How Would You Cope With Sandy? Part Two

November 20th, 2012

Yesterday, I described my preparedness plan (or lack thereof) as Hurricane Sandy approached.

Today, I’ll share a little of what it was like to be in the storm and its aftermath.  First, let me say unequivocally that my experience was absolutely nothing compared to what the people in Staten Island, Breezy Point, and Long Island went through.  Many are still suffering terribly.  The worst parts of the storm for me occurred during the actual storm itself.

On the day of the storm, I decided to see the storm firsthand and was on the corner across from Carnegie Hall when scaffolding from a large crane being used to construct a high rise building fell just in front of me.  A family evidently visiting from abroad stood next to me and as this happened, they all began screaming and running.  I don’t have to wonder.  That’s the closest I’ve ever come to death.

I don’t know if it was shock or an adrenaline rush, but I immediately went into the Red Eye Café and told everyone there what just happened to me.  What I didn’t know is that the reason the scaffolding came flying towards me was because the crane attached to a building under construction had actually snapped in the strong wind. Once I was inside the restaurant, I looked up at it and could see this enormous crane swinging from a cable up in the air.

I ordered a glass of red wine and just observed everything going on around me.  While I was sipping my wine, I could hear a buzz among all the other patrons of the restaurant.  Some people were clearly terrified, some couldn’t seem to care less, and some were actually ticked off that the whole thing was interrupting their dining experience. The restaurant tried to keep operating through all the commotion going on outside and took the step of moving one couple away from the window as if they were the only ones at risk if the cable snapped and the whole crane came crashing through the building.

I just sat and drank my wine and watched as firemen and police blocked off the area and evacuated people from the street.  Other people in the restaurant were also watching. In a strange way, it was like we were some sort of spectators to the whole thing and not actual participants.

Eventually, we heard a bullhorn alerting us that we needed to leave the building and clear the area because there was a genuine fear that the crane was going to break and fall, most likely destroying everyone and everything in its path. I don’t know why, but I actually took my time, had another glass of wine and then headed back outside into the hurricane.

For the days that followed, I was like many New Yorkers living in Midtown and on the northern half of Manhattan.  There were lots of inconveniences but nothing like what the people in Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, and Long Island were going through.  For them, it was pure Hell.  There were no lights which meant no heat, and it got very cold not long after the storm struck.  Many people had their homes either completely destroyed or flooded.  Days went by without help from anyone.

Elected officials did a lot of patting themselves and each other on the backs for the awesome job they thought they were doing, but most of the residents living through the nightmare would tell a completely different story.

With these many days passed, it’s interesting to consider the choices everyone made with respect to the storm.  Many people were warned to evacuate, and they did.  Others were warned but chose to stay and ride out the storm.  Some say they regret that decision and a few lost their lives because of it.  I chose to stay because I wanted to see what a hurricane would be like.  Would I do it again?  Yes!

With Thanksgiving this week, I realize how fortunate I am.  I could have easily been another Sandy statistic if I’d been walking a little faster when that scaffolding flew by.  I’m also very blessed that I have shelter, food, heat, and clothing.  I’m not forced to sleep in the darkness and cold tonight in order to protect the possessions I have from looters.

I would encourage everyone this Thanksgiving to take the time to help the victims of Sandy.  If you’re in the New York area, there are local charities you can assist to help.  If you live elsewhere, there are other aid organizations you can give to.

This Thanksgiving, it’s absolutely the right thing to do.