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October 31, 2012

Water-Logged NYC Struggling to Recover from Sandy

by Adam Phillips

Hurricane Sandy hit New York City on Monday, causing severe flooding, power outages and a mass transit shutdown. And while the danger and the drama of the storm are on the wane for most residents of the city, the return to normalcy has just begun.

Three candy-loving four-year-olds anticipating Wednesday's Halloween celebration made their first real trip outside since Hurricane Sandy pounded their hometown Monday night.  

“Unfortunately our Halloween plans got canceled because we didn’t have the days to prepare but these guys are still going to 'trick or treat' and celebrate with their families at home.  So it’s not a total loss.  Now we are just walking around seeing how the neighborhood has changed since the hurricane hit,” said Cassie, their minder at a private daycare center. .

But discovering a changed community is not only for trick or treaters.

Adasha Sanchez, a cashier, was shocked by what she has observed on the streets near her apartment.

“I never really experienced coming into work climbing over trees and branches, and cars were even damaged.  It was like a movie.  It was really crazy.  And I feel so bad for the people that experienced floods in their apartments and homes and lost people," Sanchez said.  

Traffic in New York is normally bad.  But with the subway system still shut down and severely curtailed bus service within and into the city, the streets are gridlocked with carloads of commuters trying to get to work and trucks catching up on three days of deliveries.

Rachel is one of thousands of New Yorkers who want to get to work for the first time since Friday. She says she is frustrated and disappointed at the number of taxis that have passed with only one passenger, when they are allowed to take more during the emergency.

“I tried to take a cab right now with someone in it and the person inside refused to share the ride with me.  It was really disappointing.  I yelled at him that this was really not in keeping with the spirit of New Yorkers.  And I haven’t seen a bus in 45 minutes," Rachel said.

Orli, who just moved to New York from Israel with her husband and three children, says it’s been challenging.  

"People are saying the public schools are going to be off until Monday and we just have to try to balance working at home, a whole week of no work, and kids at home.  We’ve carved pumpkins. We’ve baked cookies, and we’ve climbed the walls quite a bit,” Orli said.

For the thousands of New Yorkers still without power, or whose homes or workplaces are flooded, the dislocation and misery brought by Hurricane Sandy continue.  Officials insist that the city’s infrastructure will almost certainly be up and running within a week.