Little to do but hole up in your apartment as storm passes


Some of us made the best of it – with beer, DVDs and a few friends, writes INES NOVACICin New York

AT ABOUT 9pm on Monday night, the whole room shook for the first time.

“Whoa, did you feel that?” my boyfriend asked, hitting pause on the first of many films we set aside to watch during New York’s Superstorm attack. I am not going to lie, I was mildly horrified and panicked that glass would shatter, I would be cut, and rain and wind would consume the flat.

Our windows were taped but through the big “Xs” I could still see cars driving past, and – I thought I was going crazy – but yes, the deli across the street that’s always open, every day, 24 hours a day, was still open. A recent customer stood smoking at the deli doorstep, as a steady stream of others lined up to purchase sandwiches, soda cans, and, of course, alcohol.

For most of my friends, alongside the potential havoc Sandy presented, hurricane parties were definitely a talking point.

Mayor Bloomberg had announced over the weekend that the city would be on lockdown on Monday, and possibly Tuesday, in preparation for Frankenstorm. One friend in particular comes to mind, who, after finding out he did not have to go into the office Monday, proceeded to purchase a crate of beer on Sunday morning in honour of the occasion.

Others celebrated in similar fashion: Sunday night parties, all-day wine drinking on Monday, and snuggled-up boozy movie marathons on Monday night.

“I mean, public transport’s down, you’re stranded in your apartment – especially if you live alone – why not get friends together and have some fun?” is how one girlfriend put it.

Luckily, everyone I know survived okay and, for some, the worst thing they woke up to on Tuesday morning was a bad hangover – one of my roommates included.

I stayed up long enough to witness the storm pass through New York and move on. I’d gone outside at about midnight to document neighbourhood happenings, and one man pointed me in the direction of the water, a few blocks west of my home. “It’s all flooded there!” he smiled. This morning, neighbourhood flooding was luckily limited to that waterfront.

Our flat woke up to streets boasting business-as-usual for the most part: people out to brunch, dogs being walked, babies in strollers, couples slurping coffee in to-go cups to warm themselves up.

It’s still a bit wet and windy, and noticeably colder, but everything looks fine.

My friends across the river in downtown Manhattan haven’t been so lucky. One girl has been Instagraming photos of flooded streets with cars randomly strewn across it, pulled along by the water’s power.

I’m annoyed and extremely worried about one friend who lives on the 32nd floor of a building overlooking the East River. He had decided not to evacuate based on how last year’s Hurricane Irene turned out. He has yet to return my calls of concern.

But lines have been really bad throughout the day, so I haven’t been able to reach most people in badly affected areas, apart from brief Facebook comments. I know the Rockaways in south Brooklyn is bad. A reporter friend who works for NY1, the city’s main local news station, told me she couldn’t even get close to it in the small hours of yesterday morning. Queens is also very bad – namely Breezy Point, where dozens of homes were affected by a large fire that broke out after a transformer exploded there.

Yes, I am lucky, sitting indoors eating soup in my PJs, experiencing what feels like a regular, rainy Irish day, as Bloomberg’s press conference plays in the background: “perhaps the worst storm the region has ever seen”, “60,000 people without power”, “ devastating winds”, and “10 dead in New York City and we expect the number to rise as information gets in . . .”