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Hurricane Sandy

An Experience With Hurricane Sandy – Part 3

Posted in calamity, experience, Hurricane Sandy, JFK, NYC, personal, storm, travel, USA, weather
on November 8, 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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An Experience With Hurricane Sandy – Part 2

Posted in calamity, experience, Hurricane Sandy, NYC, personal, travel woes, weather
on November 7, 2012

My cousin’s place in Brooklyn was several blocks away from the waterfront. However, my cousin who has been in NY for the last 20+ years has never experienced worry and panic. This incoming hurricane was touted as the perfect storm, the one that would wreak havoc and casualties at its wake. True enough, a score of people in Haiti died because of Hurricane Sandy and the East Coast was bracing its tremendous and catastrophic impact on the highly populated NYC. We were already praying really hard that the communication lines and electrical supply would not be disrupted because it would be hard to keep tabs if we lose the power.

Some of my cousin’s neighbors already evacuated the evening of 27th. They were probably scared and in search of higher grounds. The wind was furiously blowing. It was very cold with less rain but more of some serious wind punch. The sky was an ominous shade of dark gray even when it was only 6pm. And the streets were empty. My cousin had briefed us on the possibility of mandatory evacuation so we kept our luggages ready just in case we had to leave for higher grounds.

Projection of the travel path of Hurricane Sandy initially showed NYC as part of the entry of landfall. However, towards the end of the day and early morning of 28th, it had moved towards New Jersey’s coastline. Gov. Cuomo. of NYC announced the suspension of all mass transit including buses on the 28th at exactly 7p.m.  My husband and daughter were still in Manhattan meeting with distant relatives and shopping for some stuff to bring home, not wary of the looming danger of the approaching hurricane.  Thank goodness they got home around 3 pm before the subway got congested. Another problem presented though, we were stuck in NYC! For how long, we really couldn’t tell.

So, come 28 October evening around 8pm, with a gust of 80-mph (from 90-mph clocked earlier), Hurricane Sandy hit Atlantic City in New Jersey. The Frankenstorm whipped surge of water in the Jersey shores and other low-lying and near the water areas in NYC like Lower Manhattan, Battery Park, Long Island Sound.

In NYC, Lower Manhattan got inundated and subway stations were not spared prompting the disruption of electrical power lines in the area.  Some areas in Brooklyn experienced power outage too. Several blocks from my cousin’s place were in the dark and I am very thankful that my cousin’s block in the 65th St. were spared. Most grocery marts have empty shelves. We were lucky enough to salvage some bread and canned goods in the nearby Walgreens as it was still stocked with water, soda and other ready-to-eat food.

Aside from the storm, a fire broke-out in the neighborhood of Breezy Point in Queens, burning hundreds of properties down to the ground.  Most of the residents have already evacuated so the area turned out to be an empty, smoke-filled community.

Flights were cancelled for both international and domestic. La Guardia, JFK and Newark airports had been shut as runways became flooded. We were stuck in NYC because of Hurricane Sandy and I was not very happy about it.

The storm has passed. We checked out the neighborhood on 30 Oct. and thankful that aside from fallen trees, damaged cars and slight damage to properties; there were no casualties around the vicinity of my cousin’s place. We saw part of the clear, blue sky peeping through the clouds on Tuesday morning. I am just happy that the hurdle through the Hurricane Sandy is over. However, people who lost their properties and probably even lost some of their loved ones in the hard-hit areas of New Jersey and other nearby states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy are still reeling up to this time.

(The pictures above were taken near by cousin’s house in Brooklyn. We’re glad it was just property damage and no report on lost life.)

— to be continued —
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An Experience with Hurricane Sandy – Part 1

Posted in Hurricane Sandy, personal, season, weather
on November 6, 2012

I have been traveling for a long time now. I have experienced getting bumped off, waiting on the boarding gate for a seat, sleeping in the airport with a child in tow in a far away land, getting denied boarding, and even missing a flight and having mishaps in hotel accommodations. I think I have experienced the common things most travelers experience in their travels once in their lives. However, nothing beats the experience you have with Mother Earth’s fury. I am not exaggerating but I felt scared for our lives for the first time. This recent brush with Hurricane Sandy is something I will never, ever forget.

October 25th was our flight to NYC. As usual, no hiccups when we got there. I have been checking the weather forecast several days before we left Dubai so we would know what type of clothing to bring. I also heard of some weather disturbance in the Caribbean areas and little did I know that “that” particular “weather disturbance” was Hurricane Sandy in the making.

So, off we went to NYC. I told myself I deserved that weekend break because I had a month-long work-related stress to shake off my system. We were surprised how gloomy NYC was when we arrived on the 25th of October. We thought it was just because the Autumn season had set in. As soon as we arrived in my cousin’s place in Brooklyn, I hit the snooze button and dozed. We went to Manhattan on the 26th to celebrate my cousin’s birthday and check out stuff at nearby favorite hang-outs while nursing a terrible cough, colds and a recurring headache. I told myself, I had to at least make the most out of this short weekend getaway. I still didn’t know there was a bigger problem to deal with in the coming days.

The news of Hurricane Sandy became very prominent on the 27th of October as it was also expected to collide with the wintry storm from the Western US. I only came to know about this when I heard some shop tellers in the nearby mart that they were being prepared for evacuation for the incoming hurricane. I was baffled and thought of the “weather disturbance” which recently brewed in the Caribbean areas. My cousin also confirmed about the incoming “monster” hurricane when the presiding priest in the mass told the congregation to take shelter on higher grounds and be careful because of the incoming hurricane – the hurricane that would soon be famously known as Sandy, the “perfect storm” or the “Frankenstorm.”

I went home right away and turned the TV on. And most TV stations were talking about the big storm that was about to hit NYC the next day which was 28th of October. The projection puts New York in the path of destruction. It was expected to make landfall around the evening so everyone in the low-lying areas and near the waterways were requested to evacuate as a mandatory precaution. And as for us in Brooklyn where my cousin stayed, we have yet to find that out.

— to be continued —
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Stranded in NYC

Posted in airlines, fall season, flights, Hurricane Sandy, NYC, personal, storm, vacation, weather
on October 29, 2012

Who would have thought that this vacation will turn out scary and worrisome. I’ve checked the weather system few days before we arrived here in NYC last Thursday. We’re a bit surprised how Hurricane Sandy turned it direction towards East Coast. We’re expecting landfall anytime soon and we’re really praying it will not be devastating as what’s reported in the news.

We were scheduled to leave on 30 October but decided to cut it short. However, just when we decided to leave a day early, the airline cancelled the flights until 30 October. Now, we’re stranded here but thankful that we’re staying in my cousin’s house in Brooklyn. So far, the wind is gusty and really cold and also praying that the electricity will not be interrupted as this is our lifeline to communicate and get feeds from the storm and travel advisory.

I am hoping and praying this hurricane will come to pass really soon. We all just want to go home now.

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