Post-Sandy: Reflecting on the Past 2 Weeks

It’s been two weeks since Sandy swept through our little city and took away from so many people what had been considered a basic need until then. Electricity, hot water, a house, a car – the stories of families who were hit in an unfortunate and dreadful way are until this date never-ending.

I mentioned how it looked like roughly a week after the natural catastrophe. Now more than two weeks have passed. And yet, it is still one of the most important topics talked about in this town. How could it not be? The projects I volunteered at last week now have power but they don’t have hot water and heat. We did have a snowstorm in between, which must have made it close to unbearably cold to its residents. Then Far Rockaway still looks like one of the biggest garbage disposals on the Northeast. No electricity here. A good amount of people are continuously trying to wedge the flood waters out of their houses because they have simply nowhere else to go.

It’s been a shock, this occurrence so close to the end of the year. Think Katrina. Think other painful happenings around the world that most likely will always remain in our memories and hopefully also hearts. While our work now is good to go with power, heat AND internet, it still does not feel quite right. A coworker is on the road for three long hours to and fro Manhattan (totaling up to 6 hours a day in commute) just to get to work from the destructed Staten Island. Another has lost power in New Jersey for a short interval while the snow swept through the counties.

Most trains were up and running at the beginning of last week. Still, getting on that N train during rush hour was more than stressful. Once I was stuck on the yellow line for 1 ½ hours straight. A ride that usually took 20 minutes stretched out to 4 times its length because the suspended R train drew too many people into the subway cars. Imagine people squeezing against you and being in your face for 90 minutes straight. Yes, quite a torture!
The D-train, on the contrary, was half-empty and not too many commuters seemed to be taking it. At the end of the week, the subway had somehow leveled out. First the G train was back in service. And then the L-train was restored late Wednesday evening. Finally the Willamsburger crowd had a means of travel when getting into the city and back. Cut off from Manhattan for one and a half weeks – it must have been an exceptional time for that otherwise so trendy and hip crowd.

One problem that has remained up until yesterday: The gas shortage. Following Jersey’s Governor Christie’s tactic, Bloomberg decided to ration out gas to New York. Depending on the license plate ending in an odd or even number, you were allowed to fill up your tank at certain days of the week. Ridiculous, it seems. Nonetheless, a crucial means to control a mass panic under some heated up cars in New York.

The Path train that connects New Jersey to us now runs but only until 9:30 at night (it used to work 24 hours/ 7 days a week). I believe most people have been able to return back to work. Except for my roommate, he works down at Battery Park. Lucky him can do some work from home, but most likely he is tired of that by now. For the same reason his work place is closed, the R-train only runs until Jay Street-Metrotech, which is one of the last stops in Brooklyn before the R goes into Manhattan. The tunnels are still being restored. No subway to the Staten Island Ferry. The video below might illustrate how insanely flooded this speck of earth was during the hurricane.

Hurricane Sandy on Bikes

We are getting back to normal. Slowly but steadily. The wounds are closing and leaving behind some nasty scars. No one will easily forget what happened during the last few days of October in 2012. How the city of cities was forced to face mass destruction, life changing circumstances, and once again truly the worst and best of people.