Live-Blogging Hurricane Sandy

1:30am: One quick thing:

You can see at 4:50pm last evening I posted a Bill Maher one-liner about the Republican Party coming up with some way, any way to criticize Obama’s response even if it–nay, especially–if it’s blatantly contemptuous of the voting public’s intelligence and unhinged from the real world.  Well, here’s the director of FEMA under George Bush during Hurricane Katrina:

“One thing [President Obama’s]  gonna be asked is, why did he jump on [Hurricane Sandy] so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in … Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas? Why was this so quick? … At some point, somebody’s going to ask that question.”

And here is that same man to Cindy Taylor, FEMA’s deputy director of public affairs, during Hurricane Katrina:

“Can I quit now? Can I come home?”

And later, in a separate email:

“I’m trapped now, please rescue me.”

Wednesday, 1:21am: Went downtown and checked out some of the carnage.  It was weird to see New York at night with no lights.  It’s totally out of character for the city.  Still, the place was peaceable even if certain stretches of road felt dicey in the dark.  Highlights include: Seeing the collapsed facade with Anderson Cooper reporting from across the street, seeing the many rats running through projects along the East River, and seeing the collapsed crane from Columbus Circle on the taxi ride home.  I’ll have a few more points to make tomorrow, but for now I’m pretty tired and class is on for tomorrow.

3:01pm: A bit of political opportunism:

I’m about to head downtown for a bit of internal disaster tourism.  I will update as I can.

1:46pm: This pic was sent from Ben last night.  I guess the sound of the crane clanging against the scaffolding was “terrifying”:

And this one is from this afternoon, captioned, “Something you don’t see anymore.”1:35pm: Text from friend Ben Feibleman, who lives downtown:

It’s like The Walking Dead out here. There are hoards of people clumsily stumbling through the street looking for signal on their phones. And then when they see someone with a phone up to their ear, the horde converges to feed.

12:25pm: Update on my list from this morning:

  • The Battery flood gauge reported peak flooding of 13.88 feet.
  • NYU Hospital did in fact lose their primary and backup generator, forcing evacuation of over 200 patients, including the famed 20 babies in the neonatal care unit, four of them on respirators.   According to CBS News, the primary generator was on the roof but the fuel pump, situated on a lower floor, was destroyed by flooding.   The backup generator was on a lower floor and was itself disabled by flooding.  What did we learn?
  • Coney Island Hospital also lost power but did not evacuate because critical patients had wisely been relocated ahead of the storm.
  • LAT says that there were 33 fatalities in seven states, 10 of which were in New York City, with three of those ten being children. CNN is reporting 26 in the US and 15 in New York State.  Also from CNN…(weird WordPress formatting issue ahead)
    • 300 blood drives had to be canceled due to the storm, leading to a shortfall of almost 9000 units.  Donations are needed. American Red Cross donation site here (I just left an email to make an appointment). New York Blood Center here.
    • The New York City Service Center website is overwhelmed with offers to help, so please direct your offers to their Facebook page.
  • Some good pics of flooding here.
  • The Rockaway fire was still burning this morning. It destroyed an estimated 80 to 100 houses.
  • Tweeted pic of flooding up the stairwell to the third floor of a Staten Island home, with residents reportedly trapped inside:
  • It’s hard to find evidence that we were ever trapped on Manhattan.  I was piecing that together from several reports that various egress routes had been shut down. Newsday did assert as much:

Every path into and out of Manhattan was cut off Monday, including all bridges and tunnels, as well as trains and the subway system.

The airports and canals were also closed, so that would seem to be every legal way out of the city. The East River bridges have reopened but MTA bridges are still closed to all but emergency traffic.

5:47am: It strikes me that the point about all routes (bridges, tunnels, canals, and airports) into and out of the city being closed is the point of greatest import.  It’s the sort of thing you see in a fantasy disaster movie.  Now we’ll see what this city is really made of.

5:22am: Eh, I suppose I should make a list to keep the thoughts in my head organized for later.  If it kills you to read my notes, you can always Google the events while you wait for me to update:

  • Storm surges of 13.34 feet reported in Battery Park via Twitter
  • NYU Hospital loses their backup generator and has to evacuate over 200 patients, including 20 babies on battery-powered respirators
  • Five fatalities in the city, including a man in Queens who had a tree fall on his house
  • Massive flooding including the subway system (which a September report called a $55 billion disaster), Hoboken station, Stuy Town, parking garages that have cars floating up to the surface, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
  • What latest reports are calling a 6-alarm fire that is gutting an entire section of Queens because flooding stands between firefighters and access routes.  Wow, quick Google search brings up that six-alarm fire in Queens which has destroyed 50 houses, six-alarm fire at a Brooklyn factory, seven-alarm fire at a Brooklyn apartment, and six-alarm fire in a Bronx building.
  • Tweeted pic of flooding up the stairwell to the third floor of a Staten Island home, with residents reportedly trapped inside.
  • For a period of time, which may not yet be over, we were trapped on Manhattan with all bridges and tunnels shut down (there were a few tweets that only one tunnel was open but then I saw one saying that all routes were down).  This is what the state is for.

Tuesday, 5:02am: Can’t sleep.  I see on the web that a lot–much worse than anything I posted last night–has happened since my last update.  I’m too tired to get into it now but I’ll try to make a comprehensive sweep later in the morning.

7:20pm: Forging out into the storm to see what it’s like in my first hurricane.  Mike Bloomberg would be displeased, but then Mike Bloomberg can afford to experience this sort of thing in a simulator.

7pm: A building has reportedly collapsed at 8th Avenue and 14th Street, with people possibly trapped inside.  The collapse set off a 2-alarm response from FDNY.

6:06pm: I’m posting this now in anticipation of the electricity, and with it the internet router, going out:

5:52pm: The good mayor just noted on NYC local news that we have, so far, suffered no fatalities whatsoever as the worst of the storm hits the city.

5:42pm: Just saw the lights flicker. Reluctantly switching to my laptop, which I feel better about surging than my precious iMac. Also increasing booze consumption with the increasing realization that no more homework will be completed this day.

5:24pm: I just wanted to note that I grew up in a small Adirondack town where power outages were common.  Development is heavily restricted inside the park due to the “Forever Wild” clause of the state Constitution.  Therefore, the power lines are all above ground on old-fashioned telephone poles, where they are routinely severed by falling trees. So to everyone freaking out about the prospect of losing power: Chill the fuck out.  It’s not threatening unless the ambient temperature is cold enough to induce hypothermia.  Otherwise it’s just boring.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to public service institutions like hospitals, which have backup generators to keep life support systems running at all times.

5:23pm: A Facebook friend does, legitimately this time, report losing electricity in the city.  No word on what area she’s in.  If the liveblog goes down for a while, you’ll know why.

5:18pm: Probability of 50-knot windspeed upgraded to 71%:


5:14pm: Turns out that Louis Uccellini, environmental prediction chief for the NOAA, was the one to describe Sandy as the “worst-case scenario.”

5:08pm: Eric Holthaus at the Wall Street Journal asserts that the hurricane has sped up since the last landfall projections were published, with the upshot that storm surges and windspeed will likely be higher than we were told.  High rises above the tenth floor may be subject to 110 MPH winds.

5:03pm: Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan:

4:50pm: I’m a bit late in reposting this, but…

4:40pm: Turns out those murmured outages were internet and TV, not power.  The victims are Time Warner customers, so the outage may be due to the fact that Time Warner sucks balls, and not related to the hurricane.

4:29pm: Weather outside is now, finally, distinctly miserable.  There are steady gusts and intermittent rain where before it was pretty tame grey weather.

4:25pm: The situation continues to slide downhill in Atlantic City, where two of three city rescue trucks have been destroyed by water rescuing stragglers who refused the mandatory evacuation order.  The City is warning others that rescue will be impossible in a few hours’ time.  The Fire Department has already stopped responding to all calls in order and will prioritize their call response from here forward.

4:06pm: Weather Channel tracker shows Sandy just off the coast of Atlantic City, still going strong as a Cat-1 hurricane with 90 MPH winds. 85% of Atlantic City was said to be flooded this morning, with some calling it the worst storm in the city’s history.

3:51pm: I’m hearing murmurs from friends that their power is being cutoff in areas of Manhattan well north of the evacuation zones.  ConEd is considering a shutdown of lower Manhattan as far north as 34th street.

3:08pm: Looking at the last link I posted, I see that Governor Andrew Cuomo has deployed the National Guard to NYC and Long Island.

3:03pm: I was mistakenly informed about the location of the crane.  It is on top of a building on West 57th Street and 7th Avenue.

3:00pm: The crane on top of the still-under-construction Freedom Tower has partially collapsed.  The boom looks bent and warped as though it were made of rope. CBS video here.

2:10pm: Columbia University announces that classes are cancelled not just for today, but for tomorrow (Tuesday) also.  Those of you not able to relate to Columbia students will just have to trust that this is a pretty cool development.

12:16pm: NOAA’s 29th windspeed probability table drops the chance of hurricane-force winds right off the chart.  Chance of 50-knot windspeeds has bumped up to 58%:


Monday, 11:23am: Just waking up.  I hear heavy gusts outside, but nothing overly exciting yet.  I thought we’d be in the thick of it by now but news and weather forecasts give the impression that the worst is yet to come.  It appears that the storm has both picked up strength and not yet made landfall.  One headline called it the “worst-case scenario.”  Of course, the bulk of the fear is about coastal flooding.  Those of us well inland from the evacuation zones have little to worry about except the occasional tree branch.

Another article says that the storm has picked up a full 15 MPH in the past 12 hours.  Two sailors aboard a replica of the HMS Bounty are missing after all 14 crew abandoned the vessel off of North Carolina.  Since the storm will hit NYC at high tide, storm surges of 11 feet are possible.

9:10pm: No update from NOAA yet.  Weather Channel says that winds in NYC are 21 MPH with gusts to 28.  This pic is making the Facebook rounds in the vein of “First-World Problems”:

It’s funny, but of course what it overlooks is that New York City doesn’t have to worry about those other tasks largely due to the fact that it’s a highly developed, well-networked city with phenomenal trade and infrastructure.  Hurricane damage would have to reach massive proportions before NYC residents really had to worry about going without food or water long enough to starve.  And there’s no denying that hurricanes tend to lose force before reaching this far north (although climate change will perhaps change that).  And if work is canceled Monday and there’s nowhere else to go, what conceivable reason is there NOT to plan a hurricane party?!?

7:33pm: I was looking over my liveblog of the second Obama-Romney debate and realized from my writing that I must have been a few drinks in when I wrote it.

7:27pm: Still no swaying of the trees on the street outside my Harlem apartment.  The latest NOAA windspeed probability table shows an 87% chance of 34-knot windspeeds and a 27% chance of 50-knot windspeeds occurring in New York City between zero-hour and next Friday.  Only a 9% chance of 64-knot (75 MPH) hurricane force winds.  We have again been sold on the worst-case scenario.

Sunday, 4:55pm: In addition to working desperately to get some homework done while I’m in the ever-scarcer mood, I’m going to liveblog Hurricane Sandy.  I hope this year’s carnage gives me more to write about than did Irene.

When I heard that the NYC subways would shut down at 7pm tonight, I naturally assumed that Columbia would have to cancel classes for Monday.  For a while there I was concerned that they would fail to come through with the hookup since one would normally be informed of cancellation through the University emergency text message system.  Luckily, Facebook friends passed the word that a University-wide cancellation had been announced on the Columbia website.  The text message only came through several hours later.  Seeing as how texts are a far more efficient way to pass the word, I’m curious as to what caused the delay.  Perhaps we’ll never know…

The girlfriend, who took the bus up from DC for her birthday weekend, is now stuck here for the duration of the storm as her Megabus ticket and subsequent Amtrak ticket have been cancelled.  Fortunately, I found the nerve to brave the line at the wine store, so we’re all prepared:

The latest NOAA projections are for a 62% chance of hurricane-force winds (i.e., at least 74 MPH).  The Weather Channel’s storm tracker shows Sandy East of South Carolina with 75MPH winds. We’ll see how it plays out.


  1. […] From: Live-Blogging Hurricane Sandy « Jaylemeux […]

  2. […] my Hurricane Sandy liveblog, I casually asserted that “New York City doesn’t have to worry about those [shopping for dry goods and water, […]

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