Today I was planning on sharing photos of the beautiful children I met in Cuba, instead Sandy happened. Yesterday before the storm hit I took a stroll outside to see the city I love so much, before destruction would hit her.
The largest photo in the picture is a Hurricane Shelter/ Evacuation Centre. It is estimated that over 6000 people are in 76 evacuation centres throughout New York City, many will be spending multiple nights.
Around 9pm last night, as I was casually editing photos and letting ‘North by North West’ run in the background the power flickered on and off. Even though we hoped for the best, at 9:30pm, with the rest of Lower Manhattan, our lives went offline. Prior to the Sandy “lock down” on Monday I hit the shops to prepare ourselves with the essentials for a lockdown; wine, beer, ice-cream, ramen, Pringles, toilet paper, and water. Different priorities to most, but at least I am aware of it. With the power out I realise that I had neglected to think about how I would get light without electricity. I didn’t buy extra candles. Novice. It’s not like I haven’t been in a storm before, I grew up in Brisbane where there were frequent blackouts during my childhood. That’s where nonchalance will have you come undone.
Hysteria and panic, on the other hand, could bring me to do something irrational, what I would do I’ll leave up to your imagination. We have a guest staying with us from out of town, let’s call her Sparrow. She arrived on Saturday for a week and from the moment she walked in our door she bombarded us with questions about Sandy, as if we had secret knowledge about the hurricane. Not once has Sparrow actually left the apartment to do anything remotely touristy, which was very possible up until late Sunday evening. On Sunday morning I was on my way to the metro when I received a panicked phone call from her. “Where are you? When will you be back? When will the other housemates be back? Why is no one home?” She was crying for us like a 5-year-old cries for their parents when they go out on a date. Except we are not her parents, and she is a grown woman in her early thirties.
Except for a brief walk outside in the evening, the majority of my Monday was spent inside. Sparrow’s hysterics were out of control and everyone was exasperated at that point. While we were all peacefully watching TV or reading she would interrupt and nag on and on about how she was watching the news online and it is going to be very windy, it might rain, and the power might go out. What on earth was she expecting us to do, tell Sandy to not make our power go out? Needless to say when the power did go out, she freaked. When we lit candles (thankfully we had a few) she warned us to be careful, “they might start a fire“. That is just as important as reminding people when they eat that they might choke, I always forget about the dangers in eating. We all called it a night and left her to panic on her own.
I have always been able to sleep through anything; so last night’s sleep was great, 12 hours solid. I woke up to what sounded like a party going on in the living room; people were talking very loud and fast. I went out to check and found Sparrow had accosted a random stranger from the stairwell. Turns out the stranger, Scott, was making his way uptown to a hotel where he could book in and have electricity, when Sparrow heard him in the stair well and dragged him into our apartment. I found him sitting on our sofa like a child in detention. He just looked at me with bewilderment in his eyes “what on earth is going on?!” Sparrow continued to run around the living room like a chook with its head cut off. Eventually like all children in detention, he asked me “can I go now?” Sparrow had plans of escape and was not letting him go without her, so she hurriedly finished packing up her bags and followed him out. The last thing he said to me was “I feel like I am in the Steve Carell movie ‘Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World’, only I know I can do better than her!”
Why do some people go into panic mode when there is a chance of something slightly bad happening? It seems to me, that the people who panic tend to be the least resourceful. Sparrow had bought no food, water or supplies for the disaster she had so intensely researched. Nor had she taken a moment to look outside and see how badly we were actually affected. Up until late last night and again early this morning there were shops open right down stairs from us, and it was safe enough to walk around town. Instead she was remembering what she saw online, the other states who were being destroyed by Sandy.
The resilience of New Yorkers is heart warming. My housemates and I walked uptown today in search of power and cell phone reception, there were hundreds of people out on the streets. Some shops were opening or fixing up damage, a small street cart was using a generator to run, the only one I saw in lower Manhattan. Not even Sandy was stopping some tourists, resorting to paper maps in guidebooks with the lack of cell network. My absolute favourite was seeing people running, that is real dedication and self-discipline. New Yorkers are plugging their devices into any outlet to get a charge, in Duane Reade there were 6 devices being charged from one power point.
I have registered on two different websites to volunteer with the clean up.
Research #sandyvolunteer for more information via Twitter
If you are in any of the affected areas and have the time or resources to volunteer, I strongly encourage you to do so. If you aren’t in an area to help, but still want to, visit www.redcross.org or call 800-Red-Cross.
I am keeping everyone affected by the Sandy in my thoughts and prayers. Stay safe and keep smiling.