Thursday, November 1st
One of the more surreal sights was being awake at sunrise on Thursday November 1st as the sun came up over a completely dark lower Manhattan. Barely visible in the skyline is the clock town of the Consolidated Edison company, NYC’s largest distributor of electricity and gas. A massive fire on the night of the storm plunged most of Manhattan below 39th Street into a darkness that lasted for approximately 5-7 days – even longer than much of Hoboken.
Each morning an emergency responder going on duty would stop by each of the 3 evacuation shelters to make sure we had sufficient food and water to get through the day.
Each evacuation shelter was unique. The clientele, the building systems, the location, the staff / volunteers, and the set up were different at each place. Here in the basement of Sts. Peter and Paul church our sign in desk was illuminated by a lamp brought over by a fraternity. Key phone numbers were taped to the table, and a running list of important notes became the log which the next supervisor could reference when he/ she arrived for duty.
One of the first and largest food donations that arrived was 100,000 MREs (“Meals Ready to Eat”). Notice the stylish packaging. By this time the High School had been turned into a food bank. An early plan to use that building as an Evacuation Shelter was thwarted by the widespread blackout and failure of numerous backup generators around town.
What a difference a street tree makes. Here at the corner of First and Bloomfield a street lamp still dangles dangerously on a power line. The light pole was toppled by a street tree that blew over in the storm. Anecdotal reports are that more than 80% of the fallen trees were the same species: Callery Pear.
Damage at the Shipyard Marina was widespread, as these docks still hang in the air days later. The orange crane in the dock at Union Dry Dock, however, weathered the storm just fine and the dry dock operation was back at work in approximately a week.
By the end of day 3 our impromptu “refrigerator” on the deck was almost out of provisions.