Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: On The Ground In New York City

For tourists and locals alike, the post-Sandy vibe in New York City is unusual, even eerie.

With subway lines down throughout the city, slow bus service and intense traffic – everyone’s who’s got a car is currently using it to get around – the remaining signs of wreckage from the storm make for a spooky Halloween. The city’s weird mood is backdropped by the continuing lack of electricity in lower Manhattan, which makes the normally iconic NYC skyline totally dark (you can see it here, if you click through to the 16th image).

Yesterday afternoon, there were hundreds or even thousands of pedestrians walking across the Williamsburg Bridge, which separates powerless Manhattan from a neighborhood in Brooklyn where electricity is flowing and residents are carousing as though a Frankenstorm didn’t just pass through. Children in costume walked the bridge with their parents to go trick-or-treating; for many, walking is the only viable way to get out of lower Manhattan, with public transportation at a near standstill.

The spooky pre-Halloween vibe was perpetuated in the Lower East Side by shops and bodegas that were open for business but totally dark inside. Katz’s Deli, a New York icon, burnishes a sign announcing it’s open – but that it doesn’t have power and, no, you can’t use its restroom.

With nothing to do inside, residents flock to the streets, chatting with their neighbors and walking aimlessly, all with a restless air that reminds me of a post-apocalyptic movie scene. Street lamps are dark at night, and the lack of traffic lights means policemen are directing traffic at crowded intersections. Cars are fending for themselves at mid-sized intersections.

The disquieting restlessness feels like the quiet before a storm of its own. On Halloween, of all nights, I can’t decide whether this is particularly appropriate, or especially haunting.

[Photo credit: Allison Kade]