Nov 2, 2012

Hurrican Sandy

Hello everyone,

The preliminaries: Nick and I went to Iowa over Labor Day weekend, and brought back several vintage/thrifted  items which have since been put to use around our house.  We also enjoyed visiting with everyone, of course.  Since then, we've been trying to juggle teaching/coursework/work, and the months have apparently gotten away from me.  But only a little bit.

Most of you have checked in on me over the past several days.  I can't tell you how much this means to me, particularly since we were so fortunate to have been spared from nearly all of Hurricane Sandy's wrath.  Since we live in central Brooklyn, we missed the floods and fires, and unlike our last apartment, where Nick and I literally had to take turns bailing out our bedroom each hour during Hurricane Irene, our current building is incredibly well-built and successfully withstood the high wind speeds.  Here are some of the precautions that we took to ensure a 'successful' hurrication:

1. Grocery shopping: Since we have the space, I keep a very well-stocked pantry, full of canned and dry goods.  I did my grocery shopping on Saturday, stocking up on some perishable items, paper towels, and trash bags.  Not only is there wisdom in stocking up on food before a hurricane, by doing so a day earlier than everyone else, I successfully avoided the crazed hordes, long checkout lines, and bare shelves that were par for the course on Sunday.

2. Cooking: I made Aunt Deb's pumpkin chocolate chip loaf recipe on Sunday, except I did muffins instead of a traditional loaf.  We also enjoyed Fesenjan stew (shown above) Sunday night, and a barley, lentil, and chicken stew Monday.  We've since been eating off of the leftovers--delicious!

3. Household preparations: We happened to have a lifetime supply of AA batteries, some flashlights/touch lights, and more tea lights than I want to discuss as a result of the last Halloween party we threw a few years ago.  We also took the precaution of bringing our air conditioners indoors Monday morning, as well as our window box.

A gigantic downed tree near Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn College

Some missing sign letters on Nostrand Ave.

The aftermath: I took some photographs of my neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.  As you can see, there is actually very little damage--some downed trees/limbs is really the extent of what happened in my neighborhood.  NYC public schools and CUNY all cancelled classes this week (most CUNY schools actually resumed Nov. 2, though several professors cancelled class anyway as a result of the transit situation).  Brooklyn College suffered very little damage, but a couple of CUNY campuses are still underwater and/or are serving as shelters.  Bus service resumed in Brooklyn and parts of Queens Tuesday evening, and very limited train service resumed Thursday morning.  Since lower Manhattan is still without power, and many of the subway tunnels between Brooklyn and Manhattan are still flooded, subway service ends in downtown Brooklyn and resumes at 57th St. in Manhattan.  To get between these two points, you can either take a shuttle bus or walk.  The sheer length of lines for the shuttles has made the news.  The lower picture shows how the line was supposed to work (empty at midday), and how it was literally wrapped around the stadium twice because there were so many people waiting for the shuttles during morning rush hour:

Randomly, our own neighborhood had a blackout for a few hours Tuesday evening.  We're so lucky that it didn't last longer, but it was a bit stressful while it lasted.

Although grocery stores have been able to restock their shelves, since the bridges have been reopened and delivery trucks can get in and out, gas stations have not fared as well.  Many are without power, and some are simply out of gas as a result of the ports being closed until today.  We live around the corner from a gas station, and have been watching the blocks-long line of cars since Tuesday evening slowly inch its way along.  After several fights broke out, the NYPD put several officers there to keep the peace, thought that has not lessened the lines or the honking of horns.   As I was walking home from a couple of errands yesterday, I saw that there was also a separate line of people with plastic gas cans.  I initially assumed that this was a shortcut to avoid waiting in the car line, but then I realized that the generators that people are using until electricity is restored are powered by gas.

I've also heard from several of my students.  Many of them seem to have come through completely unscathed, but one girl who emailed me yesterday literally lost all of her possessions in the storm.  The more pictures I see of the damage in the affected areas, and the more stories I hear from friends and students who were evacuated or were otherwise affected, the more grateful I am for how fortunate we have been.