Saturday, November 03, 2012

104 hours mostly in the dark

Well, that was certainly interesting.

Here in lower Manhattan, Hurricane Sandy was an incredible non-event in terms of rain.  On the other hand, the winds took down a large part of a tree that might have smashed through our house if it had fallen in a different direction.  And then, obviously, there was the real problem, the degree of the ocean's surge, which apparently took Con Edison by surprise.

We had some flickering on Monday as the storm winds were peaking and it was getting towards high tide, but somehow (from the experience of Hurricane Irene and a bit of native optimism) I figured we would be OK.  Then, at 8:30 pm that night, kaboom, all the lights went out.  We only learned the next day (by walking around town and talking to people) about the gigantic explosion of the 14th Street power plant by the East River.

Then no power, with dropping temperatures in our house (though it never got below 60) and ever-less-fresh milk in the darkened fridge, until last night, at 4:25 am, we got our power back, almost 104 hours after it had gone out.

Since we had running water, and indeed even hot water, the biggest problem was the evenings, which weren't a lot of fun even though we had an array of flashlights and candles.  That plus the lack of phone access even via iPhone, since AT&T was dead in most of the Dead Zone.  I was spending the days at my office, which had limited power, and having a fairly good time working (as mentioned in an earlier post) on a new article that looks back at the very interesting Henry Simons.  The office was also where I could get on the Internet, find out what was happening, and recharge electrical devices.

Walking north past the Dead Zone for dinner was fun, and several enterprising Dead Zone restaurants were operating with limited menus, via candlelight plus gas stoves or ovens.  Cash only and no beer unless you're British and like it warm, but it had a certain festive quality.  The trick was not to get back home too early.  Last night I handled this by going on Stub Hub and getting tickets to the New York Knicks' season opener, which turned out to be a rousing 20-point win over the Miami Heat (with plenty of boos from the crowd for LeBron James - though by now there doesn't seem to be much animus behind it; it's just what we do - and also for Ray Allen).

Something tells me this isn't the last time something like this will be happening around here.

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