It won't be that bad, we are not even in an evacuation zone. Maybe the storm will just die down or turn back out to the Atlantic. Although my residence hall in lower Manhattan did not fall victim to the rising flood waters left behind by Hurricane Sandy, the natural disaster did not leave my peers and me at NYU unaffected.
On Monday afternoon, the residential advisor briefed my dorm floor in preparation for Hurricane Sandy's landfall. Though the powerful winds were making the walls tremble every few minutes, our electronics were still glowing and the faucets in our bathrooms were still running. All was relatively normal, for the next half hour that was.
Like a movie, the lights blinked off and the backup generators kicked in, while the water pressure surprisingly remained constant in a majority of the complex. Even without power, my friends and I found our first night to be entertaining and pretty enjoyable. We were having "fun" laughing as we tried to climb the staircases in record speed—our legs, however, disagreed with these antics after a few trials.
Most of my floor gathered for some acoustic music, candid photographs and Halloween cookies that were left over from the "Urban Pumpkin Carving" party our hall had had the previous night. (Believe it or not, there are makeshift pumpkin patches in Manhattan, though the "patches" are more or less piles of pumpkins beside building stoops.)
When the novelty of living without electricity expectedly wore off the next morning, the headaches incited by the absence of caffeine anywhere below 34th Street set in. Cell service slowly but surely diminished to the point where even those who are usually glued to their smart devices switched off the power to preserve the battery power that remained.
On Tuesday I headed toward the East River with a few friends to check out the nearby aftermath; we were curious to see firsthand what the media was reporting just blocks away. What we saw seemed very surreal. Mattresess and furniture were strewn on sidewalks, blocked-off roadways were flooded and the lights of otherwise 24-hour shops were out. Traffic was wild and crossing a four-lane street was near impossible, as the signals were not functioning.
It seemed that most of my campus had gotten through the storm pretty well. Aside from a few fallen trees around Washington Square Park and the nearby streets, the disruptions faced by the students were predominantly indirect results of flooding blocks away from the center of campus. In the midst of the storm on Monday night, the biggest difference my floor mates and I could see out of our windows was the emptiness of the streets. We could see no flooding, but the howling winds reminded us of the storm ravaging through the more coastal neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
On a trek uptown, I was reminded by kids walking around in costumes that Halloween was still on the minds of the youngsters downtown. Seeing people skipping around with smiles on their faces against the remnants of Hurricane Sandy was a reminder of how thankful those of us who have lost the mere conveniences of power and hot water should be. While the past few days have been filled with a mix of uneasiness, confusion, and a bit of discomfort, my friends and I made it through the storm safely and, in the scheme of things, comfortably.
Now the city is in recovery mode, and most people seem to be keeping a positive outlook on all that has gone on throughout the city and neighboring towns. Looking back at the lead up to the storm, both the university and city officials kept students informed and prepared for what was ahead. The common theme of this past week has been one of coming together and making things work, especially for residents living in older high rise dormitories. Students living in these older buildings were among the first to lose power and water, but because they were not in the direct path of flooding, they were not evacuated before the storm. Without electricty or stable cell service, these students gradually learned that they would need to find alternate accomodations with friends or family in other dorms or throughout the city, leaving many questioning "Where do I go now?"
With classes cancelled for the remainder of the week, many students tried to find a way out by traveling uptown or out of town entirely. Students who stayed in their residence halls that still had generator power also prepared their common rooms to help accomodate friends who were required to evacuate their respective buildings after Sandy had blown through Lower Manhattan. In the tweeted words of Mayor Bloomberg, "New Yorkers always rise to the occasion." This past week, students and staff at NYU have lived up to that statement.
Based on the optimistic media coverage and crews' dedicated work visible throughout some of the more damaged areas in Manhattan, it seems as though the recovery efforts are moving as quickly as they can following such a devastating event.
Like many of my peers and neighbors, my thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been negatively impacted in any way by this natural disaster.