Hurricane Irene

The City That Never Sleeps Takes a Nap they said — and it was true. In preparation for Hurricane Irene this weekend, the subways and buses stopped running at noon on Saturday leaving New Yorkers to rely on cabs or their own two feet to get anywhere. I was apartment sitting for JK in Little Italy again, and though I could have chosen to weather out the storm in my own apartment I figured my roommate and my landlords would be around to keep an eye on things while I would be the only one to make sure things stayed calm at JKs. She called from Shanghai on Friday evening while I was at Rockwood Stage 2 seeing Nat Osborn and Lyle Divinsky put on another incredible show. What’s going on, JK asked, they’re saying people are evacuating? Are you going somewhere? And I reassured her that while some in low-lying areas close to the water were being asked or told to evacuate, her apartment was not in an evacuation zone and would be fine, and that I would be as well. Regardless of being in a safe zone, I still had a couple of things to do to prepare the apartment for the storm — bringing the plants in from the terrace, mainly, and a clothes rack of coats up from the storage unit in the event that it flooded.

Saturday morning I got up early and made a trip to the grocery store up Mulberry Street to beat the inevitable rush of people stocking up on non-perishables for the threatened days without power to come. I have to say I didn’t do so well in the non-perishables department. I was thinking more health-consciously, and so picked up a decent amount of fruit and greens, the idea being I didn’t have to cook the greens, and that fruit lasts at least a couple of days. I also indulged in a baguette and a wedge of brie, some pita bread and hummus, and a couple of sirloin tips — in the event I was still able to cook.

In any case, after stowing the groceries in their proper place, I took a stroll around SoHo to see who was still out and about. Broadway, a street that in its SoHo glory is usually crammed full of tourists and a few New Yorkers getting their shopping on, was completely empty. Houston was mostly deserted. It was a little creepy, a little like a movie, and I headed back to the apartment pretty quickly — one of the things I love about this city is the bustle of people and cars, and to see it so quiet was a little disturbing.

Some stores taped their windows and sandbagged their front doors. Others were still open, flashing sale signs and hoping to snag the few who were still trudging about. Most restaurants, coffee shops, and bars were closed with clever signs announcing that they would re-open after the storm had passed. Spring Street seemed alive and well, though, ever the trooper.

In the end it wasn’t as bad as we all might have expected. Twitter and Facebook were filled with comments about how lame Irene was, how weak-sauce, how disappointing. Very New York, I suppose, to be upset that a storm with such mild repercussions could faze us, but I’m honestly so grateful that it was so mild, because it could have been a lot worse. With 16,000 on Long Island left without power, and some pretty major flooding in parts of Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, Irene didn’t affect New York as much as our Southern Eastern Seaboard neighbors, North Carolina and Virginia. I feel for them and the damage from which they will have to recover.

That I was able to sleep through the worst of it says a lot, and again makes me feel lucky to be a New Yorker. In the city that never sleeps, as I say, sometimes you don’t either — unless a hurricane and Bloomberg shut down the city and forces you both to catch up on some sleep.

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