Hurricane Sandy

New York, NY, USA

Under the FDR

View towards the Manhattan Bridge

New York, NY, USA

06:45 No sign of any storm yet. The streets are dry, and the air is calm.

07:15 Light rain. The air smells fresh, and there are gusts of wind. There's very little traffic on Clinton Street: the usual long line of cars turning off the Williamsburg Bridge and heading north up Clinton is absent this morning. Trash cans on the street have been emptied and turned upside down. There's still plenty of other stuff that's going to fly around if a big wind hits, though.

10:10 Under the FDR, two police cars are pulled up close to the water, lights flashing. The cops are all outside, taking pictures of the East River with their iPhones. The river is about six inches below the walkway here; a little further on, waves are breaking against the railings, sending up sheets of spray.

10:20 Another police car pulls onto South Street, siren and lights on. The driver's voice comes over the loudspeakers. "The waterfront is closed. Move away from the water. The waterfront is closed."

10:30 Battery Park is full of news crews, apparently there to do stand-ups against the backdrop of the choppy grey waters of New York Harbor and mist-wrapped Liberty Island. The walkway by the water's edge is under an inch or two of water, and every minute or so a wave sends more water foaming up the steps.

10:50 First casualty of Hurricane Sandy: a woman's baseball cap blows off her head and into the East River.

14:20 The wind is visibly picking up, trees outside my window thrashing back and forth. Gusts of wind push the puddles of water on the flat roof of the schoolhouse around.

14:50 Robocall from ConEd, saying that they may need to turn off power to our area, due to damage caused by flooding.

16:30 Powerful gusts. Trees swaying, sound of objects being blown about outside.

17:20 Lots of sirens outside, and lots of wind. At times it's hard to tell the sirens from the noise of the wind.

17:40 Half a tree has come down outside a building on Houston Street. A girl in a red sweatshirt stares at it. "How the fuck'm I gonna get in the house?" she says. "Chainsaw?" I suggest, not too helpfully.

17:50 On Baruch Drive, two NYPD ESU are cutting up a fallen tree with a chainsaw and a Sawzall. The tree has landed across the hood of a car and is blocking most of the road. "You guys wanna give us a hand?" says one of the cops, so I spend the next five minutes helping drag cut-up branches out of the road.

18:00 The entrance to East River Park is closed off with caution tape and the trees along the roadway are swaying and creaking. My guess is that some of them aren't going to last the hour, let alone the night.

18:05 The gusts are now strong enough that I actually stagger when they hit me. If the wind picks up much more, it'll start knocking people over.

18:10 As I get home, the building manager is taking his dog out for a walk. If he puts a leash on it, he'll be able to fly it like a kite.

18:50 Was that lightning?

18:51 Probably not. Apparently, hurricanes can have lightning, but rarely do. I now worry that it might have been my lights flickering, in anticipation of ConEd making good on their threat to cut us off.

17:25 Getting noisy out there again.

20:05 Weather service reporting 70-90mph gusts; 100mph gust recorded uptown. Nearby wind sounds are getting louder.

20:10 Strange low sound from outside. Lights dim. Internet connection dies.

20:25 Going to drink soup. And possibly something stronger as well. Hand my roommate a flashlight, saying "Here, you'll need this if they cut the power." He looks unconvinced.

20:35 The lights go out and stay out. F., our neighbor, says that he was outside and saw the clouds overhead lit green briefly before the power cut out.

21:30 Drinking wine with F. and his roommate. F.'s young son is bored of sitting in the dark, and wants to play videogames on his phone. F. explains that he needs to keep the phone charged. The boy looks affronted.