As Superstorm Sandy created havoc across the eastern seaboard, Greg Gladwell, CEO UK & Ireland at Crawford & Company found that his holiday in New York was not going according to plan.
In central Manhattan we were less than a mile from the mayhem. My family and I were in a hotel with most of the city shutting down 24 hours before Sandy struck. On the 37th floor of our hotel we could feel the winds on Monday night, although even in the peak of the hurricane we nipped outside and there was little sign of the devastation that happened elsewhere.
On Tuesday we went out at 8.30. Outside of the shelter of iconic tourist sites, the wind was strong and there were several trees down.The flood waters came and went rapidly and we did not see anything of note nearby. With everything shut though we came back to the hotel two hours later.
At noon we went out in search of food. Everyone else in NY had the same idea but with few places open, no bagel deliveries, no Starbucks or McDonald’s open, it took us hours to find somewhere to get some food, and although loss adjusters are used to living off meager rations, there was a sense of real concern. Some of the queues were 100 people deep. And it’s fair to say, I won’t try offering my 15-year-old growing son a yoghurt for lunch in a hurry again.
Well, we sometimes think sandbags are not the best solution, but believe me that seems light years ahead of the approach one K-mart store took to fertilizer bags to protect their store. Not one for us I think. The worst hit areas are being pumped out now and lots of debris has been cleared away. Still much to do. Power cuts are widespread which is hampering the return to work for New Yorkers and a return to normality for those that live in the city.
The kids are bored; we are overdosed on waffles and are hoping things open up soon so we can get back on track with our tourist break. That and getting timely flights home look a long shot right now. Fortunately I have a good travel insurance and decent connectivity.
Thursday, back to normality in NY City at 34th Street and upwards where there is power anyway. Really weird to look out from the Empire State Building across a city of 8m people and see large swathes of black where the power is out. 3 of the 7 subways that are flooded are back up and running, and the speed at which Manhattan Island is repairing itself is really impressive. The bagel bakeries seem to have caught up but oh no, no muffins in any of the Starbucks still.
Thursday night printing my boarding passes I conversed with another UK tourist. They were due to fly out on the Monday night of the hurricane and can not get out until Monday, one week later. Our flight tomorrow is all still on track. Big phew!
Friday 9.30 landed back in good old Blighty. The disruption for us was manageable, we had a great time, loved the US and will no doubt be back again soon. It’s a good way for families to keep bonding when the teenagers don’t want to bond.