Hurricane Sandy: New York’s Fright Night

New York celebrated Halloween last Wednesday and the scariest thing wandering the streets was the knowledge that Hurricane Sandy stole half of the city’s light and the entire city’s subway service.

The megacity that never sleeps had become a city with one eye closed and everyone was wondering when the NoDoze would arrive.

Since the time of Edison, most people who find themselves in a place without electricity try to go somewhere else but even that proved to be a feat that all of New York struggled with, including the six year old Supermans.

Buses were the only form of public transport, and transport in general was barely moving. As a resident of Canberra, stand-still traffic was a clear sign that I was very far from the nation’s capital.

People move to New York City to go places but those aspirations became impossible in a very literal sense. Vehicles beeped their horns in the hope that it would part the traffic that occupied the city. It obviously did not work. Google Maps predicted it would take 35 minutes to travel the 6 kilometres journey to my front door and it was wrong by 3 hours.

The bus ride was free but the only service it provided was a complimentary, warm, inanimate place to sit. The Metropolitan Museum offered the same service, except it was not boring and you could leave whenever you wanted.

The fact that the Met and anything else showed movement at all was still a Halloween miracle. On Monday night, the city became a gigantic public swimming pool and just 36 hours later there were restaurants, street vendors and investment bankers filling the city and seeking a profit.  New York had already begun showing emblems of its former self.

For those uptown, life went on mostly as usual, with the exception of a few tree branches. People who lived downtown were still without power.

Residents of lower Manhattan were in search of a warm shower, news and a torch. Those seeking the latter were not in luck, – flashlights went from $3 to $18 overnight – light had become precious commodity.

Anyone that wanted to emerge from his or her apartment unscathed and with proper make-up was forced to cough up with the cash. Anyone that wanted to partake in Halloween with a bruised Courtney Love guise could keep his or her $18.

Power is expected to return to lower Manhattan by Saturday – in more ways than one and some sections of the subway will return to life tomorrow.

Lower Manhattan is not one of those sections.

It is unlikely that the Mass Transport Authority is conspiring against downtown Manhattan but there are obvious merits to keeping the lawless people who have not showered inside their dark, secluded homes.

(Image: Iwan Baan/New York Magazine)