Friday, November 02, 2012

Dispatches from New York Week 5: Frankenstorm

Maarten came home from his conference in Memphis on Friday night full of inspiration and business cards...always a good sign. The news was full of the impending storm and a caution to 'Be Prepared'. The good Girl Scout that I am (3rd generation!) I had trouble sleeping Friday night because my preparations weren't yet complete. I got up early on Saturday morning and went to the grocery store to stock up on Water, crackers, bread, and other random items that I felt were important (beer, wine, chocolate). I got back to the apartment and Maarten was up and ready to go. He wanted to take Fletcher to the Intrepid, an Aircraft Carrier, now a museum, docked Chelsea-side. The main attraction was the Space shuttle Enterprise, for which Maarten was especially keen for to see. They also had a pumpkin patch, which of course was a big hit with Fletcher

I finally had a few hours to I read a book, and slept a little. It was nice to have some quiet time. I am with Fletcher 24-7 and he doesn't nap and usually goes to bed a few minutes before we there is little down time. I really enjoyed it!

On Sunday we went to a Halloween party organized by the BoweryBabes, a group of moms who live in the Bowery neighborhood of New York. It was fun to see all the kids in their costumes, as well as the kids coveting other kids costumes.

Fletcher and another Fireman kept eyeing each other...and Fletcher was following a construction worker around.  There was sing a longs, and some activities, but it was much smaller than they had planned, since there were a lot of cancellations due to the impending approach of Sandy. My friend Kate, who had arranged the tickets for us, was also there with her daughter Scout, who was dressed as Peter Pan. Adorable!

After the party, Fletcher was exhausted, so he snoozed a little while we stocked up and Salami, Beer and chocolate for Sandy at Dean and Delucca, then headed to Dos Caminos for a Pre-Sandy cocktail...which turned into a leisurely dinner.

Monday October 29th

Monday was hurricane day. Sandy was expected to hit around 7 or 8pm on Monday night. Schools were closed, and Public Transportation had already shut down on Sunday. Maarten's office was closing at 2pm, so he also had a short day. I woke up in action mode and decided to continue my preparations by taking care of all electricity related tasks. I washed all the laundry, vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom and kitchen, ran the dishwasher, put extra air in Fletcher's air mattress. charged phones, ipads and computers and began cooking up all the meat in the fridge.

I made breaded chicken cutlets, and meatballs in tomato sauce, polenta with sausage and vegetable soup. Fletcher and I went out and picked up diapers, extra candles and made sure we had cash in case there was no more electricity. I was ready!

Maarten came home about 1pm on Monday afternoon. We spent most of the afternoon watching NY1, the local New York news channel, trying to keep up with Sandy and when she was coming to visit. The storm was expected to begin around 7pm, with the worst of it coming at 8pm. At about 8:30, ConEd, the local power company, pre-emptively shut down power below 31st street. That meant us.
Fletcher playing with the flashlight

With 12 million candles, 2 flashlights and several apple devices, we were fine.  Our apartment is set back a bit, surrounded by other buildings, so we had no street view. Once the power went off, we were left to occasionally check the news via our phones, our only source of information. We didn't hear much, except for an occasional gust of wind and all we could see were darkened buildings and flickers of candle light. Fletcher went to sleep around 9:30pm, so Maarten and I watched a movie, then went to sleep ourselves.

Tuesday October 30th

Tuesday, the Day after, came with still no power and now no cell phone coverage. We had breakfast, then decided to walk to the water and see what was going on.

It was raining lightly when we headed over to the Hudson River Park. We didn't see much damage on the way except for fallen tree branches and leaves everywhere.  The water level was quite high when we reached Hudson River park

The water was higher than normal, and quite choppy, but nothing, I imagine, like it was yesterday.

We walked down to Rockefeller park where Fletcher was able to run around in the only open Playground we've been able to find.
The leaf line is from the water level on Monday night

The financial district seemed fine- no water above ground, anyway. It was just deserted and with no power.

After checking out downtown we headed back to the apartment to have lunch (plenty of food!). We decided we would head up toward midtown where we heard there was fabled power and some restaurants were open! Just about a block from our apartment, people were gathered around a car that had it's car radio turned up so everyone could hear the latest news. No power and no cell phone coverage means no news!

So we walked, and walked, and walked up to 55th street (lots of blocks) and had a mid afternoon snack at a deli. The lights were on from 31st street. Not much was open, but it was funny to see people gathered around the doors of closed coffee shops to use the WiFi.

We walked up past times square (ALL the lights were on there) where it was quite busy. We saw a few firetrucks, which Fletcher loved. We also started to inquire about hotel availability (not a chance!). Before the storm I was pretty sure the power would go out, but I figured on Tuesday it would be back on. It was now looking like that wasn't going to be the case.

After finding no hotel rooms, and having my mom search for some too, we decided to go back to the apartment. It was now 18:00 on Tuesday. When we got back to the apartment, it was getting dark. Our building was dark and cold and it was quiet. We went upstairs, lit candles and sat for all of 5 minutes before I said I had to try and find a hotel room because I couldn't see us staying here with Fletcher without going crazy.

Since there was no cell phone reception I grabbed a flashlight (it was now dark) and walked about 6 blocks west, where I was able to call my mom who could help me search. After calling a few airport hotels, I found a room available next to the closed Laguardia Airport at the Hampton Inn. I found a taxi (also a challenge. There are plenty of cabs in mid and uptown, but very few in downtown), thanks to the doormen at the Trump Soho, and headed to our apartment, ran upstairs to grab my boys and some basic supplies, then headed out to Queens. It felt like we were escaping disaster, not a cold, powerless apartment and cold water!

The room was great. Spacious, comfortable, a big tv with lights that work and hot water!

Fletcher was happily playing with his firetrucks in minutes and we were finally catching up with the news and the devastation that Sandy caused. We went to sleep in a big warm comfortable bed.

Wednesday October 31st

On Wednesday morning it was becoming apparent that power would be out in downtown until at least Saturday. Since we had internet access I was desperately trying to book a hotel in Brooklyn. I booked one on and was happy I was able to get a room....until I decided to call the hotel to confirm the reservation and was told they had no power and weren't taking any new reservations. Great. I was scrambling to find a room the last 30 minutes before we checked out (the hotel we were in was already booked for Wednesday night) and had success with the Downtown Brooklyn hotel, just across the street from the Sheraton Hotel where my friend Kate and her daughter Scout were seeking refuge.

We headed back to SoHo to re-supply and throw away food from the fridge that was going to rot if we left it for a few days. Packed and ready to go, we were able to find a cab again at the Trump SoHo (thanks to the doorman) since every cab or limo I flagged drove away when I said Brooklyn.

The Downtown Brooklyn Hotel is a great location for the next few days. The room is a decent size (though much smaller than the one in Queens!) but very centrally located. Maarten found a Dutch bike shop in nearby Cobble Hill, Rolling Orange Bikes, so Maarten could rent a bike to ride in to get into Manhattan tomorrow for a meeting, since train service is very limited. Fletcher happened to be wearing his firemans jacket and hat and we noticed that a lot of the kids were trick or treating. We bought a bag and Presto! Fletcher started trick or treating for the first time!

Kate and Scout came by so we did a second round of Trick or Treating then had dinner at Moo Burger. Nice end to a nice night.

Thursday November 1st

Thursday, Day 3 without power in Lower Manhattan, was sunny and chilly.  Maarten left in the morning for his long bike trek to Upper Manhattan (72nd street East and West). Fletcher and I headed out to explore the area and didn't get very far since there was Gap outlet around the corner :). Fletcher now has some nice winter clothes.

Maarten made it back to Brooklyn about 6pm and we met him for dinner at Lobos, a Tex-Mex restaurant. According to the news, the power should be back on in Lower Manhattan (our neighborhood) on Saturday, so we will be staying put for the next couple of days.

Not as many photos as the last post, but I hope it gives you an idea of what we've been up to this week. We have been lucky, only losing power and water. It hasn't been easy- you have to think about everything- where do you get food, will you be able to get a taxi? Do you have enough cash, since the ATM's aren't working? How do you keep Fletcher occupied and warm? What's going on? There's no cell phone service in our area, no electricity and we don't have a radio (I don't usually travel with one..)

We were able to go to a hotel, A lot of people on Long Island, Rockaway and New Jersey haven't been as lucky. It's been devastating for them.

For us, it's been an adventure. Not one I am anxious to repeat...but an experience none-the-less. More importantly, we are safe, warm and well fed, charging our devices and watching the news on TV. 

No comments: