Hurricane Sandy -- IrishCentral staffers share their storm stories - PHOTOS



PHOTOS - Hurricane Sandy hits New York - Super storm causes destruction and flooding - slideshow


In the wake of the worst storm in New York in recent history, the IrishCentral staff give eyewitness accounts of their experience of Superstorm Sandy and how their areas have been affected.

PATRICIA HARTY in East Side Manhattan, evacuation area 

I love being in New York when there's an emergency, if only to see the way New Yorkers react.

While the mayor was on TV saying that 370,000 people were under evacuation orders -- there was no sign of panic as people went about their usual business -- there were even people out jogging.

That was Sunday.

I live in Manhattan -- Zone A -- and I was under mandatory evacuation orders, but I decided to stay as did several of my pals, including my buddy Irene whose 91-year old mother is visiting.  

Sunday night passed easily enough although every now and then a gust of wind hit the living rooms windows -- all three face the East River -- that had me jumping out of my chair, but still I felt comfortable with my decision to stay.  I had evacuated last year and Hurricane Irene turned out to be a non-event.

Early on Monday morning the river washed over the retaining wall at high tide but receded again, and I received a recorded message from building management saying that they would be turning off the elevators, electricity, and water. The hot water had already been turned off. My friend Rosemary who was initially going to stay, departed for her sister's place away from the river.  But I stubbornly, perhaps foolishly, decided to stay on.

The electricity went off at 6 p.m. Monday evening and I felt my first real stab of fear. The water had been steadily rising throughout the afternoon and by the time the lights went out it was completely over the wall so that my apartment building seems to be standing in the river.  

"The water is up to the top steps of the plaza -- the FDR Drive is completely flooded so that the dividing line between north and south is gone," my friend Irene, whose view faced south, reported, adding, "and the 'surge' hasn't happened yet."

By now the wind was howling with a high pitched whistle, and I started to worry about the building's foundations and the fact that the apartment complex is built on landfill. But even as I choked down the panic, I remembered that this particular landfill is wartime rubble brought back by cargo ships from Bristol, England. My mother, who lived in London during the blitz would surely say, were she still around, that the best thing to do is "keep calm and carry on."

The words are from a poster issued by the British government at the start of WWII but surely they are an apt slogan for New Yorkers. And I am proud to call myself a New Yorker.

I Woman up. I tell myself that I'm relatively safe, that the building is hardly likely to collapse, and that if the windows do blow out or in, I can take refuge in one of the stairwells. I'm almost happy as I settle down for the night with an Anita Sheve novel on my ipad. Alas, the heroine of my novel is trapped in a snow storm in Maine, which is not at all comforting. In the end I stuff my ears with plugs to drown out the worst of the wind's whistle, and mercifully, I sleep.  

I wake and the river is calm. The water has receded. I venture out and I see New Yorkers are going about their business. No power south of 39th Street -- Con Edison has lost a transformer. No traffic lights and plenty of traffic. The scary part is getting across the street. No buses and trains. I see one overturned motorbike, a car buried in debris, but mostly the city looks same as it ever was.

As I get close to Fifth Avenue, I see my first light. It's red and it's blinking.

I was never so happy in all my life to see a traffic light.  

PHOTOS - Hurricane Sandy hits New York - Super storm causes destruction and flooding - slideshow

KATE HICKEY - Harlem, Upper West Side, Manhattan

As the destruction, damage, and loss of life is being assessed and New York City gets back on its feet, we, in our cozy apartment, cannot help but feel incredibly lucky, and a little guilty.

Superstorm Sandy hammered the northeast coast. So far 16 people have lost their lives to the storm, millions are without power, homes have been destroyed by fire and flooding and many lives have been devastated.

Watching the scenes unfold last night on TV and via Twitter was shocking – water flooded the Battery Park City tunnel, trees fell on homes, killing innocent people, and people looked on as their homes and businesses were destroyed.