Michael Karlesky

A cabinet of wonders. Minus the cabinet. And possibly the wonders.

Another year, another hurricane. And, yes, I'm okay.

I've lived in New York City for a little over fourteen months now. Or, counting in alternate units: two hurricanes. First Irene and now this super storm that included hurricane Sandy. Yes, I'm okay. Thank God. But many others aren't. Many New Yorkers were rather dismissive of this storm because Irene was mostly a non-event. I felt like I was actively campaigning to convince some of them otherwise several times. Even without a direct hit, we were in for trouble. And that's just what happened. It’s been worse than even the City’s warnings. As of today, there are eighteen fatalities reported for New York City.

Even now as I look out my window the trees are still blowing pretty hard now and again. Public transit was shut down Sunday night. Mandatory evacuations for low lying areas were issued. Roommate and I have been holed up in our apartment since Sunday afternoon. We got supplies, filled buckets with water, removed our A/C window units, did some last minute caulking (seriously), and just went about our business as best as we could.

By Monday morning the winds were getting bad. We never got much rain. However, Sandy was so big and such a low pressure system that it caused a storm surge that broke records from the early 1800s. It didn’t help that the storm coincided with high tide. We started getting reports and images of flooding in the low lying areas not far from us (we live on some of the highest ground in Brooklyn, however).

By Monday evening we heard at least two goodly sized branches give way out in the darkness. We even felt our six floor brick building sway in the wind at one point. I lost count of how many times our power flickered. We sprung a leak in one of our kitchen windows. A towel, a spatula, string, a bucket, and some engineering took care of that until we can get the flashing of that window fixed properly.

School has been cancelled for three days now. It may not even be open on Thursday contingent upon the subway system being in working order. Jimmy Fallon recorded Late Night Monday evening without an audience. His monlogue to an empty studio is strangely hilarious.

Speaking of the subway system, the tunnels under the river and many of the stations are flooded. The transit authority thinks it may take up to four days to pump the water out. We’re fairly certain that the Metro North line was designed for trains, not boats. Of course, car tunnels have been flooded as well, but public transit is the lifeblood of the city.

The City is reporting 4,000 service requests for downed trees and branches. The World Trade Center construction site is under water. In fact, much of lower Manhattan is flooded. It's also without power. A power station even exploded. An NYU hospital had to be evacuated when its generators failed. Of course, the hardest hit areas are those on low ground near the water. A fire in Queens burned up to fifty homes.

New Jersey was hit even harder than we were. A pastor friend in Connecticut is without power for seven to ten days; he and his family are collecting wood and making use of the fireplace in their parsonage.

The City has been really on top of this storm. The photo up top is of my iPhone screen after an emergency alert was issued by the City. I've never seen that symbol nor that style of message before. In fact, my phone sounded the emergency broadcast alert sound when it came in. I have to admit that my roommate and I freaked out just a little upon hearing that ominous tone unexpectedly from the other room. We’ve been getting regular updates and all manner of preparations were made for the storm. Bridges are now open again and clean-up is under way. The sun made a brief appearance. I can hear car horns and loud music through my window. I suppose, then, in its way, New York City is back to normal already…

UPDATE (Oct. 30, 2012): NYU•Poly is now closed until Monday November, 5. This means no classes for an entire week.

UPDATE (Nov. 2, 2012): The death toll for New York City has risen to forty-one from the eighteen I originally cited. The subway is yet half offline. Crews are still working to pump the tunnels. It may be until next week that we have public transportation among all the boroughs. Various ferries, carpooling rules, and shuttle buses have been filling the gaps as best as possible. Though it's gotten progressively streamlined, the city can only limp along without the subway.