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August 29, 2011 at 05:46 PM

After the Storm

Hurricane Irene, New York City

We spent the better part of last week getting ready for Hurricane Irene. By now you probably know that Manhattan was largely unaffected. There was some minor flooding and downed trees, but for the most part it was rainy, windy and not much else. Unfortunately, those to the south and to the north weren't so lucky. Damage has been widespread, and flooding across upstate New York, New Jersey and New England has been extensive.

Because a hurricane in New York is so unprecedented, we took extraordinary precautions preparing for this storm. We had a week's worth of food, bottled water, four flashlights (two of which could be recharged by hand), a hand-powered cell phone charger and a 'go' bag packed just in case. We moved our furniture away from the windows, ensured the weather seals were tight and filled the bathtub with water in the event of a power outage (in a high-rise building, pumps carry water to tanks on the roof, then gravity brings the water to your sink. If the power goes out, this water is diverted to the sprinkler system for safety, and the residents go without).

Looking east around 4PM on Sunday (click to enlarge)

We thought about leaving, but the forecast was improving and with the transit closures expected, it would have been days before we could have gotten back into the City. In hindsight, the conditions were much safer in New York than surrounding areas, and we don't know yet the status of Jessica's parents' house about 45 minutes up the Hudson.

Once we were prepared by Friday night, the worse part was the waiting. With the transit system shut down (the first time ever), all the businesses in New York were shuttered for the weekend. The McDonald's up the street, the Starbucks next door and every business within 10 blocks was closed. The streets were deserted, and it was eerily calm.

We live on the 27th floor of an apartment building the looks right into another building across the street. I don't recall seeing so many people at home, on a Saturday night, looking out their windows. The fear-mongering on the local TV was not helpful, so we watched a few movies, worked on the giant jigsaw puzzle and opened a bottle of wine. In hindsight, not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.

Because it was such a slow-moving storm, the forecasted arrival kept getting pushed back; Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday at dawn. By 1AM on Sunday, we went to bed determined to get up every few hours and check on conditions. Truth be told, we slept the whole night and didn't awake until around 10AM on Sunday. By then, the storm had passed and only gusty, rainy conditions remained. Fast-moving clouds zipped by all day, and by Sunday evening the sun started to come out.

The Empire State Building once the rain letup around 3:30PM (click to enlarge)

We're very fortunate the storm didn't turn out as badly as it had been predicted. The City was very well prepared, and the mayor had to make some tough calls shutting down the subway, evacuating low-lying areas and keeping ahead of the cleanup.

Today the sun was shining, there was no wind and the high just topped 72 degrees. Ironic that the most beautiful day of the year follows on the heels of one of the years' scariest.


Related posts:
Suki prepares for Hurricane Irene
Photo of the Day: Before the Storm



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