My Sandy. A Year Later.

A year ago this evening, I was with my family playing a board game at our apartment at the corner of East 8th and C. We had been mentally and physically prepping for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall. Irene had hit us the year before and we basically came through unscathed, so expectations for Sandy were low. How naïve were we until one of us got up off the floor to look out the window. Avenue C was underwater and getting deeper. We walked downstairs to get a closer look and this was the scene.sandy_avenue_cAs the water crept up the sides of the parked cars, the cacophony of car alarms was astounding and then slowly, they faded under the water and then ceased entirely. It was dead quiet, but eerily lit by the emergency lights on top of the police precinct across the street. I stood on our stoop with my wife and daughter in complete disbelief that Mother Nature was in the middle of dealing such a devastating blow so peacefully. The family went to bed around midnight, when we were sure the water was on its way out. I stayed up as late as I could to make sure our building wasn’t going to float away, burn down…or both.sandy_avenue_c_8th_streetThe next morning, we woke up to a cold and quiet house. Thankfully, one of our neighbors was kind enough to share an extension cord hooked up to a small generator with enough juice to keep the fridge moderately cool and our phones charged. The first order of business for the day would be to procure gasoline. We were in Mad Max mode. We got on our bikes and headed north. What we saw was devastating. Cars turned and toppled upside-down and inside-out. Splintered and scattered lumber and trees piled high onto the Jersey wall and into the FDR. Homeowners, business owners, people on the street standing in utter disbelief.sandy_trees_down_nypdIt was too cold for the bikes and still a little damp, so we parked them in Midtown and got a car service. We had to go all the way to 117th and First to wait in line for a gallon of gas. I ended up paying a guy $20 for the privilege of cutting in, so we could start our long journey home. The traffic was awful and we were hungry. After an hour or so, we found ourselves sitting in traffic on 49th Street in front of Wollensky’s Grill. Perfect. We paid our driver and went in. Here we are in Midtown… a beat to shit Carhart, a ratty little blond, a gorgeous yet un-showered mane of red and a gallon of gas. A sight to these faces who didn’t seem to realize that half of their city was under water just 12 hours before. Precious. The food was terrible, but it did the trick and so began our routine for the next couple of weeks with no gas to cook or heat our hot water.sandy_roof_cookingWake up. Walk around. Talk to neighbors. Help where you can. Bike somewhere uptown and ignorant. Meal. Grocery store. Back home. Build a fire. Spaghetti, hot dogs, burgers. A warm reposado. Bed.sandy_trash_bagsThe two weeks that began one year ago today were rough ones. We saw friends leave, business struggle and nerves fray. But during those two weeks, I was once again shown what it is to be a New Yorker. To participate as a New Yorker. To trust as a New Yorker. In my twenty years here, I have witnessed several events that should have taken this town down. That should have killed the spirit of its motley porridge of beings who choose to call this place home. But the events never win. The people do.

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