Who knew traveling to New York City could be so harrowing?
It’s been over a week now, and the hype over Hurricane Sandy has dwindled in the media’s interests, but many of us in New York and elsewhere are still either recovering from the disaster or fervidly reorganizing our plans. I fall into the latter category. I had booked a New York hotel for a business meeting and was set to arrive in the Big Apple on October 29, THE DAY the hurricane was supposed to hit. I kept watching the news reports hoping that the monster storm would suddenly veer right and disappear into the Atlantic. I was prepped to go, hurricane or not. I wasn’t afraid of the storm and was thinking I might even get some great photos of the storm surge!
I followed the governor’s tweets on Twitter very carefully. You know — Twitter is an excellent place to get emergency updates. Every New York emergency, government, and transportation group has a Twitter account and they updated their news constantly. I was impressed.
Anyway, early Sunday morning the MTA (the transit authority that runs all public transit in the city) announced they were closing off all subways, commuter rails, and buses that evening at 7pm. This move essentially shut down the city, and I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I might have braved snapping photos out of a hurricane-stricken hotel room but there was NO WAY I was walking from Penn Station to Soho in a hurricane. Later that evening, AMTRAK announced they were closing all rail lines to NYC and that was that. I was disappointed. I like traveling to New York City and I had plans to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a place I used to frequent as a young student but haven’t been there in 30 years.
Oh well. I’m rather glad I didn’t go (and my family is elated). The storm surge was greater than anyone anticipated, and the waters rose — what was it? — 14 feet? Salty sea plunged into the subway tunnels, and the city is still without electricity in some areas. New Jersey fared even worse. So I probably would have been stuck in the city for a week, not the extra day or two I thought.
There’s talk that the city will have to take a good look at their infrastructure (it’s over 100 years old) and maybe even rebuild everything. These kinds of storms are occurring too often these days as the hurricane patterns seem to be taking a more north-easterly direction now. New York and New Jersey are very unprepared for this type of weather — they have no levees, no flood gates, nothing. The hotels and resorts and tourist attractions sit mere yards away from the lapping cold waters of the Atlantic.
As for me, I will return in the near future. New York wastes no time in recovering, and the MTA and AMTRAK have already re-opened sections of track to keep the commuters moving. As for me, my meeting will be rescheduled (soon, I hope!) but I wonder how much of New York will be operational by then…