Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Hurricane Sandy Experience

Hello blog friends.  I know you must have been wondering where I was. Have I got a story to tell you!

I went to New York on Saturday, October 20th to attend the home going services of a friend's husband. It had been a little over a year that I'd been there to visit my family and friends, so even though the occasion was sad, I was looking forward to spending time with them.  What was supposed to be a 10-day stay extended to 16 days due to Hurricane Sandy.

It wasn't until Saturday, October 27th that I paid any attention to information on the weather; and that was because it was all over the news. Almost everyone said at that time that I'd be gone before it hit New York, or that it would be over by the time I was ready to leave. I don't think anyone thought Sandy would wreak such havoc.  We watched the news to hear and see what the city and boroughs were doing to prepare. We stocked up on essentials we would need in case of emergencies. At 7:00 pm on Sunday, all transportation ceased (it was weird not hearing the subway as it passed behind us); in all the years my sister's lived in that apartment, this was the first time i wouldn't hear the train.

On Monday morning, my youngest sister took me out (the worst of the storm had not yet hit the city) to walk around the block so I would experience the wind and rain (I live in Los Angeles, CA and I've experienced earthquakes, but never been in the midst of a hurricane.)  One thing I forgot to mention-- my sister lives across the street from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The trees were swaying to and fro; the wind was howling, and raindrops were falling, but not enough to soak us (we didn't walk with our umbrellas for this reason.)  We went back upstairs and continued to watch the news for more developments on the storm. By that evening, rain started pouring down and our lights started flickering. Though we never lost power, our satellite dish lost it's signal, so we were not able to watch the news. We left the apartment once more, walked half a block and saw that a tree had fallen in the middle of the intersection.  Here is a photo of that fallen tree.  We went back upstairs and braced ourselves to withstand what was to come. 

When we woke up the following morning, we got on the Internet for news. What we heard and saw was nothing compared to what transpired days after the storm had passed. We called family and friends; we found out that our brother had lost power from 4:00 pm the previous afternoon. Another friend heard water running and ran back in time to see that the canal near her home had overflowed and the water had flooded into her basement, knocking out her power; she was able to call us via her cell to give us updates; we lost contact with an Ecuadorian friend who was with us on Sunday, went home to New Jersey that afternoon, and lost power and all contact with the outside world. It would be 2-3 days before we heard from her again. Thank God she was safe. The area she lived in had been flooded. Her company put her and her family up in a hotel until it was safe for her to return home.  One other friend and her husband had gone on a cruise to Aruba on Saturday the 27th. They left their daughter at their home. When my sister called to find out how things were with her, she was told they'd lost everything in their basement (it was set up as a separate furnished apartment; their washer and dryer had washed away.) My sister, a city employee, could not go to work; Lower Manhattan had been flooded and all power was out; not to mention, there was no way to get across the bridge.  Prior to the storm hitting the East Coast, the airlines sent me a notification they were cancelling my flight out of New York due to the storm. On the day I was scheduled to depart (October 30th, the morning after the storm) 

On Wednesday, my sisters needed to go into Downtown Brooklyn, so we dressed (I was told to layer up, something I don't do when I'm home) and we left to go get a bus into the city. The buses were running and would be free for the next few days, however, because there were so many trying to get on them, we decided to walk (yes, we walked for an hour and a-half into Downtown Brooklyn.)  We passed people walking, jogging, and those standing up waiting to get on a bus. We saw some of the damage done by the storm.  The photo on the left is of a tree that fell over onto the railing at the Brooklyn Zoo.  

As the days passed the situation became much worse. Now New Yorkers had to deal with not having transportation (subway) to work (for those who could return to their places of employment.) Certain subway stations reopened and buses were assigned to take folk to the stations that were open and would get them close to or near enough to walk to work. The problem with this was there were so many people, they had to form lines to board the buses. I took photos of the line of buses, but nothing compares to being there and seeing it first hand.

Then came the next major crisis - gas shortage. Stations were running out of gas and in some cases, had gas but couldn't pump it because they had no electricity. People and cars were standing in line for hours. The folk standing in line with their red containers were fueling up to have enough gas for their cars in the days to come or for their generators if they had no electricity.  Tempers were short some folk tried jumping in front of the line. Here's a photo I took at one of the gas stations.

As the weeks have passed some areas have gone back to normal, but according to my sisters, many areas are still affected due to lack of electricity and yes, there is still the issue of gas shortage! Let's continue to pray for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and all areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.