things. Plus I can't take a shower because a) we have no hot water and b) my husband, with excellent disaster-preparedness instincts, has filled the entire tub with water, which we may well need before this is over. At least we still have running water at the moment, and we also have food: we topped up our supplies this morning from the corner deli (the only thing open for miles around), where the owner was selling food for cash, having parked his car facing into the deli so as to illuminate the darkened store with his headlights.
My son, who is out in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, reports that they have full power there, but everything in Manhattan below 14th Street and most of what I passed through between 14th and 42nd was out. I shared a cab going uptown with a woman who was fleeing her Union Square area apartment for a hotel on East 52nd -- she not only had no power, but no water either. My Hunter College office, from which I am writing this, has full power and light, but it is a pain to get up here, with no subways or buses running and very few cabs available -- and I only talked my way in on an emergency basis (need to recharge devices, call family members, etc.), since the building is presently being used as a shelter for the evacuated. Still, I am going to try to get here at least once a day for a few hours, to savor the benefits of civilization. We have no idea how long it will be before things return to normal. For tonight, at any rate, everything remains closed, and Con Ed is saying it could be days --possibly even a week -- before all the power comes back on in New York.