Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sandy: One Year Later

I listened with half my brain as Bill Evans, the dapper ABC 7 weatherman, talked about a hurricane that had just made landfall in Jamaica and seemed to be charting a course for the northeastern coast of the United States.

The other half of my brain was focused on my living room as I organized its contents and wondered how many boxes we would need to pack it all up for our impending move to suburbia that was scheduled to take place in five days. Totally overwhelmed, the only answer I could come up with was, a lot.

I tuned back into the TV in time to hear that the hurricane was a category 1 storm and that New York City was concerned. Unimpressed, I hit the button for my DVR and turned on a Gilmore Girls episode to provide a more entertaining accompaniment to my chores. Having once lived in Florida, a category 1 storm was not something that worried me.

Show me a category 5, I thought, and then I'll get excited.

I had time for packing, moving and worrying about the construction in my new house. I absolutely did not have time for mass hysteria over a hurricane that would probably turn out to be nothing.

So I spent the next few days ignoring the news reports on how bad the storm was predicted to be, choosing instead to focus on saying goodbye to my favorite places in Manhattan and bemoaning the fact that I would be without TV and internet for a few days since we were transferring our cable from the apartment to the new house a few days before the actual move.

When New York Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency I turned a blind eye. When the people of the Upper West Side took to Fairway and Trader Joe's and emptied the shelves in a panicked frenzy, I refused to join in. Not only did I not want to stand in line to get into the stores, I absolutely did not want to have food left over that I would have to move.

When my move was postponed 5 days and then Mayor Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of parts of the city and the shuttering of the entire transit system, I decided I was pretty lucky to be able to stay in my own apartment, and was grateful for the extra time to pack.

And when the managing partner of my law firm announced that the office would be closed Monday and Tuesday, I celebrated like a 10 year old on a snow day.

On Monday we gathered our snacks, queued up some movies, and I even went for a run along a closed - but very windy - Central Park. As the day wore on with barely a raindrop in site, I started to feel pretty superior for not getting caught up in the hype.

But when darkness fell over New York, and the water started to rise, I realized it wasn't at all as bad as everyone thought it would be.

It was so very much worse.


30 comments:

  1. got me in that line good.
    that was insane. i was just remembering walking with my kids on halloween, stepping over power lines and under fallen trees, even though our town had officially canceled. we had nothing to do anyway... can't believe it was a year ago

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    1. It really was insane. I mostly just try not to think about that week, but today I can't help it.

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  2. Oh, it was so much worse. The media hypes up so much that I imagine it was easy to dismiss it as just another storm.

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    1. It is, but this was so much worse than anyone could ever have imagined.

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  3. Having made it through Ike down here, I feel your pain! And the next time the weatherman says it's headed for us, I'm not taking any chances and getting the heck out of town! Still have nightmares about that hurricane...

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  4. I can't believe it's been a year already. Sometimes it seems like yesterday and other times years ago. But I remember all your stories ( and everyone else's) as a real window to life at that time in the east. We don't experience that stuff (just corrupt government). I got chill with your last line...

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    1. I can't believe it's been a year either. It's crazy because on the one hand it feels like 2 minutes ago, but on the other, my life is so much different now than it was the day that Sandy hit.

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  5. I still can't believe it all happened and that it's been a year. Today I sit in my dry, warm house enjoying electricity and running water and I think how I will never again take it all for granted. And I think of those who are still living through it waiting to rebuild. I pray it never happens again. But if it does, I hope next time we have a generator. ;)

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    1. Yep, figuring out what to do for a generator was our first order of business when we moved into the new house, right after the storm.

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  6. As a native Floridian, I've paid attention to hurricanes all my life. I can't imagine dealing with the fallout in a big city. I just can't. Watching the news coverage was surreal. Great last line.

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  7. I've experienced weather related things before, but have never been through anything as daunting as what you had to go through. Hopefully never will.

    What doesn't kill us......?

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    1. Sandy was really scary, and I was one of the lucky ones. Up on the Upper West Side we didn't lose power and we didn't get flooded, but I have so many friends and relatives who did, and my new neighborhood, where we moved a few days after the storm, didn't have power for 2 weeks.

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  8. I liked the nonchalant tone of this piece. I've never experienced a hurricane, and I don't want to.

    Do you miss Manhattan?

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    1. I do miss it, although not quite as much as I did when we first moved. I still commute to Manhattan every day for work, so that had taken some of the sting out of not living there anymore.

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  9. I was more inland, so didn't get hit QUITE as hard, but it was still super scary . . . alone in my home with 2 kids and a husband in another country, rain and wind blowing and hitting so hard that I had a waterfall coming down the inside of my foyer from the leaks in the big window above the door, lights blinking and flashing their threat to go off, trees crashing into neighborhood homes. We were extremely lucky we didn't get the worst of it, but that night was one of the most apprehensive and frightening that I remember in my home. You guys up north really got walloped. I can just imagine the horrors of what you went through. A whole year. Wow.

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    1. We sure did. I can't believe it was a year ago.

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  10. My husband and I were in New York two weeks before the hurricane hit, for my best friend's wedding. She got back from her honeymoon the day before the hurricane hit Manhattan. She and her friends/family were safe on the Upper West Side, but I was worried. Some of the places we had stood two weeks earlier were completely underwater. So glad you were okay, and what a well-written reminder.

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    1. I was pretty safe on the Upper West too, but my friends in Hoboken and my cousins in the East Village didn't come out nearly as unscathed.

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  11. A year ago, can't believe that! Glad you were okay and this is some powerful writing.

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  12. Damn -- that last line = perfect. Brilliantly told -- very gripping. Thanks for providing us with this well-written perspective. This post gave me more insight than any news I have watched on the year after.

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    1. Thank you so much. I will never, ever forget those days, as much as I would really like to.

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  13. Damn -- that last line = perfect. Brilliantly told -- very gripping. Thanks for providing us with this well-written perspective. This post gave me more insight than any news I have watched on the year after.

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  14. I was in our cottage in Maine on the coast when it hit. I have never seen glass doors bend, but they did. We lost power to our office in Cambridge and I was the IT Director. I hate to hear the name Sandy anymore. Great read, Sam!

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    1. I can sympathize with what you went through as IT director. My husband owns a VOIP company in NYC, and all of his servers are housed at data centers in lower Manhattan. When the water came in the basements of all of those buildings were completely flooded and the backup generators failed because they couldn't get diesel to the roof to power the generators. It was an awful week for him, and definitely a time we hate looking back on.

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  15. Living in central new york, I get a blase attitude about the snow forecasts, so I can appreciate your GilmreGirls choice... but the snow? Obviously that is nowhere near the devastation of the hurricane. Such a well crafted recounting.

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  16. Sam - I love how you've crafted this, creeping toward the inevitable horrible ending.

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    1. Thank you so much. I wish the ending were a little happier...

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  17. I live e where we get days w/o electricity, Christmases eating canned goods without electricity, water pipes frozen. 60 mph sustained winds, 6 feet of snow... but in a small rural town it is somehow easier. Throw in millions of people and I cannot imagine!

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