Editor’s note: Former Daily Texan Life&Arts editor Amber Genuske is living and working in New York as an associate video editor at The Huffington Post. The following is her experience with Hurricane Sandy.
NEW YORK — The city that never sleeps is finally sleeping. New York City was forced down for a slumber, and nobody knows when it will wake. The city was slipped a sleeping pill with side effects far greater than anyone could have ever expected. The pill’s name was Sandy, and oh my, was it a hard pill to swallow.
Sandy the Superstorm barreled into the East Coast early Monday evening, wreaking havoc well into Tuesday morning. The storm’s 900-mile-wide reach flooded homes, tore down trees and took the lives of 62 people and counting in at least 16 states. New Yorkers watched in horror as the murky water rose up the sides of the buildings and overflowed out of the depths of the subways. Neighborhood by neighborhood, parts of the city went dark in each borough. As night fell, we were unsure of what this storm had in store. When we arose Tuesday morning, it was worse than we could have predicted.
This city has slowed, and in some areas come to a screeching halt. I got lucky — oddly lucky. I live in Park Slope, a neighborhood in Brooklyn barely grazed by the storm, and somehow our lights kept burning. A few trees fell, but thanks to the geography of my neighborhood — I literally live on a slope — there was minimal flooding.
Tuesday night I made my way up to my unfinished roof from which I can see parts of Manhattan. Downtown Manhattan looks more like the quiet borough that lies to the southeast behind my back than the noisy island I usually see when I look northwest. The sky above Midtown and north still dances with the orange tie-dye haze from the bustling city beneath it. The sky above 39th Street and south is eerily dark. South of 39th Street, 400,000 people are still without power.
I haven’t been in Manhattan since Friday. Save for a bike ride through the carnage in Brooklyn yesterday, I haven’t been out of Park Slope since Sunday. I’ve been working from home since Monday. For those who rely solely on the subways for transit — they are stuck. For those whose sole source of income comes from another borough, or worse yet, lower Manhattan — they are stuck, indefinitely.
Even as someone who prides herself on being removed from the hustle of the city, I am getting a little stir crazy. Never have I wanted to rub shoulders with hundreds of strangers so much. Never have I wanted to dip down into the piss- and stench-filled subways so much. Never have I wanted to be in Manhattan and out of Brooklyn so much.
And these are all trivial wishes, because I got out lucky.
So what does this mean for a city that thrives off of the energy, stress and hustle of the people who run it? When those people are stranded, so is New York.
But it will take these exact people, who care about the city most, to wake it up. Metropolitan Transit Authority workers are busting their chops around the clock to get the city moving again. Consolidated Edison Inc is picking up the pieces of flooded electricity cables and fallen power lines to get the city powered again. Those whose homes were spared are helping those who lost theirs by volunteering or turning their couches into shelters.
Sandy knocked us down, but haven’t we learned from the past that New York and its inhabitants are resilient? New York is our home, our excitement, our livelihood, our kid.
Like a parent to a child, it takes devotion and care to wake a city. New York, we’re coaxing you. Wake up. It’s time for breakfast.