Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy hits

3pm:
There has actually been some rain. And some wind. Not a big deal, but not nice weather to be walking around in. On TV, some of the reporters a half mile away on the coast seemed to be experiencing quite a bit of rain.

4pm:
Stronger winds now. Some sirens every now and again. The storm has sped up and may hit land (not at NYC, but south of NYC) around 6pm instead of 8pm. At 7pm all the tunnels and bridges out of NYC will be closed. But Manhattan seems like it won't be as badly hit as other parts of NYC. All the media is focusing on a crane that has broken 60 or more floors up and could collapse causing some buildings to be evacuated. The local power company has said it might cut of power voluntarily and it might affect us.

5pm:
Other parts of the East coast have snow or a few places are underwater. NYC seems to be fine so far, but we'll know more about 8pm here. The waters are rising and the reporters were talking with someone jet skiing on the waters. To be honest they didn't look too dangerous yet. Not much rain and wind still comes and goes because we're somewhat sheltered a half mile inland amongst the buildings. The tide is coming in and should be at high tide by 8.30 when they're expecting the water to be a meter deep across lower Manhattan. Matt and Lucy return from the hospital (where they work).

7pm:
Not too eventful in NYC; but other parts of the US are suffering. Atlantic City has several inches of water across the city. There are other parts of NYC with water surges and water has flooded some roads, including the FDR only a couple of miles away from me. Water has now flooded over onto the land at the southern tip of Manhattan too.

8pm:
We're expecting the power to go down soon as a precautionary measure so are eating dinner whilst watching the weather channel online.

9pm:
Power goes down. T-Mobile's phone network goes down but there is some spotty access on Verizon and AT&T every now and again. We light a couple of candles, watch a movie on laptop power and go to sleep.

4.30am:
Rachel (one of the friends I am staying with) returns from hospital (all 3 of the friends I am staying with are doctors). She reported the reason we lost power was that the local power transformer had blown up hence we had lost power. She had been at Tisch hospital when the backup generator went down and they had to evacuate all the patients. It meant trying to carry people down 15 flights of stairs. There were up to 20 babies at risk. They were trying to make calls and find somewhere to put them, but it was not easy. No lights, no power. It was chaos at the hospital.

7am:
Wake up, still no power. Use the gas to boil some water for team and porridge. Heat a croissant over the gas flame, trying to avoid it catching on fire. Success. Have a shower by candle light. Our water is still fine.


8.30am:

Leave the house on a hunt for power to get some work done and maybe some wi-fi. Heard it is necessary to go up town. There is a light breeze and light drizzle that comes and goes. We live on 2nd street, which is about 30 blocks from the tip of Manhattan. I head north, walking along the coast to survey the damage. There was flooding all along the coast, up to a metre or two high,  that swept things up. Some small trees and branches had collapsed under the wind but nothing too serious.


I walk past the power transformer, now with a lot of trucks from the power company outside, hopefully trying to fix the problem. By the coast the wind is a bit stronger but manageable. I wonder past the hospitals where my friends were all working, trying to imagine what it was like last night. All the traffic lights are still down along with all the power. I continue north and see traffic light on in the distance. It's on 40th street. I'd walked 38 blocks; so on top of the 30 or so further south of where we live about 68 streets north to south had no electricity (and west to east extends about 15-20 blocks at its widest). It's a lot of people without power.

10.30am:
I find a starbucks that is closed but has wi-fi on. Quickly check the news and emails outside. Arrive at Grand Hyatt hotel and manage to get in and grab a seat and power socket in the lobby.  A bunch of other people are here doing the same thing, but they're not letting anyone else in.  There is a rumor it will take 5 days before the power is back up. Type up everything you read here from 8pm onwards.

The power being down is a pain and means a lot of people can't do any work -- the subway is still down of course, as is the stock exchange (which is on wall st, near the tip of Manhattan and surely without power and probably close to the flooding).

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