Hurricane Sandy, The Day After: Escape From (Southern) New York
Although Hurricane Sandy did not, as some meteorologists and media folks predicted, cause the earth to split asunder and drown us all in magma, it did put a pretty big hurt on New York City and the rest of the Northeast. In Gotham, the toll was massive: Flooding all over lower Manhattan, millions without power, trees ripped out from the ground and deposited on cars. Oh, and all the Starbucks were closed. It may not have been as bad as Andrew or Wilma, but it was destruction to rival Miami's worst storms.
Despite the mass ruination, New Yorkers did not immediately resort to cannibalism -- not even those now located in the dark zone south of 34th Street. For most of the borough, life was back to normal. Restaurants were full, tourists were gawking at the giant billboards in Times Square, and joggers had reclaimed the streets. Even in the blacked out parts of the city, things were calm, aside from the occasional blare of sirens and the momentarily frightening adjustment to streets without traffic lights. Once again determined to get a glimpse of the city -- and still stranded and unable to get home to Miami -- I took to the streets to document life after Sandy.
In northern Manhattan, most of the danger came from falling trees. In midtown Manhattan, that danger was slightly higher thanks to a crane that had been broken by winds and now dangled precariously over the streets.
Further downtown, some kind soul took it upon themselves to save some Village Voice dispensers, among others, from the storm inside a bank.
Most of Manhattan had power. But once you got south of 34th Street, things got dark in a hurry. Block after block had gone black, and the only light came from the fast receding skyscrapers further north.
Soon enough, the only light came from passing cars.
At 14th Street and 8th Avenue, an apartment building lost its facade to the rain and wind. The scene outside was rubble on the ground, passerby taking photos, and at least four different TV networks doing stand-ups.
The subways were shut down Sunday night, which left stations empty and dark. At 14th Street and 6th Avenue, the turnstiles helpfully informed me that there was no way in.
From Union Square on 14th Street, the only light came from the distant Empire State Building.
Some folks got by just fine without power. This enterprising fellow in Union Square was selling flashlights on the street, and snagged a gaggle of college-aged girls who suddenly found themselves fretting over the darkness.
A bit further down the road, some firefighters took a break to grab some steak sandwiches at a food truck.
Power company officials have said that it'll likely be another three or four days before the lights come back on in southern Manhattan. The subways will likely be out of service for longer. Until then, the city will continue to clean up and go about its business -- even in the dark.
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