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.
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.
Now, the day after the storm, it’s heartening to see the Harlem community already springing into action. Nurses are arriving to visit their patients, people have taken to the street to clear the debris, and neighbors gather round chatting and making plans for this evening. Tonight many friends and family members of those in our building wil makel their way to our “safe house” for a hot meal and shower.
The worst may have passed us here in Manhattan but it will takes months to recover from Monday night’s storm.
MOLLY MULDOON - Astoria, Queens
On Sunday evening, the streets of Astoria were still busy with people stocking up on supplies. The lines in the supermarket were out the door and there was not one loaf of bread left on the shelves of Key Food at 6pm. The true force of Sandy was still 24 hours away.
At 6am Monday, I woke up expecting to hear the wind rattling the windows, but everything was calm and eerie outside. The lack of noise from the above ground subway, which is one block away, was unsettling.
The winds began to gather speed on Monday afternoon. The view from my bedroom window in our third floor apartment looks across at the Citi building in Long Island City, which dominates the Queens skyline.
In the morning we all crowded into my room to listen to Mayor Bloomberg’s press conference on what we could expect.
Two of the guys ventured out for supplies. To no one's surprise, the grocery and liquour stores were busy with shoppers stocking up.
By early evening the intensity of the storm was building. The rain started to beat off the windows and the lights kept flickering. My roommate filled the bathtub with water, to prepare for an outage.
At around 9pm, three of us sat on my roommates bed watching Sandy attack the streets below. The streets were deserted and trees were being tossed by the wind. The awning on the restaurant next door was in tatters. At one stage, the five of us ventured down to the street to poke our heads out the door. The wind was gathering strength, but still some people were hanging around the Dunkin Donuts on the corner. Defiant, our local pub across the street remained open all night. A smoker stood outside before a strong gust of wind sent him scurrying back into the calm of the pub.
Luckily, back inside, our power held out. We all sat there with our laptops and smart phones sharing videos and pictures of Sandy’s destruction.
Despite being close to the East River, Astoria seemed to escape the brunt of the hurricane that areas in Manhattan suffered. Many trees were uprooted and some residents are still without power.
Right now we are all just sitting it out. Many of us are working remotely. We feel very lucky as we’ve been sitting around eating, drinking and staying warm. “What should we eat next?” has become the motto of the past 48 hours. Every afternoon one the crew brews fresh hot cider andthe oven has gotten more action in the past two days than it’s seen all year.
While we may be trapped in Astoria for now, I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather be.
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