Storm's ferocity startles Red Hook resident
Longtime New Yorkers who have lived through all manner of disasters were taken aback by the ferocity of Sandy, which officials said caused record damage in the city.
In the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, wide avenues became debris-littered lakes. At LaGuardia Airport in Queens, stranded travelers peered out at runways that looked more like rivers. And in midtown Manhattan, which usually bustles on any given night, eateries Tuesday were unusually busy feeding residents who had nowhere else to go.
Vivian Slaughter, 81, has lived in Red Hook all her life and said she's never seen anything like Monday's storm surge, which sent water gushing down her street and into her home.
"The water was as high as this pole," said Slaughter, pointing to the "No Parking" sign in front if her house. "I'm down here all my life and I've never seen water like that."
She stood in the doorway of the home where she has lived for the past quarter-century and surveyed the block. A guard post from the Fairway supermarket three blocks away lay on its side nearby, having floated down when the water rolled in before 7 p.m. Monday and then stayed on the ground like a beached wreck when the water receded hours later.
Slaughter was one of many who did not heed authorities' warnings to evacuate from flood-prone areas. Instead, she watched the drama from her second-floor window.
"You can't imagine how fast this all happened," she said.
Thankful in Carroll Gardens
Harold Butler, one of dozens of people out surveying the scene in the neighborhood, chose to weather the storm at a friend's home in Carroll Gardens. He said he was sorry to see some neighbors' homes were damaged, but that he was lucky to find his own home undamaged.
"Fortunately our place was spared," he said.
The scene in Fort Greene
In Fort Greene, cars maneuvered around fallen tree limbs and tires crunched over the branch-covered pavement. By Brooklyn Bridge Park, workers tried to right a chain-link construction site fence that had blown over. At intersections throughout the borough, confused drivers stopped at traffic lights that had been twisted in the wind, trying to figure out which direction had the right of way.
Travelers stalled at LaGuardia
At LaGuardia, travelers dozed on cots overlooking a panoramic window that shows the water that cleared the walls between the airport and Flushing Bay.
They waited for word on when they would be able to leave the city, as the airport was closed because the runway was flooded.
Some travelers, like Vancouver residents Kathy Hartley and Debbie Hrushowy, remained hopeful.
"We just thought we'd sit it out," said Hrushowy, a cup of coffee in her hand, adding that they were supposed to fly home Monday afternoon and are now scheduled to leave Wednesday.
The pair said the airport had been very accommodating, but no airline personnel had been around to provide them with food vouchers. All ticket booths were closed, and much of the airport was dark. The airport still had power, though one traveler said televisions were shut off.
Broad Channel tackles storm damage
All across the insular neighborhood of Broad Channel, a low bungalow community that sits on an island in Jamaica Bay, the sound of generators hummed throughout the afternoon, as residents tried to undo the worst of a storm the likes of which had not been seen during most of their lifetimes.
The tidal surge had sent more than 4 feet of water onto Cross Bay Boulevard, the only road into and out of Broad Channel, which remained without electric power as of late Tuesday afternoon.
At the home of Frank Scafo and Debbie Davino, a refrigerator had floated away from the wall and came to rest near their dining table. Bits of their lives lay in soggy heaps everywhere.
"There's my career," said Davino, a jewelry maker, pointing to bags of beads, string and assorted jewelry-making equipment that had been swept from a work table and lay near her front door.
All along Broad Channel's main drag, sidewalks were blocked by debris carried by the surge.
Long Island City assesses Sandy's damage
The water had receded from the parks and streets of Long Island City Tuesday morning, but it left behind downed trees and cable and telephone wires and property damage. At the beloved Gantry State Park, a mural made by students at PS 78 lay in pieces, destroyed by water and wind.
But throughout the neighborhood, there were signs people were trying to resume work and life. A mail carrier said no mail was going in or out but United Parcel Service worker Nelson Brizan said he was already trying to start delivering packages again Tuesday. The Brooklyn resident drove to his UPS office in Long Island City but said he wasn't sure there would be packages to deliver.
"It'll be hard but we are going to do it." he said of resuming UPS delivery. "It goes on."
Feeling cut off in Chelsea
In the Chelsea section of Manhattan, with streetlights and power out, residents roamed their streets hunting for information and, with no TV or Internet, they felt cut off.
Moms Tanya Sarbera and Marnee Spiere were out with their children, struggling across a street with no traffic lights, looking for an old portable radio they could use to tune in for any information. They found a boom box.
"We had to go old school," Spiere said.
Business brisk at midtown eateries
At restaurants in midtown, at the edge of a virtual no man's land created by the blackout, business was brisk. Lines stretched across the block on Eighth Avenue near 35th Street at the Tick Tock Diner and La Famiglia Pizzeria, and tables were packed at Cooper Tavern.
Alex Caiola, 24, of the Financial District, and her friend Matt Donnelly, 26, walked from his home in the West Village. They had not eaten anything for hours, so when a pizza arrived at their table at Jack Doyle's restaurant and bar at 240 W. 35th St., they could not contain their relief.
"It feels so good," she said as she took a slice. "It was a lot of trial and tribulation getting here."
Donnelly said he was impressed with the amount of care that was given by the fancy restaurants since several nearby fast food chains had shut their doors.
Blamaid O'Hare, 28, a bartender at the eatery, was visibly overwhelmed handling multiple drinks among customers. Despite the overload, she said patrons have been patient and cooperative.
"They've been very understandable," she said just minutes before happy hour began.