I’ve never been big on camping and Sandy has only made things worse. While I am getting used to wearing a miner’s light and I love pine scented candles, I do miss running water, and it is a little eerie walking along pitch black corridors and 12 flights of equally black stairs to get to the bottom of our almost deserted apartment building. From our windows we can see the illustrious and still illuminated Chrysler Building, but between here & there is all darkness. Seems like this camping ground is not a popular spot.
On Monday night after Sandy hurled her way through town setting new records for Halloween and havoc, she also divided Manhattan distinctly into uptown and downtown. Downtown is south of East 39th street, which apart from Wall Street and the odd self generated hotel or hospital, has no power. No traffic lights, no running water, no landlines. Uptown is almost like Sandy didn’t even swing by – except for the crane hanging off the side of a ridiculously tall new apartment building on 58th street. The traffic is crazy and the restaurants packed…
On Tuesday morning we crossed the line and headed for the Hyatt on 42nd street to charge our phones. Modern camping essentials. We were the first but within an hour a great wave of refugees surged into the hotel. Until then things were quite merry. A wifi system called ‘Sandy’ had been set up in the lobby to enable a free link to news and the rest of the world. The breakfast bar was buzzing with sympathetic managers who had bunked in the hotel overnight to ensure – at minimum, a morning coffee of sorts. But with people piling around the power points and cords stretched in all directions, it was suddenly time to leave. A wall of suits assembled across the front door and only those with hotel keys could pass. A new line was drawn.
Tuesday afternoon Sean carried our bikes down 12 flights of stairs so we could ride over to the west side where police blockades had prevented access only 24 hours before. The Hudson was still restless churning as though to rise again, with television crews still bearing witness, and debris piled where wind and water had finished with it. Strangely, in the midst of all the mayhem on a freshly washed garden bed, ( now about 20 feet above sea level ), a host of delicate Spring Crocus’ blossomed in the breeze.
Back on the demarcation line, Sean and I had plenty of supplies, but the game changer was water. By Wednesday morning our building’s tank was dry and residents started leaving in droves. Last night there were only 20 of us left, and the temperature was dipping 9*C. The initiative of a nearby building by installing a generator the moment the power went out meant they were beaming with water and warmth. And, fortunately for us, generosity. Their Super allowed us to fill all the bottles and buckets we could carry and we made the most of it. Of course carrying them up 12 flights of stairs was the cardio workout one always feels proud of after the event. Ah water, the new gold!
The sun is shining this morning and a little more buzz is returning to the city. Sean and I plan to ride uptown to hunt and gather ingredients for Christmas cake. We usually put the fruit on brandy around Thanksgiving and each make a wish as we stir the pot. This year we are starting early as there is much to be thankful for and many wishes to be made.