Santicipation. The wind is howling. The windows are whistling. Sirens blaring. The sky is grey. Whitecaps dance on the Hudson, the water is blowing toward the harbor at this point. Streets are deserted except for the Yellow cabs and the occasional walker. I did not sleep well.
Sandy still taunts us here on the east coast three years after the now infamous storm roared ashore. Each and every single day.
For many here, life is divided into two parts: Before Sandy and After Sandy.
The calm before the storm on the West Side of Manhattan: the wind has kicked up considerably, the temp has dropped, there’s a mist in the air and people are scurrying home with shopping bags full of groceries. I’m out for the last of my supplies now.
Here’s how I was feeling the night before, after I’d gone to the Food Emporium to find empty shelves and long lines:
West side of Manhattan is a Ghost town. Presumably because everybody’s inside preparing french toast. Seriously. No bread. No milk. No eggs. That’s gotta be it, right? Oh yeah, and it’s gotten colder and the wind is starting to howl here a bit, but as I gaze at the mighty Hudson outside my window…it’s still quite calm on the water.
Some of us have minor inconvenience — like we have to use the “old” South Ferry station for the 1 train to catch the Staten Island Ferry. The train that never makes it to the station on time and we constantly and consistently miss the boat by one minute after sprinting from the train through the ferry terminal only to have the glass doors closed in our face. The “new” South Ferry station had opened in 2009. But Sandy’s salty flood waters drowned it and ongoing repairs are likely to take another year or more. That’s minor. Especially when you consider people mourn the people they lost because of Sandy.
Others have lost their homes or are dealing with structural and mold problems on the homes and businesses that were saved. Some are still dealing with their insurance companies or FEMA.
In some areas, Sandy brought us new life, like on Rockaway Beach, where new businesses have replaced the old and there’s a feeling of renewal.
I look back on that scary night three years ago with a certain sense of awe. I was working at CBS, and like covering any big story, there was a feeling of excitement in our newsroom. But we didn’t really have time to take it all in — as what often happens while huge news stories unfold. Instead we dug in and worked the details of the story while we were in the cross hairs of it.
10:08pm: I am glad I am working and don’t have too much time to THINK about what’s facing us other than to react and do my job. If I weren’t I think I’d be freaking out about now.
We watched what seemed like unbelievable pictures pour into our newsroom. The Battery Tunnel submerged. People walking through waist-high water. Boats banging into each other. Fires. It was surreal.
Facebook reminded me this morning of how I was feeling on October 29, 2012. I posted there as I worked to get the story out while tamping down the rising personal fear I was feeling:
5:21pm: Letterman sends audience home, tapes show anyway with Denzel Washington.
5:21pm: AMTRAK suspends all service along NorthEast corridor for Tuesday.
5:35pm: OK. now it’s official: NYC’s Parker Meridien hotel being evacuated due to impending possible danger caused by snapped crane on W. 57th St.
5:51pm: ConEd will shut off power in lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn over next several hours. Several NYC bridges will close. Mayor urges everyone to stay inside. Use stairs, not elevators. Stay away from windows.
5:55pm: NYC subway/buses remain out of service through tomorrow morning…so far. Could change depending on storm surge and whether it affects subways. Worst is still yet to come to NYC.
7:08pm: 4 story apartment building collapses in Chelsea section of Manhattan (14th St. at 8th Ave)
7:43pm: Parts of Manhattan losing power. We just had a short outage/surge here. The building “thumped.”
8:07pm: Hiya Sandy:
…Post-tropical cyclone Sandy makes landfall along the coast of southern New Jersey…Summary of 800 PM EDT…0000 UTC…information———————————————-
location…39.4n 74.5w – about 5 mi…10 km SW of Atlantic City New Jersey – about 40 mi…65 km NE of Cape May New Jersey -maximum sustained winds…80 mph..
9:17pm: Water is gushing into lower Manhattan. Serious water. Battery tunnel is flooded.
9:33pm: 5 deaths in NYC attributed to Sandy.
9:44pm: RT @miller_stephen: Andrea Bernstein on @WNYC: Bowling Green 4/5 subway tunnel under 4 feet of water. Others TBD. Cops yelling on megaphones to folks on LES to get back inside to their apartments.
10pm: Queens Midtown tunnel flooded. Mayor asking all cabs and livery drivers to get off the roads.
10:07pm: More than 600,000 without power on Long Island. Mayor Bloomberg urging people to not call 911 unless it’s a real emergency. 5 confirmed deaths in NY state due to Sandy. And the water keeps pouring in.
11:09pm: It’s getting closer. All Nassau County roads (on Long Island) closed per County Executive. Water rushing down 25th street. It’s getting closer.
Done with work for tonight – Now I have to stop and think about reality…so I am heading back “out” into it. Hoping I can find a cab. Hoping I have electricity. Hoping I can sleep in my own bed. I hear there’s lots of water in my neighborhood. If it’s flooded or the power is out, I’m back at work to sleep here, hoping that’s just not the case. It’s been one heck of a day here in New York City. This is a story we’ll be covering for weeks and months to come. Thanks everybody for your kind words. They help. It’s been a scary, busy day.
Clicking my heels three times. Toto greeted me at the door. The lights are on. The elevators are out (ha ha hauled it all up 18 floors, but that’s no big deal considering what others are dealing with). Home to my own bed. Yay. Best of luck to my coworkers doing the hard work in the field Alan Suhonen Randall Pinkston Jane Chick Susan McGinnis Maria Ines Ferre Frank LoBuono Ken Kerbs Stephen Kanicka Phil Doyle Duarte Geraldino Vinita Nair … you guys are our heroes! Stay safe.
Power is out beginning only 9 blocks to my south…so I’m grateful. Mayor Bloomberg says NYC’s 911 was getting 10,000 calls per every half hour earlier tonight. Wow. The worst – the rainy, blowy part – is over. Now the cleanup begins and we have at least one more dangerous high tide to go. It’ll be interesting to see just how bad this all was in the light of day tomorrow.
Of course, we all know what we discovered in the light of that next day. Devastation in many places. Breezy Point was on fire. People were missing. Water was everywhere. And life as we knew it was changed forever. I like to think Sandy helped me become better prepared in the face of disaster. I’m honestly not sure I am.
Three years ago today Sandy roared into our lives to remind us we’re not in charge.