Last year, when Hurricane Irene came to the Northeast, New York went into a panic. People bought food they would never eat like canned mangoes and cherry pop tarts, taped their windows shut and filled their bathtubs with water. They were actually prepared. When Irene finally came around, the storm wasn’t anywhere as bad as they expected and places were open for brunch by noon the next day. So, when Sandy, the “Frankenstorm” (or whatever other monster-meets-weather title you want to call it), scheduled her visit to the Northeast, New Yorkers figured this would just be a day off from work and a reason to play hurricane drinking games.
Suddenly the city, with arguably the best cell towers in the country, had no working cell phones. New Yorkers who were used to getting wine delivered to their doors, manicures at 3AM and never walking more than two blocks to get coffee suddenly couldn’t find bread at grocery stores, hot water to take showers or even a cup of coffee. We figured we’d ask a few New Yorkers how they prepared for Sandy, how they were dealing with the aftermath and when they think all the chaos will all finally be over.
What did you do to prepare for the storm?
Danny, 21, student: We taped windows in our apartment, because we heard the winds would get bad and we’re pretty high up. During the hurricane, we went out to a few of our friends’ apartments to check on them and tape up their windows.
Tyler, 20, student: I put on my severe weather gear from ROTC and made sure to stock up on water with a few canteens and all the empty bottles we had in the apartment.
When do you think things will get back to normal?
Tyler: Probably in like a week from now once all the gas starts flowing in again. That seems to be the biggest problem, to me. All the boroughs are just running out of gas. The trains seem to be getting back to normal, but it seems like local transit with gas is the biggest problem.
How did you prepare for the hurricane?
Rayanne, 24, waitress: I didn’t know the hurricane was coming. I don’t have a TV and I just moved into my apartment, so I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t do anything to prepare. I didn’t have any water, I didn’t have any food, I didn’t even have a flashlight with batteries in it.
Did you lose power?
Yeah. I stayed in my house though, for the entire night. I didn’t know what was going on. I think I was more scared because I had no idea what was happening. My whole window came out of the pane and blew into my apartment and I didn’t know why. I sleep on an airbed, so I was afraid it was going to pop. I didn’t realise it wasn’t just a regular storm, so I tried to put the window back with tape.
How did you find out what was going on?
I heard a tree break down the block. I went out to see what it was and my neighbours were out there talking about the storm.
How were you guys affected by Sandy?
Harrison, 19, student: We live in the Bronx, so it was like the best of the boroughs and the highest situated. We didn’t lose power. A lot of my friends live in Brooklyn and I hadn’t heard from them in days because they didn’t have power, so that was really nerve wracking.
Dominic, 19, student: We haven’t had school all week, either, so that’s been pretty fun
Did you feel scared leading up to the storm?
Harrison: No, I mean, we were here for Irene and that didn’t turn out so bad, so we thought this would be the same thing.
Dominic: Yeah, it didn’t seem too bad. The university freaked out, though. Underclassmen weren’t allowed to leave their dorms for two days. There was even security at the entrances.
Mallory, 19, student: My house was flooded. Not much was damaged, but I live on Long Island, so it could have been worse. I was really worried for my friends and family – we all live in the area. The storm surge on Long Island was the worst in the city. I was emailing my family and panicking pretty consistently throughout the whole storm.
Dan, 21, musician: I was in Philadelphia last weekend for a memorial service that I had to go to. Then the hurricane hit, and I didn’t want to travel Sunday because I wasn’t sure when it would hit, then it hit and I got reports that Amtrak was shut down because Penn Station was still underwater.
Did you try any other ways to get back?
I tried to get a bus back and that was great. I was in the Greyhound station, and they say to us, “OK, if you’re on the 6 o' clock, you’re good to go back to New York, but if you’re on the 7:40PM or the 9PM, it’s cancelled.” And then at 5:50 PM, they say, “Oh, by the way, even though you all paid for your tickets, we’re cancelling that one too. Find some place to sleep tonight.” I’ve been sleeping on my brother’s couch for the past six nights.
Drew, 20, student: I got a call from my parents on Sunday, actually while I was joking with my friends about how dumb the hurricane would be, and they were like, “You’re going to be on this train, going upstate at this time and someone will be there to meet you.”
They just sprung that on you?
Yeah, they didn’t ask, it was just happening. We’re still mad at them, because then we got trapped upstate when the trains weren’t running. So they called us and were like “Be on the 1:44 PM going to Dover Plains!” so we got on the MTA. Parents.
Was that crazy?
It wasn’t. It was a Sunday and midafternoon, so there wasn’t any work traffic and it wasn’t like the last train going out. The train was pretty full, but there were still tickets available. So we got off, had some nice home-cooked meals at my aunt’s. I think we had security backup too, to help my aunt in case anything went down there. The power went out once or twice, not a big deal. We watched MASH for about six hours, and a lot of of “New York is flooding!” footage for about three days, flipping between channels seven, two, and four.
How was getting back?
Getting back was awful. I googled “Metro North” about every hour for the news alerts from like Monday on. We knew we had to wait until the trains were running and everything was cancelled through Wednesday, but even Wednesday night the trains were still not running. We ended up getting a car service from a guy named Tony.
How did you deal with Hurricane Sandy?
Emily, 22, PR: During the storm was fine. I’m lucky. My lights flickered a little bit and I lost internet for a while, that’s it. It’s been the aftermath of the storm that’s tough.
What happened after?
I haven’t been able to go into work – my building is right by that dangling crane, so no one has been coming in. I also have barely been able to hear from my roommate. She evacuated to New Jersey to be with her family before the storm hit and ended up being in one of the worst-hit areas. The last I heard from her, there was a power line that had been on fire for two hours outside her house and she was without heat when it was 34 degrees.
What has your experience in the storm been like?
Demetrius, works in pharmaceuticals: No shower. No heat. Freezing cold.
Where do you live?
I live in Greenwich Village.
Did you stay downtown the whole week?
Yeah, the whole week.
What have you been doing with no water or power?
Walking around, renting cars – we’re going to watch a movie now. It’s been so quiet with no one around. Scary at times over at Bleecker and Thompson, where I live. And it’s been cold. Cold is the best description.
Is the cold the worst thing about it?
Yeah, you can’t do anything about it. You can’t shower. You can’t wash your face. So the basic things are just tough – eating, going out. What are you going to eat? You can only have so much Spam.
When do you think things will return to normal?
Well, at 8AM today one reporter from Bloomberg said that it would be restored by the end of the day. But yesterday, Con Edison’s Twitter said it’s going to be 11PM on Saturday.
So when do you think it will happen?
Well it’s gravy if it comes tonight. If it’s not happening, it’s not happening. It’s just one more day without showering.
Sabeena, student, right: It’s been dark and cold.
Shiori, student, left: It’s been dark and oppressive.
So you lost all power and water?
Sabeena: We still have water – cold water.
What’s been the toughest part so far?
Sabeena: I’ve been really sick, so that’s been no fun. I’ve just been sleeping so it’s been good for that.
What are you doing for food?
Shiori: We stocked up well before the storm.
Sabeena: Yeah, we prepared pretty well. We went to Key Food, which is down the street and it was crazy packed. There were huge lines two days before the storm.
Shiori: It was like Trader Joe’s at Union Square. Key Food is never like that.
So when do you think things will get back to normal?
Shiori: Hopefully Monday.
Isaiah, shop owner: It’s been straight man. No worries, I live in Brooklyn so nothing happened. Didn’t lose power, didn’t flood – nothing like that – just a couple branches fell on the street.
Did you prepare at all?
Me, personally, at my apartment? No. At my store – I’m actually opening up a new store right now – the only thing is the power outage has been a situation.
What kind of store do you run?
A snowboard skate shop, and we’ve been without power since Sunday night.
When do expect things to get back to normal?
They keep saying everyday, “the next day”. It’s supposed to be this weekend, hopefully today. Really trying to hope for this weekend.
Do you think you’ll get any customers as soon as you open?
Yeah absolutely once power goes on. We have people walking down around here right now. So hopefully we’ll be open by Monday at the latest.
Jessica, student: It’s been interesting. I don’t know, here in the East Village I guess I can’t complain.
I mean power is so close. I still have water. It’s been worse in so many other areas. It’s a little uncomfortable, but we have the best of a bad situation I guess.
Did you prepare for the storm?
Not really. I got some canned soup and cereal. I didn’t expect for the power to be out till Saturday. Even when power went out Monday, I was hoping it would be on the next morning. It was definitely unexpected, but like I said, at least we still have water in my building.
What’s the worse part about it so far?
Just that it’s fucking cold. There’s no heat or hot water in my building. The gas still works so that’s good. Thank goodness for that. I’ve been able to have hot coffee and soup whenever.
When do you think things will return to normal?
Con Ed called and told me that the power should be on by Saturday night. And everything seems to be opening back up by next Monday. We’ll see how quickly things will pick back up.
Ashley, student, right: Well we go to FIT and we were in the dorms so we were kind of protected. It wasn’t bad on 31st street.
So you didn’t experience much of the actual storm?
Well we didn’t have any school all week.
So it’s actually been pretty nice for you.
Except that I really wanted to get a tattoo today. And the flood was on the East side, so everything is closed. So I’m just looking for another place to go to.
That’s your plan for today? Looking for a tattoo parlour?
When do you think things will return to normal?
Monday – school starts back up then.
Are you ready for that?
Yeah, I’ve been really bored. I have to do some studying this weekend. I’ve been procrastinating all week. Our midterms got pushed back because of the storm, but I haven’t been studying. No one is studying!
Previously - Why Are You Poshos So Furious About Wheely Bins?
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