Tag "Hurricane Sandy"

We arrived in Brooklyn late last night after getting word that electricity had been restored to our apartment building. The elevators were still out which meant we had a long hike up to the 9th floor, but the relief of being back in NYC was worth it. I don’t want to be away right now.

This afternoon we headed out to drop off supplies for Sandy victims. The situation in the outer boroughs, where people—many of them elderly and immobile or financially unable to relocate—are living without heat and with a diminishing food supply, is becoming increasingly dire as temperatures drop. 20,000 of the 40,000 New York City residents expected to be displaced by Sandy are public housing residents. You may have heard that there is a gas shortage in NYC right now as a result of the storm (there are waits at open gas stations of 4–5 hours, and many stations are closed because they don’t have power), but aside from the resulting transportation issues that have been reported on, people are now unable to power generators. The disparity between recovery efforts in downtown Manhattan and in Queens and Long Island is dramatic. There are people in danger who need help NOW.

My friend Jenna has written a compelling post at Sweet Fine Day about the devastation she’s seen first hand, and what she and others have been doing to help. She has also compiled a GREAT list of local organizations that are providing direct assistance to those effected by the hurricane—donations to the Red Cross aren’t bringing relief fast enough. If you would like to help, please consider giving to one of these groups. Even if you can’t contribute, I urge you to read Jenna’s post—it paints a much truer picture of what’s going on here right now than anything you’ll see on CNN.

Occupy Sandy has set up a registry through Amazon to facilitate the donation of the most-needed supplies in a very simple way. If you are not in NYC and would like to help, this is a great way to do it. Occupy Sandy volunteers are making daily deliveries to priority response areas. THANK YOU!

If you’re in DUMBO, Gleason’s Gym and Superfine—both on Front Street—are accepting donations of blankets (the most-needed item!), coats, water, non-perishable food, batteries, trash bags, diapers and other supplies on-site. Donated items will be delivered directly to those in need in outer-borough areas affected by Sandy.

The community effort I saw today in DUMBO is really heartening. A lot of small, independent businesses took a real beating from the storm, and ground-floor apartments (including the ones in my building) were destroyed. Those who fared well are helping out those who didn’t by making their showers, food, water and electricity available. Clean-up efforts and fundraisers are in full swing. DUMBO has the benefit of being an area that attracts a lot of tourists, so I’m hopeful that people will continue to visit! There are a lot of tech-industry and creative jobs in DUMBO as well, and the sooner those people can get back to work, the better. The DUMBO Improvement District site has info how to donate specifically to the businesses who suffered the greatest losses.

Damage and recovery at my favorite book store, powerHouse Arena. There were piles of water-logged, destroyed books on the sidewalk outside. I took a photo, but I can’t bring myself to post it…

One Girl Cookies is closed indefinitely due to extensive damage. Today they opened a pop-up shop a local children’s clothing store.

Galapagos Art Space was completely flooded, but managed to reopen yesterday after a massive clean-up effort. The before and after photos are amazing!

Jane’s Carousel survived in spite of the water that crept under the bottom of its enclosure. It’ll be a while before it’s operational again as the underground electrics were flooded under 5 feet of water, but the horses are fine.

✚ DUMBO is a really popular destination for wedding photos (barely a day goes by when I don’t see a bride or two posing outside my building), and it was nice to see that tradition continuing today. DUMBO will be just fine.

This is the final set of photos I took before leaving Brooklyn last night. Our building in DUMBO is still off-limits per the FDNY—extensive flooding everything on the lower levels means must be completely rebuilt and inspected by ConEd before the power can be restored and residents can move back in. Our apartment is on the 9th floor and was thankfully unaffected, but the apartments at ground level were destroyed. We were allowed back in to retrieve belongings (and empty the refrigerator!), but we have no idea when the building will be habitable again.

We are, of course, very fortunate to have our house up in Newburgh in addition to the apartment, so that’s where we are now. We brought Jen from Honey Kennedy (currently visiting from Portland—possibly the worst “vacation” ever!) along with us, and everything is really fine up here. There are some downed trees and the waterfront restaurants were flooded, but it seems the Hudson Valley was spared the damage that affected New York City, New Jersey and other points south. We weren’t so lucky up here during Irene! Metro-North trains aren’t running yet (nor are subways between Manhattan and Brooklyn), so I have no way to get to work from Newburgh. It’s strange to feel so immobile.

I took these photos on the apartment roof deck last night at around 8PM—worth climbing 10 flights of stairs in the dark to take them. It’s so strange to see the lower Manhattan skyline so dark—the only lights are those powered by generators. When I walked down to the street level, I noticed that the Empire State Building was perfectly framed—and perfectly illuminated—beneath the Manhattan Bridge. I’m such a cynical person by nature, but I’d be lying if I said the sight didn’t put a lump in my throat.

Now that I’ve caught up on news and have seen the complete devastation that’s occurred in in areas like Breezy Point in the Rockaways and Seaside Heights on the Jersey shore, I feel even more grateful to have escaped without harm. Having to wait for electricity and trains is nothing next to people who have lost everything, including their homes.

Waiting for Sandy (Sunday mid-afternoon)
Still waiting (Monday, early afternoon)
Sandy, during (Monday, 6:00–8:30PM)

I’m exhausted, so this update will be brief! So…Sandy came. I took photos on the roof deck of my apartment every couple of hours (I stopped going out there when it got windy—I was never in any danger), so you can see the progression of the water level in DUMBO between 6:00–8:30PM. Pretty much everything from the park to Front Street wound up getting flooded.

We did lose power and wound up having to evacuate at around 9PM. An electrical fire started in building across the street from us, and the fire department was unable to put it out. Because they were concerned the same thing would happen in our building, they asked us to leave right away. The lobby and lower level of the building were totally flooded when we left—no idea what the status is now.

Fortunately my brother lives a couple of miles away in Cobble Hill, which is at a higher elevation. The walk there was pretty harrowing—the wind was insane, there were trees and debris everywhere and we were each carrying a (tiny, scared) dog. By the time we reached Montague Street, we had to stop. My brother came and retrieved us in his car! Luckily no one stopped him—no cars were supposed to be on the street.

So we’re OK. We have no idea when we can get back into our apartment, no idea when the subways will be running…no idea about anything. But we’re OK, and so are our friends and family. There are an awful lot of people who aren’t OK, though—and right now that’s who I’m worried about.

The photo above was taken during the explosion at the ConEd power plant in lower Manhattan. The light in the sky was crazy. I hustled back inside after that!

I Instagrammed the photos below last night, and the first two kind of became a “viral sensation,” which was weird. They were picked up by just about every news website (hey, I got published on the New York Times front page, haha), every TV network, and every everything everywhere, all over the world. I got an interview request from Romanian Public Radio this morning. Crazy. Anyway, if you wound up here because of one of those pictures, I assure you that they are real and that they were taken from the roof deck of my apartment building, which is located directly under the Manhattan Bridge right next to Brooklyn Bridge Park. I was outside of “Zone A,” the area that was under mandatory evacuation prior to the storm.

The very last photo here is the street outside my building as we were evacuating. Lots of water, but it could have been so much worse. Grateful.

If you would like to use any of the photos in this post for any reason, please email me at to let me know. Credit line must read © Anna Dorfman and link back to this post. I am happy to provide higher-resolution images, but bear in mind that they are grainy—these were taken with a hand-held point-and-shoot (and an iPhone) in the dark on a windy roof. Thanks!

Waiting for Sandy (Sunday mid-afternoon)
Still Waiting (Monday, early afternoon)

Here are some iPhone photos of the scene in DUMBO, Brooklyn, at around 1PM Monday afternoon. It’s rainy and windy and the water is rising a bit, but nothing significant yet. Our corner market, Peas & Pickles, is still open and doing brisk business. I stopped in to La Bagel just as they were selling out of the rest of their fresh stock and getting ready to close for the day.

Red Hook is already flooding, as are Battery Park and the Gowanus Canal (ugh). I’ve heard that trees are coming down in other parts of Brooklyn. So we’re doing well in DUMBO for now. Of course, Sandy is still far away…

I’m not sure where else to put these photos, but I figured I’d post them in case any Zone A evacuees are wondering what things are looking like around the Manhattan Bridge right now. Unless the wind intensifies to a point where it could be unsafe for me to go up on the roof deck of my apartment building, I’ll take a few more snaps later today and this evening and post them as well.

A little more than a year ago, we were camped out in our old apartment in Washington Heights waiting for hurricane Irene, and tonight we’re hunkered down* in Brooklyn waiting for hurricane Sandy.

We’re admittedly more nervous this time around. Irene did a lot of serious damage upstate and in the northeastern states, but New York City got off relatively easy. I don’t know if we’ll be so lucky this time around—no one seems to really know. We decided to stay here rather than go up to our house for a few reasons (less chance of being stranded for days without power or being squashed by a tree, primarily), and there’s really no time for second guessing.

DUMBO is a waterfront neighborhood, and our apartment is about as close to the East River as you can be without actually being in it. The other side of our street is in the mandatory evacuation zone—a technicality, I guess, but one that’s giving me a sense of security just for being 5 feet to the north of the dividing line.

The subways have been shut down in anticipation of flooding, which feels very strange. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that the NYC subways have been completely out of commission. They might not be back in service until Wednesday, which is impossible for me to imagine. This is not a city that can function without mass transit. Obviously I won’t be going into work tomorrow! The parks are closed, all construction has been halted, sandbags are in place, the stores have been raided for batteries and bread, and it’s very, very quiet outside.

I’m keeping busy answering emails, cleaning the apartment and baking peanut butter blondies. I feel like I really need to keep everything in order right now.

Before it started to get windy, I took the dogs on a really long walk. The pre-storm light was gray and beautiful, and I took a bunch of photos—I guess because I’m worried DUMBO might not look like this tomorrow. I spent a long time watching Jane’s Carousel go around and around inside its glass box, hoping that storm surges won’t rise above the platform it sits on.

Stay safe, everyone.

*That’s for you, K.