Monday, November 12, 2012

Recharging Battery Park

Hello, hello! I'm happy to report that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has finally come to an end in New York City. The Mr. and I are home sweet home and both Tribeca and Battery Park are still standing. We have heat and hot water (yay!) and Whole Foods across the street is finally stocked with more than chips, canned soup and paper towels.

We are so grateful for the outpouring of thoughts, prayers, messages and phone calls over the past couple weeks. You guys are the best!

As you know, we lost power on the first day of the storm. So, needless to say, for the next several days, it seemed that our family and friends were much more in tune with what was going on around us. Every brief conversation I had with people outside the Big Apple sounded more like a news broadcast of what was happening right in my own neighborhood, and I had no clue!

Because I wasn't able to keep in touch with everyone, here's a brief play-by-play of how we lived through the "Frankenstorm".

{Ideally, this would have been posted as "live coverage", but lack of power obviously prevented that from happening.}

Day 1:: Sunday, October 28, 2012:: I woke up early, ready for my morning coffee at Kaffe 1668 and a workout at the gym. As I gathered my things, I turned on the news to find more talk of the weather, which had been going on for days. Then, 'Breaking News', Mayor Bloomberg announced that in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, mandatory evacuations had gone into effect for Zone A in New York City. Our Tribeca apartment happened to be right in the center of Zone A.

The Mr. was still in Calgary on business when the evacuation was announced. His plane was scheduled to depart for New York early afternoon MST. We thought he was going to make it here just in time, until Air Canada cancelled all flights to the East Coast. To our later learning, it was for the best, as the high winds started to roll in that evening.

Thankfully, my Brother-In-Law, Tim, and Sister-In-Law, Trish, also live in the city, outside of Zone A. They graciously said I could stay with them, a place we coin 'The Schneider Hotel'. I arrived around dinnertime. We ate, watched the news and waited for Sandy.

By this point, The Estee Lauder Companies had closed all offices for Monday. It was nice to know I didn't have to work on my birthday, but strange to think about being in the path of such a severe storm.

Day 2:: Monday, October 29, 2012:: It was my Golden Birthday. And, the day the Hurricane would strike. The weather was fairly calm when we all woke up. But, the forecasts for later were getting worse because the storm's speed had picked up.

The biggest concern at this point was loss of power. I can't even remember the last time I didn't have power in the city. I don't think it's ever happened to me! So you can imagine the surprise when we heard that all of Manhattan should prepare for days, even up to a week, of no electricity. It made me a little uneasy.

Trish and I filled up huge buckets, pitchers and plastic crates with water, enough to last about a week. And, Tim bought a few large bags of ice to keep in the freezer. We also went to the grocery store for more non-perishable items. Many stores were already closed at this point, and the ones that were open were low on everything. Luckily, we got a few things and Tim and Trish had a big stash of flashlights and candles from the year before.

Around mid-afternoon, we went for walk, just to get a little fresh air and see what it was like outside. The rain had started, but it wasn't overly windy. The calm before the storm, I guess.

To my surprise, when we returned home, Tim and Trish had a bouquet of flowers for me to celebrate my birthday! They were beautiful.

We continued to watch the news well into the evening. High tide arrived at 8:00 PM. And, by 9:00 PM, we were without power. From this point forward, my perception of the storm is completely different than what all of you heard. I felt like I was in a little bubble, isolated from any news and outside communication, just trying to get by until we had electricity and running water again.

Day 3:: Tuesday, October 30, 2012:: Today was the hardest day. My phone didn't work and email wasn't coming through on my Blackberry. There really was no way of knowing how bad the storm actually hit Manhattan and the Northeast. All I knew was that we were all fine and there wasn't any significant damage to Tim and Trish's apartment. All good things.

About 30 minutes after I woke up, Trish returned with a small cup of coffee. The greatest thing ever! She laughed as she handed it to me, saying it was vanilla flavoured and cold, two things I greatly dislike in a cup of joe. However, today, nothing could have tasted better. It was coffee. Trish said the streets were extremely quiet. Some people were walking around, but the rain continued, so it was pretty barren. Power was out everywhere, which also meant that all streetlights and traffic signals were out. The sidewalks were covered with a lot of debris, but all in all, things looked okay.

Back at the apartment, we sat on the couch, read magazines and cookbooks, and pretty much hoped the time would pass quickly. By dinner time, we realized the best way to make something would be to light the propane grill on the roof to cook sausages and rolls. That we did, and called it an early night.

Day 4:: Wednesday, October 31, 2012:: Okay, we're approaching two days since I've had a shower and I'm starting to feel a little unsettled. Downtown Manhattan is still completely dark and without power. However, parts of the city above 39th street are up and running.

We have one working phone in the group, so I was able to chat with the Mr. for a little bit. He received an update from our apartment in Tribeca: Over 11 ft. of water filled the basement, the car packade was completely flooded and there was over 2 ft. of water in the lobby of the building. There was no word yet on power restoration or when residents would be allowed back home. Ugh, hmmmm...

On the bright side, Tim successfully arranged for Trish and I to use the locker room at his office. We showered, watched a little TV, charged Trish's phone and then headed back to the darkness of downtown.

Public transportation was still shutdown. Some buses were running, but they were packed tight like sardines and the line to get on stretched for blocks. We walked over 4 miles to get to/from, but certainly couldn't complain!

Oh, and on the way, we bought a puzzle. A 2,000 piece puzzle of Time Square at night. We thought it was fitting for the state of utter darkness we're experiencing.

The Mr. was thinking about flying into the city the next day. However, that idea got scratched when we heard that all tunnels/bridges/access to Manhattan were blocked. He was forced to reschedule, once again.

By 6:00 PM, it was dark and there wasn't much to do. Even with all our candles and flashlights, it wasn't light enough to start our puzzle (sigh!). So, Trish and I poured ourselves a glass of wine.

When Tim got home, we debated which bottle to open from their recent shipment of Williams Seylem Pinot Noir. It was very hard to decide, so we figured the best thing to do was obviously a vertical tasting.

We selected three bottles (only to have a few sips of each, of course), tasted, enjoyed and discussed the different varietals. Who does a vertical wine tasting during a blackout? The Schneider's!

{Trish and I enjoying our own wine tasting during the 2012 Blackout}

{Playing pieces from the game Sequence identified the different wines}

{The three bottles of Williams Seylem Pinot Noir we decided to taste }

By the way, the two winning wines were the Williams Seylem Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast and the Williams Seylem Pinot Noir Russian River Valley.

Day 4:: Thursday, November 1, 2012:: The only thing to say about this day is that we still don't have power. Trish and I started the puzzle around 9:00 AM and that's all we did until the sun went down. Yep, eight straight of 'puzzling'. Haha, and I'd be lying not to mention that the temperature started dropping dramatically in the apartment. We sat a the kitchen table, bundled in Trish's ski gear, trying to stay warm!

Day 5:: Friday, November 2, 2012:: I think I forgot to mention, but work was closed all week. It's hard to believe, I know! My Blackberry still had no service. I felt completely out of touch with the real world. And, downtown was still completely eerie and dark.

Again, Trish and I ventured uptown for a shower and lunch. We all tried to make the best of this situation... A little bite to eat at Fig & Olive definitely helped. Trish and I walked another 4 miles home and worked on the puzzle again.

For more light, we hung a flashlight from the ceiling fan with cooking twine. Yes, it sounds crazy, but it really made a difference in the brightness... We continued our puzzling until at least 8:00 PM!

We made a lot of progress on our 2,000 piece puzzle, don't you think?

And then FINALLY... Around 11:00 PM, the kitchen lights flashed on! We were all silent for about 15 seconds until it registered that the neighborhood of Chelsea regained power. Then, the celebrating started!

By this point, however, Tribeca was still in the dark. My fingers were crossed that lower Manhattan would be up and running by the morning, but who could know for sure?

At least the Mr. would be on his way to the city bright and early!

Day 6:: Saturday, November 3, 2012:: Power was restored at 200 Chambers Street! There wasn't heat, but who cares! After a full week's evacuation, I was headed home sweet home.

It's unbelievable to think that the magnitude of this weather system could completely shutdown a city the size of Manhattan! I'm happy to say that everyone we know is safe and sound and survived the storm without much damage. There are many relief efforts still going on around the area and it's amazing to see how people will go out of their way to help out complete strangers. I'm so thankful to Tim and Trish for taking me under their wing for an entire week. In such extreme circumstances, it's wonderful to have family so close and be in such good company!

For future guests at Tim and Trish's apartment, a.k.a. 'The Schneider Hotel', our puzzle will be framed on the wall in the guest bedroom with a plaque signifying 'Hurricane Sandy and the New York City Blackout of 2012'.

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