New Yorkers Pulling Together After Sandy – My Story
Jamie Reynolds is a New Yorker and Territory Manager for LiquidSpace. She’s living and working in Manhattan and helping the city recover from Sandy.
I want to take a moment to share my Sandy experience from Manhattan. First, I feel very fortunate in this whole situation. I only lost power, heat and water. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a lot more. NYC is in my thoughts and prayers everyday.
I knew the storm was coming Tuesday. What I didn’t know was whether it was going to be another in-and-out like Irene or one for the books.
On Monday, I went to visit my local Duane Reade to get batteries and candles. Of course everything was gone already! Then I headed off to my grocery store & local deli to buy them out of water.
Tuesday, the day of the storm, I filled the bathtub with water, along with every pot and pan I had in the apartment. With everything ready, I threw a small flashlight in my purse and left the building. I took the elevator down.
People from my neighborhood were gathering at Gramercy Park Bar for the storm. As Sandy started to turn it up, people were talking about the storm, their preparations, and how to get a toilet to work when the water’s off. My “aunt” and I braved three blocks in the storm to get her back home. We were getting tossed about in the wind and had to dodge branches blowing down the street. Then some guys over there helped me make it back. It felt like community, with people helping their neighbors get last-minute stuff done and stay safe.
When the power finally went out, it happened, literally, with a huge “BANG!” ConEdison had blown up on 14th Street. ConEdision is the largest supplier of New York’s electricity, when it’s on. With the lights out it was eery. It was complete darkness, which is hard to imagine in a city until it happens.
As the night wore on, more neighbors were coming together at the local bars. No one wanted to walk up to their apartments more often than they had to so we waited it out together. Just a few local businesses were able to stay open for the community. We were all truly grateful for that.
My phone would go in and out of service. Every time it would go live again, it lit up with text messages, emails and voicemails from friends and family in Hershey, PA all the way to California. It gave me a needed sense of comfort.
For me, my biggest concerns were getting up 19 floors to my apartment without an elevator and making sure I had enough battery life on my cell phone to stay in touch with my family and work. At some point in the darkness, my husband and I headed for the stairs. Glad I packed my flashlight.
Wednesday morning, everybody headed to midtown above 40th street for power or to just use a bathroom. Work was the last thing on everyone’s mind. The focus was on recharging your cell and finding somewhere to eat.
The restaurants were full of refugees. Everyone had an overnight bag and waited in long lines to sit down. The wait took hours. Inside, there was a cell phone plugged into every outlet.
By Thursday I was back to work. I found a business center at 47th and 6th Ave called OfficeLinks. They had power but no heat! I was grateful to just have an office to work in at all. I’m sure I was not the only New Yorker working with no heat. Even our apartments had no heat. I just added a few layers from my overnight bag.
I spent the next day in the 2nd floor lobby of the Hyatt on 48th and Lexington. I felt at home there. I met so many other displaced people working in the lobby. One gentleman turned out to be a neighbor from my neck of the woods who showed up with his 6-month old and a nanny. He has a new startup and he’d had his entire team of 10 in the lobby the day before. He gave them Friday off.
Two downtown companies were also working at the hotel. They were running operations out of the Hyatt boardrooms with no idea when they’d have power back at their offices. With a shrug they said, “The show must go on.”
The feeling in the city is UNITED. Everyone is coming together to help one another. I am making it my mission to help others around me not only with food and clothing but helping them get back to work.
It will be a while in some places before we get back to normal. Power is coming on, but commuter lines are not all open yet and the clean up is going to take a while still. If you need a place to get some work done for a few days (or a few hours) we can help you find something that’s open and available.
We are working to find more spaces where people can plug in and connect. In the meantime, check these links below to see what’s currently available in your area:
New York City
You can also check out this resource for coworking spaces in your area
I’m just trying to get back to my day to day. Now the focus is on getting back to work and what I can do to help my city. I’m a proud New Yorker and this experience just makes me love my city even more.