Reflections on Sandy

Its been a crazy few days since I first evacuated my apartment on Sunday afternoon. Long story short, I’m ok, everyone I know is ok, and my apartment is ok. I’m now fully rested and have had some time to collect my thoughts.

Here is a rough breakdown of the past few days with some storm anecdotes/photos/videos woven throughout:

I listened to Bloomberg’s 11am press conference, and wasn’t really surprised to hear that Zone A was evacuated. My apartment is in Zone A, and like when I was evacuated during Irene, I relocated to my friend Zach’s in Chelsea. We were expecting a few other folks to weather the storm at the apartment with us, so Zach and I trekked out to stock up on food before the rest of our friends arrived.

The lines just to get in many supermarkets were in some cases half an hour long (especially at Trader Joe’s)! We were luckily able to walk right into Whole Foods, but faced a line inside:

I was surprised at how stocked the store was (I think we got there on the earlier side). But, the checkout line wrapped around the entire store. However, we spotted a secret lone register at the coffee specialty section that was checking out folks. A 10 minute wait later, we were out the door — had we not found that secret line, our wait would have been upwards of an hour to get out of the store!

We spent the rest of the day just hanging out at Zach’s, there were 9 of us total.


Most things in the city were closed on Monday, including my office. I spent the day working remote from Zach’s. We were closely following reports of the storm and started to understand how intense this storm would be. All of us were taken aback by the statment from the Weather Channel’s Senior Meteorologist, Stu Ostro:

History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States. … This is an extraordinary situation, and I am not prone to hyperbole.

As it got dark, the winds started to pick up, but there was surprisingly little rain. We made several trips onto the roof, which is 15 stories up and has a direct, unobstructed view of lower Manhattan. We heard reports of the storm surge rising and were fully prepared for ConEd to cut power to most of Manhattan.

We were on the roof a bit after 8 and I started seeing some very strange blue and green flashes up in the clouds. We first thought it was lightning, but then came to the realization that they were transformers blowing up. Shortly thereafter, we watched all of lower Manhattan below 14th street lose power as if someone turned off a light switch. In the true sense of the word, it was awesome. Its was something right out of a movie.

A few minutes later, we saw a giant blue light flash and immediately thereafter all the power from 14th through 36th street (including our power) cut off. This, we later learned, was the ConEd plant being flooded and then exploding on 14th and D — the plant is about 5 blocks from my apartment in Alphabet city, and my bedroom looks over at it.

Here is a video from across the river in Williamsburg of the transformers getting knocked out:

And here are some images and video of the streets flooded right around my apartment in Alphabet City:

Back at our Chelsea hurricane bunker, we continued going to the roof throughout the night and the city progressively got darker as additional outages and generator systems failed. By 10pm the Freedom Tower was completely dark and only one or two buildings had power below 36th street, it was incredibly eerie:

The weather also seemed worse at this point, with the rain and the wind much more intense than before.

Back inside, we had no power, internet, or water — but we did have cooking gas. We had the foresight to fill bathtubs with water to flush the toilets, and had an ample stock of drinking water. So, we made the best of our situation by having dinner by candlelight:

Any playing some Catan:

We kept ourselves abreast of the situation via Twitter and phones. That is, until about 11:30pm, when cell service (at least for AT&T) went out. After that point, we found ourselves huddled around a battery powered radio trying to get a sense for the true scope of the damage. At one point WABC said that they might go dark as their equipment was in danger of being flooded, that was a scary moment!


We ventured out on Tuesday to survey the damage around Chelsea. Cell service in the area south of 36th (where there was no power) was very difficult to come by.

The rumors we heard on Monday night about the Hudson flooding as far east as 10th Avenue seemed true. We saw many storefronts with evidence that there was standing water in them. The entrance to the 2U offices, where I work, did not fare very well. The first floor entrance looked like it had had several feet of standing water and the glass door was smashed, likely from a piece of floating debris. We have still not gotten access to the office itself, but since its on the 2nd floor, we’re all presuming its intact.

We walked around Chelsea and saw the building where the facade came off, here is a photo taken on Monday night:

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Looked fairly similar in the morning, you could see right into people’s bedrooms.

By the afternoon, we all left to go our separate ways — most folks went back to Brooklyn, where there was power. I carried by bike down the 11 flights of stairs and biked north to my grandmother’s apt who lives uptown. On the way, I saw the infamous crane on 57th street, which is still teetering:

In the meantime, I spoke with one of my roommates who was at the apartment after the storm. Our apartment is 100% fine, but there is a lot of damage to the street below which saw several feet of water. Many cars are destroyed, and the basements of many stores are filled to the brim with water.


I’m still at my grandmothers in the UES now and am planning to remain until lower Manhattan gets power back. At this point, we’re assuming we’re not going to have power until at my apartment until the weekend, but am gonna hunker down here until then!

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who checked in on me and offered assistance the past few days. It really means a lot!

NYPD, FDNY and Building Department raid on the Sunburnt Cow [photo]

NYPD, FDNY and building department raid on the Sunburnt Cow

There was a large raid last night on the Sunburnt Cow. Around midnight, about 30 FDNY, NYPD and Building Department personnel stormed into the bar,turned on the lights and off the music. They were there for about 30 minutes and were examining everything from the menus, to the liquor license, to actual bottles of alcohol. They did not ask patrons to leave, yet most left on their own volition as their drinks ran empty. The bartenders were also made to pour out all the mixers.