Who among us has not been checking in with family and friends as Sandy tears through the Eastern Seaboard? Here is one dispatch from a friend, who lives in a high rise in Brooklyn:
"Sandy, the fireworks were hailin' over Little Eden tonight... "
I'm not sure of Eden, but one of the more startling events witnessed last night occurred when I was looking north out of our 25th floor apartment on the waterfront, and saw a flash of blue light up the night sky, somewhere north of the Williamsburg Bridge. Then, rapidly, two or three increasingly larger and more frightening blue blasts of lightning, seemingly coming from the ground. It had to be the 14th Street Con Ed substation, located just off the East River. The sky was illuminated—odd shades of blue, the last blast looking ominously like a nuclear cloud, but unlike the nuclear facility just 30 miles up the Hudson, (smart thinking on that one, eh?) thankfully there was no chance of a Japan-like meltdown occurring within the city limits last night.
Then presto, 99 percent of the Manhattan we could view from our windows was dark. Several of the landmarks and taller buildings like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building appeared to switch to a generator immediately, but most of the city was eerily silent and dark. Ironically, although the lights of Broadway had gone dark, we could see our poorer neighbors (culturally, of course) across the Hudson, still lit up.
The East River surge on the Brooklyn side, while not nearly as intense as its left bank, caused flooding over the first couple of blocks off the shore. Thankfully, it stopped a block short of our building, but when I waded outside, I saw that water was waist high on the buildings bordering the water. Emergency vehicles patrolled the empty streets, their urgent red lights solitary beacons in an otherwise darkened landscape. Across the river, the water looked like the Mighty Columbia on a bad day, literally rushing city streets, its power piling up cars in some instances. Over here, not so much, more like the Deschutes. Powerful, potentially very dangerous, but in the end, just an exciting white water trip with no lasting damage.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg barked at NYers to make sure to stay home, don't go out, stay safe. Hard to reconcile that with his admonition to city workers that if they did not go to work, and be faithful loyal puppies, he would dock them a day's pay. Perhaps he thinks everyone has a driver, as they had shut down all public transportation Sunday evening.
Probably the scariest sight was that of 80 homes on fire out in Breezy Point, aka "The Irish Riviera," a tiny spit of beach on the Western end of the Rockaways, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Fire personnel had to stand by helplessly as the hydrants were covered by water, and besides, there was no power. My boss has a home out there, and I know many coworkers who own little bungalows—not second homes—out there. The sight of people losing their houses brought home the overwhelming tragedy this storm has wrought.
So trees down everywhere, all the major highways, all bridges, and tunnels closed, we're cut off from the rest of the world. NYC! Unthinkable. Maybe we should say the rest of the world is cut off from us...
We're not going to come back so quickly, just can't see it. School already called off for tomorrow, making three days off, and there is just no way the subways are going to be and running anytime soon It will be interesting to see how the NY Marathon(scheduled for this weekend) people scramble the next few days, considering there are trees down in every neighborhood in the city.
My family, we were lucky. All home and safe, kept our power, a good thing as they are saying power may not come back for days, maybe a week. We have a full refrigerator of food, plenty of water—all the stores are still closed, no trucks coming in to replenish the supplies. The only negative we had to deal with was nausea from our building swaying back and forth—our dining room hanging lamp was whipping back and forth like an oil lamp on an old seafaring vessel.
Nope, we were lucky, Sandy. The boardwalk may be sinking into the dark Atlantic, but we're safe.