Après le déluge

TODAY MY DAUGHTER and I brushed our teeth with real, running water. It was heaven.

Hurricane Sandy killed people and destroyed homes in New York and New Jersey. As a sideline, it left everyone in Manhattan below 39th Street without electric power. That means no elevator service in high-rise apartment buildings. No modem, no Wi-Fi, no charge for mobile devices—and almost no cellular access from AT&T or Verizon. There are no lights, there is no heat, and—if you live above the sixth floor in an apartment building (as we do)—there is no running water.

Which means no showers, no baths, no coffee, and no flushing toilets.

Con Edison says it will be days before power is restored. I think they’re being optimistic. Cleaning up after a disaster of this magnitude is a job for heroes. Repairing the power grid for five water-damaged boroughs of New York is a task for wizards.

So here is the little miracle:

There is a block on Madison Avenue below 39th Street that has power. My studio is located on that block. Electric power and internet access are working at the studio. My daughter, her mother and I have trudged here and temporarily set up camp. We brushed our teeth. We made espresso. We responded to days-old messages (messages our overtaxed cellular services could not deliver). My daughter camped out on her mother’s jacket and watched PBS Kids on an iPad.

The bliss of normality, if only for a few hours. Gratitude for the things we take for granted. Fresh clean water for a child’s toothbrush. The internet. The ability to contact friends.

13 thoughts on “Après le déluge”

  1. A resemblance of normal is all you can ask for at times like these. May the lights come back on for you soon. Prayers for a quick recovery from Gulf Coast Texas.

  2. I was in a hotel on 35th st (Herald Sq) through the storm, and had Verizon 4G LTE the entire time! Now, I could write pages about what I *dislike* about VZW, but I can’t complain about their service during Sandy! FWIW, my hotel also had power and water during my entire stay, so I accomplished TONS of work from Sunday through Tuesday, uploading and downloading whatever I needed, whenever I needed to!

    Glad to know that you and yours survived the storm!

  3. I’ve experienced the fload twice. Its something hard to describe. No gas no electricity no heating and it was a cold november. The destruction. I remember how some warm soup provided by a neighbor seemed amazing in its simplicity. My words might seem rhetorical but I guess these events help us to remember what really matters to us, how we get easily distracted by too many things, every day.
    I’m glad you and your family are well and have… yes, running water.

  4. Thank you. We have running water in the studio but not at home yet. Today we went to a spa that was open and had electricity. Ava and I got manicures and Ava’s mom had a short back rub. It was heaven.

  5. Jeffrey,
    very relieved to hear you and your family are safe – very glad you can see a positive angle in these hard times.

    Stay safe & take care of yourself x

  6. My family went through Hurricane Rita here in Houston. It knocked out my parent’s power for almost two weeks. No A/C in the heat, no refrigeration of food, no gasoline for our vehicles. The only thing we had was each other and time. My parents’ neighborhood had nightly BBQs with the whole block to get rid of the meat before it spoiled. People shared axes and trash bags, saws and loppers, and cleared downed trees and debris from yards and roads (suburban hazards).

    There is nothing like that first glass of running water, or that lamp turning on, that brings back that normalcy.

    But that “19th Century” amount of time and attention that we had with one another, without distraction, clutter, or backlit screens- that was something I will never forget. You got each other in these hard moments.

  7. Good to hear that things are somewhat bearable. The degree of destruction in some communities is unbelievable. Still, the vast majority of Long Islanders are without electricity. Near the city, in Long Beach – I believe you’ve vacationed there – I can’t believe what’s happened. Long Beach’s 3 mile boardwalk trashed. Every basement in town flooded – but residents can’t even go there yet because mandatory evac is STILL in effect, that’s how screwed up the place is. But that’s light damage compared to many communities in New Jersey. Total devastation. Even now, most of Long Island still doesn’t have electricity. Been livin’ and workin’ in New York for more years than I want to think about, and this is the worst storm I’ve ever seen in terms of damage that will take years to repair. When I saw those pics of downtown Manhattan and the Battery – overrun with sea-water! – I knew our goose was cooked. The city will rebound fast. But nearby there is much human suffering. Millions of people seriously effected. Hundreds of thousands lost it all. Humbling as hell.

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