The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of unexpected activity. The New York City area was hit by a massive storm. The size of which no New Yorker expected to see in our area in our lifetimes: Hurricane Sandy.
I grew up in Greenwich Village + have been living back in the Village with my parents for the past 6 months so that I can save money for Taiwan. On Sunday, October 28, we closed The Mentee. I was flying high because I knew that I was doing great work and had received a stellar review from Ben Coleman on Theatre is Easy.
But our closing night celebrations were cut short when the MTA shut down subway service in preparation for the storm. All trains had to be moved to the highest possible sections of the train tunnels to incur as little damage to the system as possible in case the tunnels flooded (of which, seven tunnels did).
The storm was expected to hit Monday night, so we all hunkered down. Most taking the day off from work, scrambling to get last minute provisions + hunkering down just in case it would be a big one. The wind whipped all afternoon, actually ripping off sections of the scaffolding that was right outside of my second floor apartment windows when winds really picked up.
We had dinner at our neighbor, Ellen’s, and since we heard that ConEd might purposely shut down parts of Lower Manhattan’s power grid as a safety precaution, we walked the 8 flights down from her apartment to ours (no way would I be stuck in a powerless elevator with MY parents!!). Power went out at around 8:30pm at which point I went to sleep and slept through the height of the storm.
We didn’t realize that there had been an explosion at ConEd’s substation on East 14th street + the Village would be powerless from 8:30pm Monday night till 4:30am Saturday morning.
Without power, we had no way of understanding the true devastation that had hit Staten Island, South Brooklyn + Queens, Long Island, our neighbors in New Jersey + elsewhere along the coast.
I celebrated my Halloween birthday with my parents + friends who walked from Harlem, the Upper East Side, Chelsea + Brooklyn to have an old fashioned Halloween by candlelight. The Annual Village Halloween Parade was cancelled + there would be no Trick-or-Treating in Lower Manhattan, but we had not incurred any real damage + were lucky. (Series of photos below from London Daily Mail.)
Once we started to get a handle on the big picture, I thought of the devastation in New Orleans after Katrina + remembered how much I regretted (still regret) not going down there to volunteer + help rebuild. I realized that I did not have much time to give before leaving for Taiwan because I need to work as much as I can so that I will have money for my year abroad. But I also felt entirely obligated, as an able bodied New Yorker, to help those affected by the storm.
Through my friend Angela, I was able to find a way to help at the Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen, operating out of Park Slope + feeding thousands of people each day. Started by Two Boots Brooklyn + now operating out of the Old First Reformed Church, I am able to go in for a couple of hours every morning before work to set up operations for the day, start making sandwiches + portioning hot food. (Pictures below courtesy of Angela!)
Angela and I are also making $15 bracelets for sale at the Lori McLean Jewelry Shop in the Village.
At the Relief Kitchen, I am working alongside people who lost entire homes during the storm + people who didn’t even lose power just miles from the devastation. I will continue to put in as much time as I can until I depart + trust that the rebuilding effort will still be in effect when I come back from my 10 months in Taiwan. I continue to send positive thoughts to those still without power, those who lost everything + everyone in between. Click here to find out how to volunteer or to give a donation!
I hope that the people of America and throughout the world will start to see climate change for the true beast that it is + take it into consideration as we move forward as a country and as a world.
This one’s for New York.