Hurricane Sandy

Joan V.


           “There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean.” Said Peter Sandoneno. I know if I had a boat in front of my house I be surprised. How would you feel if you saw a boat in front of your house?

         First the calm before the storm was much too calm, which should have been a clue. Forecasters had been talking about a potential Halloween hurricane—the Frankenstorm was its ­headline-ready name—for two weeks. They thought it might be bigger than the hurricane of 1938; its barometric pressure was already a few ticks lower. The twist about this one, endlessly dissected, was that it was actually going to be two storms: Sandy would head north and encounter another weather system coming down from the northeast, a bank shot that would send the storm directly at New Jersey and a surge straight into the harbor, which is a natural funnel—New York’s own perfect storm.

         Then the subway was shut down early on Sunday night, more than 24 hours before expected landfall, and Mayor Bloomberg, a reborn weather alarmist after the 2010 blizzard, canceled school and told people to read a good book. Monday felt like Sunday on Seconal. For entertainment, we had breathless newscasters standing in puddles in their wet-weather gear, heralding the Storm of the Century that no one believed would really happen.  

          Finally then it started. It hit New York first out in the boroughs, a fourteen-foot surge pushing into the swampy lowlands of Staten Island, floating houses off their foundations, flooding people’s cars before they realized they were in danger. At Breezy Point, a fire had started at seven with the tide rising. In Red Hook, the water had crested the bank that afternoon, making no exceptions, swamping the housing projects and the Fairway and the artisans’ studios with six feet of water.