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.

Cleaning Up Sandy’s Mess: Volunteering in Red Hook

It’s been a while since I updated this blog. Many things have happened in between… Voting for a new president. A snowstorm hitting New York… It’s been some time but Sandy is not yet forgotten. Some people are still without electricity in parts of the City, New Jersey, and New York State. Such as Brooklyn. Trains have partially picked up service but Williamsburg is still pretty much cut off from the rest of the world. Literally! No gas, no trains, and the only way to get a hold of someone is either by phone or foot.

Despite all the misery, or rather, because of it all, many people felt like helping out others who were not in need. So did I, as on Sunday I got to volunteer for the very first time in my life! I would have never imagined it to be right after a hurricane hit this city. But the weekend was long and the more I did nothing, the more I felt I finally wanted to do something about this miserable feeling of helplessness. Luckily, my roommate told me about volunteer opportunities that were close by and easily accessible for us since we were in Brooklyn. “People in Red Hook still don’t have electricity,” she explained on Friday. “It’s insane how much is going on there; the church definitely needs some help this weekend!”

So early in the afternoon my friend and I took a train and a bus over to the formerly flooded part. While we were passed on at the community center, we walked down to the Red Hook Initiative. “Sure, we can always use a helping hand!” a guy exclaimed as soon as we got there. A line of homeless-looking people had gathered around hot food supplies that were handed out to the less fortunate. However, my friend had brought with her own gallon of water and canned food, so we wanted to get rid of her donations first.
“Yes, non-prepared foods will have to be donated elsewhere… Just go down three blocks and there should be a church on your left,” the guy told us while turning to a helpless resident asking for blankets.

Donating food with a friend at a church in Red Hook

“This volunteer stuff is not really super-organized,” is all we thought and then we went down to the church. A mass of people was trying to get rid of all the stuff they brought. “Blankets and flashlights across the street please, water to your left and canned food to your right,” a woman cried out. My friend and I were a tiny bit confused and started to become annoyed with how complicated donating had become. “Here, I’ll take that from you. Of course not for me, for the church,” a guy said and carried our donations up the church steps after noticing how helpless we looked. Done deal!

We then went back to the Initiative and joined a group of approximately 40 people, all eager to help out. We were asked to form groups of 6 people and then the assignment was explained to us: We were to enter the projects and take on two buildings per group. Since every floor had about 5 apartments and every building had 6 floors, we were good to go for the next two hours or so. Our task was to knock on people’s doors, ask them if they needed medical assistance, and jot down what they had to say in case it seemed like an emergency situation. Which really none of us would have known how to react had it come down to a true emergency situation, to tell you the truth.

Volunteering in Red Hook

We trotted off to so-called buildings 19 and 20. Our group all of a sudden had 9 people instead of 6, but no one really cared anymore. The people hanging outside of the projects eyed us suspiciously but let us pass without further comments. I was pretty happy it was broad daylight and I was somewhat protected by 8 more white people by my side.

A group of teenagers had huddled underneath the stairways, since an outlet had been put there to charge phones and other electronic devices. Three of us took on the fifth floor. Out of all those five apartments, one person answered and assured us that she was fine. Then an elderly lady came wheezing up the stairs as we were about to go to floor 2. She had a hard time climbing up the steps so we asked her if everything was okay. She said she needed an asthma pump soon since she had lost hers. For some reason, she kept running up and down the stairs, though, and we saw her again outside as we left the building. A few of the other emergencies were lack of insulin for diabetics and then of course some more asthma cases.

As we entered the second building, a strong smell of feces struck our noses. We had decided to take on one building with four people only just to not give the people a heart attack when having too many volunteers banging on their doors. Nothing too special here. In the third house we actually ran into another group of volunteers who had mistaken this complex for their project. But whatever, no one really had a plan by now anyways. I rang the bell of an old Polish couple – they were probably around 70 years old. They didn’t speak English but their apartment smelt strongly like gas. Such as so many other apartments we had seen.

Volunteering in the Projects

Over 80 percent of the apartments in the projects had no electricity and it seemed that only arbitrary ones had power for whatever reason. So in order to keep warm, especially the elderly had decided to just turn their oven up a notch and run the risk of inhaling poison in exchange for any kind of heat. After one and a half hours we were done. We then saw another group of volunteers, possibly with a different organization, going from building to building and handing out foods and other supplies. We felt that this was not really the sense of having us bothered the people first, since both the food and the medical examination could have all been done at once.

When we got back and reported to the Initiative with our notes in our hands, we didn’t feel like we had accomplished much. And the odd vibes we got when entering the area made us feel bad for the people who had to endure living there without power, especially during night time. There might be many harmless people in the projects but all it takes is one bad person to turn your night into a true night mare, were our thoughts as we parted.

It felt good to get out there and do something and many other people had the same ideas on that particular weekend. However, it could have been a bit more organized by the organizations, as to not randomly bother people for 10 different things in one single day. My friend in Williamsburg loaded trucks with care packages to be sent to destroyed areas. Another friend actually drove down to the Rockaways. How she managed to get gas in a fuel-impoverished city is a mystery to me. The picture below shows a washed-away boardwalk on what used to be my favorite beach this summer. It’s incredible things like these that make me understand how strong this storm really was…

A truly sad sight at Far Rockaway…. The wooden stems are what is left of the “boardwalk”

Dealing with Sandy’s Aftermath: A Week of Chaos

A dark Lower Manhattan in Sandy’s Aftermath

This week is slowly coming to a close. However, the wounds caused by the hurricane that hit New York, New Jersey, and other states are still wide open. The full extent of the storm was well hidden to us at the time of the last two posts.

Wednesday morning I was supposed to report back to work. Such as thousands of other people all throughout the 5 boroughs. Since the trains were not functioning, our job asked us to take our own cars or cabs they would reimburse us for. Flagging down a taxi proved to be harder for everyone else, except for me. I had one down in only 5 minutes. Seeing the traffic all around the Barclay’s Center made me feel a bit queasy. And trying to get out of Brooklyn was simply hell. Driving over the Manhattan Bridge was almost a piece of cake compared to the bumper-to-bumper scenario in downtown Brooklyn and before.

We drove through a somewhat less lively but nonetheless depressing Chinatown. Unkempt people, no matter what ethnicity, waiting in a long line for the bus to Uptown. Students trying to get a ride out of this city. Then the ghost town of the West Village and the rest of Chelsea. A family with two small girls, evidently not having taken a shower in days, with desperate looks in their eyes and even sadder expressions while waiving their hands for a cab. An angry woman shaking her fist at us because I was the only passenger in an otherwise empty cab.

After one hour I was finally in Midtown – way sooner than most of my coworkers. The horror stories from them piled up one by one: People from Queens were stuck in traffic for up to 2 1/2 hours before they made it to work. Other Brooklynites paid 75 bucks for a 2-hour cab ride which would have cost them 20 bucks max under normal circumstances.

That one morning by itself was the beginning of an endless frustration reaching throughout the entire week. The Empire State Building had its power up, alright, thanks to its own generators and what-nots. However, ConEd had turned off the heating. We sat bundled up in our winter coats, trying to get some work done and being hit over the head when pictures from Staten Island, Breezy Point, and New Jersey reached us through the online news. A heartbreaking story of a coworker who had lost his house and car all in one night. Another who was scraping sewage water remnants from her basement walls. And yet another stuck without electricity in Staten Island.

Traffic in Brooklyn on Thursday

It turned out that a total of four people lived in Brooklyn, and since we were pretty much all on the same route (Park Slope and Sunset Park), a coworker with a car volunteered to drive us to and from work until the day the subway was running again. While driving down the FDR, we passed the East Village, or rather, the depressing sight of ultimate darkness of what had once resembled a carousel ride.

On Thursday, subways resumed partial service to Uptown Manhattan and from Queens to the City (stopping at Times Square). Brooklyn was still cut off from Manhattan. The MTA started engaging shuttle buses from the Barclay’s Center to Manhattan. The lines were a total chaos: People waited as long as 3 1/2 hours to get onto their “ride.” As we drove past one of those horrendous lines, we saw people lined up around more than 6 blocks. Traffic was still dense in the morning. Police officers were checking if the minimum of three passengers per car was met. Whoever had less persons was asked to pick up waiting hitchhikers on the side of the bridges or to turn around and not enter Manhattan.

We decided to evade “rush hour” traffic and drive home at 3 o clock already. A wise decision. Subways started resuming service throughout Brooklyn, but still not into Manhattan. The buses were still a complete chaos. Much more pedestrians than usual could be found on the bridge throughout this entire week. Horror stories from the working subway lines in Queens were discussed at work: People were fighting over seats and shoving others from the benches. Passengers were smashed against the train windows but at least they had gotten on.

The updated MTA map that was valid until Saturday

More stories from residents of Lower Manhattan made the round: Supposedly their Uptown brothers and sisters denied them access when they went into hotels and asked if they could at least charge their phones. The discrepancy between this city sometimes still baffles me: Only one block over and it could have been you without power for 5 long days, 40th Street!

On Friday, the ESB started having problems with electricity in certain rooms. Our Internet gave up. We basically were simply incapable of doing our work because of these technical issues. Electronic heaters were bought and put into our offices so that we could take our winter coats off. It was pretty much a wasted day.

Horror news of a snow storm hitting us next week made the round. All of Lower Manhattan was still darkened out then. I started asking friends if they knew someone who was still stuck there and that they should get out before the second storm hits. Work asked a few people to come in on Saturday, only if the power and Internet was working again, of course. When I told my friends, everyone was shocked. In a state of chaos, we need a weekend without having to go through the excruciating pains get to Manhattan. Everyone needs these two days off to recover from the bad news, the frustration, and the shock that surrounded everyone who had to return to work and go through disastrous traffic or deal with half of New York still being out of power.

Traffic jams everywhere

Another crisis was slowly creeping up on us: The gas shortage! When we drove home once again on the last workday of this week, we found a line of up to ten blocks long leading from the Brooklyn Bridge all the way to Atlantic Avenue. People must have been waiting for hours already! The news reported a man pulling a knife at someone cutting the line at a gas station in Queens. We had enough of this chaotic week and just wanted to be left alone with our own worries, not having to bother with getting to and fro the City.

It also happened to be my friend’s birthday yesterday, so I ended up walking those 1 1/2 hours from the Slope to Williamsburg. Since the cabs were now charging outrageous fees due to the gas shortages, I tried a bus first, but two crowded ones drove by without even halting. After 30 minutes I had enough. As it was still early in the evening, I made it to the isolated part of Brooklyn safe and sound. A short stint past the famous Marcy Avenue Projects, but it was still early at night. At the same time, power was restored in almost all of Lower Manhattan. From over half a million households, now only 5,000 are left powerless. What a true wonder ConEd performed last night! The happy Facebook posts on my friends’ walls were endless and heartbreaking at the same time.

And then this morning finally some more good news: The 4 and 5 were the first subway lines to go all the way from Brooklyn through Manhattan to the Bronx! Hourly updates poured in: The Q to be restored by the afternoon, the 2 and 3 by tomorrow. The D up and running on Sunday. Now the only trains that are missing are mostly in Williamsburg: The G and L lines will most likely take until sometime next week to function properly again. The L is underground and all the tunnels have been flooded. Seeing pictures on the Gothamist really makes me appreciate that at least a few subway lines are up in the running this weekend. I will not yet take advantage of them but hope to get to work on Monday that I have more options than a car or a cab.

New York finally announced that they won’t hold their marathon this coming Sunday. One of the sanest pieces of news I have heard do so far in this matter. It had caused a lot of disgruntlement and even hatred when it came to this topic. How could a marathon be carried out when Staten Island, Manhattan and other parts were still struggling to digest what had happened to their destroyed homes? Luckily, hypocrisy did not prevail, even though Bloomberg’s initial argument was that the marathon would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars revenue… So everyone who flew out to run can help as a volunteer if he or she really wants to support this city!

What is the situation right now? The gas shortage and frustration connected to it still persists and most likely will for a long time. While Manhattan is almost restored to its old self, the often forgotten and in this case even neglected borough of Staten Island is struggling to keep up with restoration. New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester are mostly still powerless and have no heated water. Whenever this will be back to normal – who knows!

Currently I am simply thankful for living in one of the lucky areas and having had the option of a ride to and from the city. The initial state of frustration is giving way to depression and sadness at all the damage caused in this city. We survived but the wounds are still fresh and nowhere closed to being healed.

Hurricane Sandy: Day 2 – Over But Not Really – We got Hit!

Boy, what a night and day we had! While I was snuggled up in my Brooklyn apartment, all ready to fight the storm but essentially falling asleep over some old seasons of “Revenge,” the rest of New York was in the midst of a true battle.

Queens extinguished fires all night long and saw houses get washed onto the tracks. Staten Island also had some extensive burning and flooding going on. Lower Manhattan lost power at some point in time during the evening, starting at 7 PM. The first blocks to be affected were the Lower East Side and Financial District, city parts which are close to the water. Now it has jumped over to all households and buildings below 40th Street (or, better to visualize, anything south of Times Square). The Bronx had some destructive winds rage up there in the North. And New Jersey, poor New Jersey is completely screwed over with its extensive flooding and curfew zones. While Hoboken lies right on the water, it was not the only town to be evacuated. Jersey City is also still fighting its rivers of overflowing water in the downtown area. All the smaller places close to the water are basically destroyed. The same is going on with Long Island, which looks similar to New Jersey picture-wise. Power is out in 90 percent of the households. Flooded apartments and houses. Within one night people have lost all of their hard-earned savings, belongings, and memories. It is very sad to see such heartbreaking news on TV.

For once I am truly glad that I live where I live. I am happy that I am not anywhere close to Manhattan and what is going on over there right now. All those celebrities who paid millions of dollars to live in the Meatpacking District and around Gramercy must be really frustrated with the lack of electricity they are experiencing together with the average struggling citizen of New York. Well, as rumor has it, the power is supposed to be out for another 4 days. ConEd is having a hard time catching up. Some parts will even be shut down for another week. How people will manage to survive through the dark – I have no idea.

Today I walked through Park Slope and met up with a friend from Crown Heights. Many more people were out on the roads, picking up their little remnants of the storm (I forgot it was a tradition to collect fallen twigs from the ground after a hurricane). We went past over-crowded bars. Businesses were opening up slowly. Brunch in our favorite but packed Irish pub in Fort Greene. Just another frustrating day after Sandy. Everyone was happy to be around people again. Cabin Fever, is what you call it. Staying inside and being bored for too long. It was refreshing to walk back to Prospect Park and look at the fallen trees throughout the Slope. One giant hit the ground and took a few cars with it … Ouch!

While the MTA had been up and running only one day after Irene hit, this year it will take at least another 3 to 4 days to get started, as Bloomberg announced in the morning news. Because of flooded tunnels and power being out in the entire subway system. I wonder what happened to the rats… As of now, we don’t have any further updates on this matter.

In case you didn’t know or forgot: The MTA is the thriving force that holds this city together. If not subways and trains are functioning, people are stuck. They cannot go anywhere or leave to anywhere. The busses have already started limited service this afternoon and are scheduled to pick up within the next few days. However, a subway ride that would have taken me 16 minutes from here to my work will now take me 1 and a half hours on two different busses which have yet to start service yet. All of this is a huge mess! Or as my friend puts it: “This is crazy!”
She is stuck without electricity in Westchester, a county above New York City. While they managed to get out of Jersey City in time, they have no power and no connection to the outside world (well, except for an occasional update via text message). Unfortunately, even if she manages to swim through the still closed and flooded Holland tunnel, the PATH will not run for another 7 to 10 days! That’s over a week without any public transportation means. This city relies on it so bad!

I have already started to feel some de-motivation when talking to friends and my roommates. No one I know has a car. No one here needs one (except for now, I suppose). So if the only means of transport is not running, what else is left to do? Work has required me to come in tomorrow. They will reimburse us for the cabs we will have to take. Of course the Empire State Building is possibly the only spot below 40th Street that has power. But my friends have also been asked to come in. Some won’t be reimbursed for the cabs they take so they are thinking about bussing it (2 hours back and forth equals 4 hours of wasted time a day). It’s basically a huge disaster but I guess it could be worse. Let’s hope it will be running this weekend again.

Oh, and airports? JFK is scheduled to open up tomorrow again. La Guardia and Newark will be closed but maybe this will change again soon. Things change so quickly the day after the hurricane.

This is possibly the worst New York has been hit. But its spirit is what makes this city out: Dwell on it for a minute and then move on. There is work to do!

Hurricane Sandy – Day 1: Still Before but Somehow in the Middle

Frankenstorm has finally arrived. I decided to walk around Park Slope at around 1 PM in the afternoon…. Luckily I did my laundry yesterday already, because, alas, the only laundromat close to my building was closed, of course! They decided to call it the quits yesterday around 6 PM. By that time, the MTA had made the decision to shut down and the bus system was scheduled to ride at 9 PM for the last time. No trains and busses for almost 24 hours. I suppose this is what New York feels like during just another one of their hurricanes… This time it actually is not as bad as the year before. I have a ton of bar and restaurant options to choose from.

So I walked up to 5th Ave, since the bars on 4th Ave were closed down and no bodega was open. However, 5th Ave rocks! 5 bars in my vicinity and all of them are defying the storm that is safely picking up to its predicted speed of 90 MPH.

Of course I picked Uncle Barry’s, which was a deserted place early in the afternoon. However, the bartender came up with the one and only justifiable drink during that day: The hurricane! Made of 4 types of rum and a pink juice topped with a sweet cherry. Looked girly, tasted sweet, and hours later I am still feeling its effects.

Rightfully earned Hurricane drink!

After this, I walked past the packed Alchemy, which offered Sunday brunch and great Bloody’s. Then the rain started to pour down, so I sprinted back home. Just in time for some breaking headlines on the news at that time (actually, they are still reporting about it): Construction crane collapses in midtown!
Supposedly a crane on top of a 95 million dollar real estate project had not been lowered in time and is still dangling over 57th street, threatening to hit passengers who shouldn’t be out on the street and taking pictures with their iPhones in the first place. So beware of the bad crane, it might hit you people walking underneath it on 57th Street and between 7th and 6th Avenue…

Seeing some wet pictures of Long Island and Long Branch Beach made me slightly uneasy. I felt sorry for the poor reporters who had to waddle through knee-high water just to get the real shots of the day… Long Island always seems to be the main target when it comes to flooding (sorry, Queens, you are always screwed!). This is why I decided to keep my millions to myself and stay safe and sound in North Brooklyn!

Other than this, friends seemed to be more bored than usual on the one and only other option to mingle – Facebook. I have the choice between answering my worried friends in Germany, who, after these dumb headlines from a German newspaper, are freaking out even more than I am. Not to mention the rest of America who is avidly praying for… us? We are okay, people, we are just fine!

My one friend has been baking cookies in the Upper West Side and invited her neighbors over for a party. My other friend is bored up in Dykman and keeping us updated about “rats climbing trees in Staten Island.” Those rats are wonder creatures! My cousin has been roasting a whole chicken and baking pies in Philly. I hope they are going to be okay, they don’t even have bars open to celebrate.

Wet streets in Park Slope

Other friends are just waiting it out in Crown Heights. I heard someone talk about wanting the subways to run again and return to work. Oh by the way, some jobs are even more incredible than mine: A friend was required to come into work because she lives “only” 20 blocks away (Manhattan). Others have been asked to do work from home. Excuse me? Possibly the power shutdown will prevent employers from coming up with more nonsense. ConEd has turned off the juice in Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn already. People received a lame voice message on their phones before they were left to the dark. Which is why I want to bring this post up before the real deal goes down and I cannot roast my own chicken anymore.

So here I am, about to cook up some dinner and watching more breaking news with the roomies. Sirens howling in the background, winds gushing past our window. The tree across the street swaying dangerously towards us and the small car parked beneath it… Hurricane Sandy, bring it on! Luckily the fridge still has some beer…

Again?! Hurricane Sandy Threatening to Destroy the Big Apple!

Once again New York is fighting one of its annual hurricanes bursting through the Tri-State-Area… Hold up! And I thought after living in Florida I would have been in the state the most threats when it came to hurricanes, floods, alligator bites…?! While when I was there, I had not witnessed even the tiniest storm in the sunshine state, New York is offering its second (!) hurricane sweeping past the city within just one year! Yes, one year!

I have no clue as to why all of a sudden I am preparing for a natural catastrophe on an annual basis. But sure enough, after the devastating Irene of last year’s August heat (read more here), we are now on the run to fight hurricane Sandy (whoever comes up with these names, I like Sandy a lot better than Irene). While Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it hit the City in 2011, Sandy is predicted to have gained in strength comparable to two storms. And on top of this it is rumored to have a diameter of 1040 miles, meaning it will reach far into the countryside. Once it is close to the Canadian border, experts believe it will mingle with the colder atmosphere to create a vicious mix of snow, ice, and wind…

Now if this does not sound like bad news, I don’t know what will. The fact that the news spread right when the weekend started certainly did not help in terms of New Yorkers believing in taking extra precaution. While a few coworkers had fantasized about an extra day off on Monday, we were all too absorbed in our daily routine to really think about what to do if it really were to happen.

But then it became more and more apparent in the news on Friday and Saturday that indeed New York is not likely to dodge this bullet. “I am buying tape to plaster up my windows,” my phobic friend announced at a pre-Halloween party on Friday. Both my other friend and I looked at each other, rolling our eyes at her expression of anxiety. “This is the closest I have ever lived to the shoreline, I am not taking any chances,” my friend went on, nervously chewing her nails and probably thinking about all the other precautions she could be taking.

The insane line of hurricane-panicked people waiting outside of Trader Joes in Brooklyn…

Then, on Saturday, the roomie got me hooked on bunkering a few necessities, such as water and food. As I made my way to Trader Joes, I could hardly believe my eyes: A line reaching over half of a block was forming in front of the huge store in Brooklyn. “Wow, three days before the actual occurrence, not bad!” I thought while I annoyedly stood in line waiting for my turn. Luckily, it only took 5 minutes. Apparently Trader Joes just wanted to make sure that not too many people were swarming around their store, so they made the customers wait outside until the inner capacity was well-balanced. And even better, there was still plenty of food, liquids, and what-nots for me to shove into my basket before I went off to the bodega. 2 gallons of water should be more than enough, I thought yesterday. Now, after hearing the reports worsening, I am actually not too sure anymore.

We will see how things go. Plenty of rain is predicted. Flooding is one of the big hazards, as in last year. High winds could leave substantial damage. Which is why Bloomberg called it a day when he shut down the MTA at 7 PM (which happens to be right now). The last train has left the station and whenever the danger is over, New Yorkers will be able to commute safely again. Or such is the original idea.

And what cannot be amiss during a once twice in a lifetime hurricane? Absolutely right, a hurricane party, of course! Bars around the corner started drawing their first Sandy-related ads onto the black boards until they decided to put the sign back inside due to the strong winds outside. Nonetheless, I got to shoot this fine picture at Alchemy, advertising for Dark and Stormies and Hot Bloody Mary’s. Perhaps I will have to drop by at some point in time today or tomorrow…

Alchemy’s fabulous sign during the hurricane!

Because, after all, no one in New York will be working for at least one day. Hopefully two. A wishful three, if worse comes to worse. But let’s be happy with a labor-free Monday! Unless you work in the hotel industry… That indeed will mean busy 36-hour shifts, I dare say.

Until then, I will once again keep you updated on how this storm will coin my life in New York! Cheers to Sandy! And Irene! And all the other hurricanes that decide to drop by in the beginning of the week here in the Big Apple!

[To ready more about Hurricane Irene go to:
Stories during the hurricane: Day 1
Stories during the hurricane: Day 2 ]