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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sandy (& Barry)

Lone Pretzel Vendor on 5th Avenue © Nina Buesing Corvallo
So that happened. I live in lower Manhattan also briefly known as SoPo.
Our electricity was restored about 24 hours ago. We spent five nights in the dark, which was not a big deal. The weather was not too cold and our building retained a lot of heat inertia.
Friday night the outside temperature dropped into the 30s which was worrisome, especially because we have a baby. But just in the nick of time power came back on and we did not have to evacuate.

I long ago absorbed the lesson that anything can happen at any moment. Nor do I like to go shopping every day or do laundry too frequently. As a result we were well stocked on water, food, cat food, medicines, flashlights, candles, battery & crank radios, diapers, clean clothes and we even have a land line (which works on the electricity supplied from the old copper phone lines and works in a black out). We are also lucky to reside in a solidly constructed building, so we did not even hear or feel the winds. Our basement did not flood.We also retained our gas service and most importantly we had running (cold) water (if you live below the fifth floor in Manhattan water  is apparently gravity fed). The baby still breastfeeds so that was not an issue either.
Of course we were saddened and horrified to hear about the loss of life and the devastation in New York and New Jersey and as far reaching as Connecticut, but for us the black out was also a somewhat magical experience or perhaps a bit of time travel. All but the locals disappeared, all the noise and traffic stopped. Downtown returned to the 70s/80s for a couple of days. We plugged in an old phone and ever time it rang it sounded like the Rockford Files ;)
We cooked and ate dinners by candle light, listening to NPR. Heated water to wash the baby and ourselves. Put on a sweater (I hear you Jimmy Carter), cuddled for extra heat and went to sleep earlier. During the day we just focused on the essentials and were not distracted by the internet, text messages or noise. We felt actually quite sane. It was a bit like we went on a cleanse.
I grew up mostly outside of the US and spend time in Belize every year, so I am used to power outages and the idea of conserving. As is my husband and we quickly fell into the rhythm of our temporary situation. Now that power is back, we realize once more how power hungry a nation we are. It's really time to change.And for that reason, I hope that President Obama gets re-elected.
And I think we can change. Someone said to me after Sandy, that maybe it was time that we moved. Are you kidding me? We do not run, certainly not from Sandy (Romney is much more frightening). I have no intention of moving anywhere any time soon. Every time New York and I go through something , we love each other more. Yes, we were struck by disaster but no matter where you run to, tragedy can strike. It's a New Yorker's favorite pass time to contemplate living elsewhere, brought on by quotidian frustration related to cost, noise, etc. Whatever. I'm staying put.
This experience has been oddly invigorating and inspirational. Nothing like a little kick in the butt to remind you what's what.
This is a great town. At no point did I feel unsafe while in the dark. Yes, there was reflected light reaching us from midtown and NYU's campus remained somewhat lit by their generator. And yes, I have the undercover robbery squad near me. And NoPo was only about 15 blocks away. All that helped but more importantly this is a city that for the most part pulls together when in need.
My husband needed emergency root canal therapy during the black out. Our awesome dentist Dr. Boyd was also without power. But he met us at his practice, dispensed medication and arranged for a dental appointment uptown for my husband in an hour. That's New York for you. So much opportunity and so many resources. If you want it, it's here for you.
And before I finish this post, an extra special Thank You to all the Non-New Yorkers helping us! It was great seeing utility trucks from everywhere stationed in Union Square. Two Thumps up for our local government as well as our federal government.

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