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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Storm 7, Power Outage...

I was lying on my bed watching an episode of The Universe on my laptop, considering one last attempt at a nap when the power went out. This was around a quarter to nine. I noticed my phone showed a message from my sister asking if I was okay because they had turned off the power in Lower Manhattan. At that point, I almost got up to turn the TV back on to see what I could see. I heard a noise of wind outside that banged something over again and then, almost as if in response to the noise, the lights went off. "Oh shit. Now it's getting serious" is what immediately ran through my mind. I started frantically grabbing things (not sure why I was so frantic) and throwing them in my bag, mostly valuables, leaving only my clothes there. On some level I must've realized that the locks on the door might not work without the power and if I was going to be here at the station all night, I had better not leave anything that might get stolen. I'm not even sure this thought had time to run through my mind. All I was thinking was I'd better just get to the station where there's bound to be power.

A voice came on the intercom and just kept repeating, "may I have your attention please?" Out in the hallway it was dark except for the exit signs, the emergency lights the hotel promised never having come on. I breezed past the elevator bank to the stairwell, using the flashlight app on my phone to see in the pitch dark stairwell. A few floors down I was passed by hotel workers with flashlights who directed me to go down to the lobby. At the bottom, eight flights later, was another hotel employee directing me out of the stairwell into the lobby. It was quite busy with activity. Diners at the restaurant had their flashlights and phones out and people were milling about. I saw some of the employees checking out the electrical panels. I assume they were trying to get generators up or something. I thought about waiting in the lobby but decided against it.
Upon leaving the hotel, I could see there was no power in many of the buildings except for emergency lighting in stairwells and things like that. The wind howled and rain fell sideways though not as hard as it had done earlier. I jogged across the street, picking up the pace when I heard something rather large sliding down the street behind me, unsure what the wind had picked up and not wanting to find out. I slid into the entrance of the building where the security guard asked me where I was headed and directed me to a stairwell I've never had to use. On the way up I ran into two of the news assistants I work with carrying camera equipment up the six flights of stairs, having just come from shooting footage outside the market. They looked exhausted. The air was quite tense in the newsroom. At that point, I don't think we were on the air, but we were on backup generators for the essentials. Unfortunately, the essentials did not seem to include refrigerators holding all the leftover food they fed us today. The rumor is there will be no food delivery tomorrow. What we have is what we have. Hopefully, things won't be nearly as crazy and we'll be able to get some food here.

My boss told me not to clock in yet and conserve my energy for the long overnight shift ahead. But I couldn't relax. There's too much excitement. I took some pics out the window of the blackout and sat for a while watching all the activity outside, listening to the wind howling and to things shifting on rooftops and down side streets.

Police cars were riding down 9th Avenue with their lights on and there were people walking around with flashlights. I heard someone say there was a group of people stealing sand bags from the front of the Chelsea Market and loading them into a minivan. I sat in the breakroom looking out that window for a while with the security guard who has been here all day. There was so much happening out there and we were straining to hear what the wind was doing and to see where the lights we were seeing were coming from. I've had goose bumps all night long from all the excitement. I tried to take something of a nap in the dark of the break room but did not succeed. When I finally did clock in, it was about 10:15. One of the first things I wanted to do was see a lot of the video that's been coming in all day. It's all pretty harrowing. As my coworkers read me in, I sifted through them all and found one that just blew my mind. This explosion happened at a Con Ed power substation on 14th street near the FDR. For context, we are on 15th street on the West side of Manhattan. The FDR snakes up along the east side. Check it out.

 I saw another video later of a substation four blocks from my apartment in South Slope doing the same thing. I texted Katrina to make sure she was okay. We still have power but I think she heard the emergency vehicles. So this is getting a little crazy now and I'm hearing that power might not be restored for a week. What does that mean for public transit? I don't know. The subway tunnels are flooded, the outer boroughs and beaches are flooded. I don't have any idea when things will be back to normal. I'm going to try and sleep the day away in the hotel tomorrow and maybe try to make my way home somehow. I need reliable access to food and can't count on that here. I was lucky today that I was able to get food. I'll try to keep the updates coming. Good night for now. Four more hours and I can leave. 

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