It’s eerily quiet now in New York City. Always, there are cars roaring past, sirens screeching, people shouting, subway cars loudly careening down tunnels, etc. But now everything is still, and just about everyone inside.
On Sunday, the city began preparing in earnest. Long lines of people clutching water and supplies wound through grocery stores. (In the case of Trader Joe’s – make your own joke about Manhattan eating habits – the line to enter went down to the end of the block.) All the city’s Starbuckses shuttered in the afternoon. A friend e-mailed his apartment was available for those in more precarious areas to crash at and offered this amenity: “good looting access to supermarkets and high-end audio equipment stores.” And when I caught a subway train a couple of hours before the entire system ceased operations, there were other people with suitcases, including a girl who balanced a full case of Corona atop her rolling suitcase.
Yesterday, I – like many across New York – found out more by media than by seeing. The neighborhood I was in didn’t flood, but beginning in the afternoon, wind howled and whistled about our building, and sometimes blew out fierce gusts that rattled the windows. At night, the lights began occasionally flickering, but thankfully, the power stayed on. Everyone stayed indoors. At one point, my friend and I were startled to hear a car’s rumbling, breaking the total surreal peace of the neighborhood. And we couldn’t stop looking at the photos. How were these neighborhoods we knew now immersed in water, these streets we’d regularly trekked across suddenly roaring rivers? How could one of the major hospitals be facing flooding and be evacuating people?
New York is a city that never stops. You can hop off the subway at four in the morning, and still see people about, still see cabs sliding down the streets, still see lights on. But now, with much of the city powerless and everyone stilled by the orders to stay indoors and the subway closed, it’s stopped. And has been since Sunday night.