Let’s just start this post by saying that I am on day 3 without electricity. I just wanted to give you an idea of my mental state. In all honesty, I’m so grateful that my apartment and my neighborhood did not suffer much damage as a result of the hurricane because I know it could have been so much worse. Other than losing power at around 8:30 pm on Monday, we haven’t had to suffer too much. That said, this storm has taught me a lot about New York City, New Yorkers, and how both fair in the face of natural (or non-natural) disasters. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- New Yorkers are resilient but not resourceful – When I was younger living in Arlington, VA, I can remember how we’d often lose power as a result of a powerful storm. That said, I do not recall the sense of TOTAL CHAOS that is currently going on in New York City as a result of not having electricity. All day yesterday people in my neighborhood wandered around looking at their cell phones, at each other, and then back at their cell phones with a dazed expression on their face. The thought of not having cell service or not being able to go to their local bodega was a completely foreign concept. I don’t remember this giant sense of confusion when our power went out as a child, but no one seems to know what to do here to occupy themselves. Boredom is a not an emotional state New Yorkers are accustomed to.
- We need to GO GO GO – Most of us have been able to make it to work today on foot but yesterday many New Yorkers were trapped in their homes because no subway lines were working and even more unsettling, no traffic lights were in service (downtown). I found this very disturbing as I tried to go on a walk around my neighborhood and had to dodge cars that literally refused to stop for pedestrians since they technically didn’t have to. Additionally, my experience has been that none of my friends can seem to settle down and just relax at home! Everyone is PISSED that they can’t go somewhere, anywhere, even though no one else can. There’s this giant sense of feeling like we are missing something as a result of our immobility but the fact is, we’re all in the same boat.
- New Yorkers can’t function without their routine – My apartment tends to be the keeper of random kitchen appliances and about a week before the storm I happened to find a french press. I wasn’t exactly sure how to use it, but I figured it would come in handy sooner or later. Cue EVERY bodega closing within a 2 mile radius of my house. When I left my apartment this morning, no less than three people asked me where I got coffee and I slightly feared for my life when I told them I made it at home. My roommate has an even better story of one bodega, operating by candlelight on Tuesday, that had a line out the door of folks waiting for coffee while one man brewed individual cups. I get it guys, you’re not changing your coffee routine even in the face of natural disaster.
- If real sh*t happens, we are trapped – This statement applies to my fellow Manhattanites as this actually happened for 24 hours or so. After 7pm on Monday night, all subways were shut down, buses stopped running, and all tunnels, airports and bridges were closed. We were physically trapped on a cement island, Batman-style. I tried not to think about it too long because I think I almost had a panic attack.
- When all is said and done we look out for each other – It’s easy to look at the fights over cabs and the cutting in line at the bus stop as crazy New Yorkers being crazy New Yorkers but let’s be honest, this is a situation most of us hadn’t really considered ever happening. Any acts of wild behavior I chalk up to being so far off our regular routines that we are just acting as pod people. When I think of New York and something terrible happening, I know that we come together to take care of each other in the hopes that everything returns to normal soon. I think this picture says it all.
I took pictures of my hood after the storm on Tuesday. It wasn’t too bad, but the damage was definitely more than I expected. Take a look: