The morning of Monday, October 29 dawned cloudy and a little windy in New York City, which came as a surprise to the eight million or so inhabitants who had expected God himself to be pissing on the city at the break of dawn.
The national media had been breathlessly predicting the End of Days for the East Coast. The culprit: Hurricane Sandy, the most destructive storm named after a Grease character since Hurricane Kenickie slammed into Rydell High School and ruined the senior prom. The city was told to expect everything: 100-mile-per-hour winds, two feet of rain, blood to replace the East River. Accordingly, the city's airports canceled virtually every flight out from Sunday night straight through Tuesday, leaving tens of thousands of travelers stranded. That included your intrepid weather correspondent, in town originally for the weekend but now stuck here for almost the entire week. Guess what, Miami? This storm was not f*%#ng around.
The irony of leaving Miami -- Mother Nature's long preferred dumping grounds for hellacious wind and rain storms -- for New York, only to get stuck in a hurricane here, was not lost on me. But I was determined to experience a hurricane, be it in South Florida or the Northeast, so I foolishly ventured into the storm to see, first-hand, whether Sandy had anything to offer -- or whether, as Riptide suggested yesterday, we were all overreacting just a tad.
Appropriately enough, the Miami Deli on the corner of St. Nicholas and 128th Street in Harlem stayed open through the hurricane. So did the Florida Deli right down the street.
The New York Post and New York Daily News went with the simple approach to the storm.
Meanwhile, on the streets of Harlem, nothing was safe from the winds of Sandy, not even our sister publication, the Village Voice.
As expected, CVS was short of the most essential of supplies.
Is this a warning to future civilizations after ours is wiped out by hurricanes? This bizarre sign is definitely the "Croatoan" of 2012 New York.
The trek from the west side of Manhattan to the East River got more difficult with each passing avenue. The wind was easily hitting 40 to 50 miles per hour on the river, and the light drizzle had turned into a persistent downpour.
Down in Times Square, meanwhile, those playing Hurricane Bingo could cross off "Weather reporter doing a stand-up in a New York landmark area devoid of people." Other popular squares: "Graveyard of broken umbrellas," "Person out jogging despite insane weather," and "Poorly edited Instagram photos of branches."
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That said, Times Square was eerily empty. Early on, Sandy did have a zombie apocalypse vibe going.
By the early evening, the storm was beginning its assault. Though midtown Manhattan and points further north escaped severe damage, the southern part of the island was crushed with flooding, power outages, and downed trees.
I ran back for cover as the worst of the cane blew in -- and yes, it really did blow. The numbers this morning are staggering: two million without power, good chunks of Manhattan and Red Hook completely underwater, six whole blocks of the Rockaways burning out of control and at least three deaths.