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Life in Manhattan with Hurricane Sandy

October 31, 2012

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From our 14th Floor appartment with its original draughty 1920’s windows, it felt like a strong winter storm in Dalkey. As Sandy ramped up on Monday afternoon, the streets slowly emptied and there was a crush for last-minute emergency supplies by anxious Manhattanites in our local wine shop.

Here in the Upper West Side, the lights flickered a few times as the storm advanced, making us scurry to find some candles, but we didn’t need them. Instead we watched on television half of a metropolis submerge and civilisation’s tenuous grip on nature slip. Manhattan was suddenly entirely island, disconnected by bridge or tunnel from the mainland. 

Outside the sky lit up in the west from time to time in  strangely bottom-up and spherically-shaped lightning flashes, but no sound followed. Turns out that these were electrical substations blowing up over in New Jersey. 

Some windows in our appartment block had blown out, Chris the doorman told us, and outside a few large trees lay splintered across pavements. But by the afternoon, the streets of the upper west side had a Christmas-like party atmosphere as  dogs, children and adults filled bars and cafes, enjoying a free holiday. 

But then there was silence from various friends and colleagues, some  just a couple of miles from here, suddenly electronically severed as cellphone networks ceased working in some areas and power cuts plunged half of this crowded island into a medieval state. 

Just now, for the first time since last week, a blade of sunshine has struck the Columbia campus, only to be snuffed out by a surly black camp-follower cloud of Sandy. 

But strangely little conversation about global warming – only the New York Times discussing it. Two surges in such a short time. Global warming is suddenly very real for the developed world.

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