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An Experience With Hurricane Sandy - Part 3

08 November 2012

We drove around town on 31 October to check the nearby areas in Brooklyn and Queens especially the ones battered by the water surge. Some of the areas didn't have power and the gas stations were closed. We had to look for an open gas station to fill up my cousin's distant relative's SUV. It took us half an hour to find an open gas station and thankfully, the line was just about to pile.

We headed to Roosevelt and on our way, we saw plenty of small boats washed in the middle of the parking lot of nearby commercial places.  The sidewalk were lined with fallen trees and debris from the storm. Sand and mud were on the side and even on the middle of the main thoroughfare. The water level was still high 2 days after Hurricane Sandy battered NYC and nearby states.

See that mound? That's sand near the highway going to Roosevelt. It was hard to snap pictures of other areas because we were moving.

Some of the bus operations resumed on the 29th in a limited scale. So, every passing bus we see are filled to the brim.  The subway opened on 31 Oct. in some parts of NYC but not Lower Manhattan due to the flood. Given the current situation around us, we were still left with uncertainties on when we could actually fly out of NYC.

We emailed our bosses about the situation as early as 28 of October because as soon as the flights were cancelled and the closure of airports and mass transit were declared, we knew for sure that we were going to wait the Hurricane out until everything became stable. That would be days!

So, as soon as the airports opened last 31 October, we booked our tickets with Delta Airlines from NYC to SFO. It was going to be a long flight from the East to the West but if it was the only way to get out of NYC then we were left with no choice but to do just that.

We left Brooklyn on 1 November around 4 a.m. The early drive to JFK Airport was a bit eerie. Some open gas stations have long queue of cars waiting to get their supply. JFK Airport was already open and we were glad to see many aircraft on the ground which was a complete contrast of the previous day when we drove around JFK Airport just to check. We only saw one Korean Air Cargo liner parked but no other aircraft was in sight last 31 Oct.

Our ordeal was not yet over. We were holding staff tickets so better pray that we get on board. Otherwise, we would have to wait for the next flight or the flight after that which would make us miss our flight back from SFO to DXB. We were already told in the counter that the flight was over-sold. I told the agent we didn't mind waiting. We would try our luck. So we waited until 6:00 a.m. and checked the board. Blessings of all blessings! We got cleared from the stand-by list so we are definitely flying out of NYC that day.

It was a 6-hours flight from NYC-SFO. I didn't even bother checking the snacks served. I just wanted to sleep and relax and pray that when we get to SFO, we would get a chance to board the SFO-DXB bound Emirates flight. Again, we were holding staff tickets so priority-wise we have the lowest.

We arrived in SFO around 10:05 a.m. few minutes ahead of time. We went to the international terminal as soon as we cleared our bags from the carousel. Everything was a blur from the time we got to the international terminal to the time we waited for our names to be called. Initially, there was a payload so we begged the kind Emirates Airline airport supervisor to request the payload to be lifted because there were available seats. We told him our situation and they knew that some staff stranded in NYC were flying to SFO to get back to Dubai. We were one of them. God is really good because he made some calls and next thing we knew, he told all the standby staff that we were all through in the flight.

Reaching for our  boarding pass was probably the cherry on top of the icing for our long and wearisome journey. I just didn't expect that my much awaited vacation would turn out like this. We were just glad that we were going home. I thought I would never say this but I kind of miss Dubai!

And finally, we arrived on 2 November in hot and humid Dubai but I won't complain about the weather anymore. Whatever weather we have here is fine by me!

So happy to see a patch of blue sky after the storm on the 30th of Oct.

The whole NYC trip we had recently is one in my greatest experience. I grew up in a place where typhoons and other natural calamities are regular occurrence but nothing prepares me in experiencing one of the worst storm/hurricane to hit the East Coast. At the same time, I am very happy that we are all safe and there is no damage to account for. However, the fear and uncertainties brought about by this experience is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

So, are we going back to NYC? Definitely! It's still my favorite go-to place. But, not soon. And next time, we will check the weather forecast around NYC, the nearby states and countries just to be sure.

Thank God we are home.

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