For those of us lucky enough to have had power all night, the images and videos that were disseminating through the various screens in our lives were shocking and surreal. It was hard to believe our eyes. Hurricane Sandy visited New York with such relentless intensity that the destruction sometimes felt like it would never end. Perhaps it is because we were waiting so long for Sandy. Waiting from Sunday evening, when the subways and buses shut down, waiting all day Monday as the winds started to pick up speed and the waters started to rise, waiting and waiting until the storm hit and the flood waters rose from Breezy Point to the Battery, waiting for the storm to end as the air filled with the acrid scent of water hitting the third rails, waiting and waiting as the sky stayed dark and the only sounds were from the winds and the sirens. We waited for it to end.
And we watched to see what the storm had wrought. Some images and some stories were fabricated. But most of the ones that were impossible to believe were completely true. Perhaps one of the most eerie pictures was that of Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, partially submerged in the East River, its lights still on, a glowing, floating island in the dark waters. But there are many other haunting images that will stay with us long after all the waters have receded. Above is what Jane's Carousel looked like last night. Below is what it looks like this morning.
There is no real timetable for when New York will emerge from this disaster. It is not as simple as the water level dropping and the fires being put out. But New York will emerge intact, shadowed by its experience, but whole, once again.
What is most stunning about this image—besides the fact that it is taken by Melania Trump, avid Instagrammer—is that we take the cranes in the sky for granted. We know that they are up there, but if you think too hard about the tons of machinery that dangle constantly above our heads, it might make you wear a hard-hat anytime you venture to Duane Reade. The crane was damaged Monday afternoon, before Sandy had officially hit the city. Luckily, it didn't fall during the hurricane, but it will remain compromised until conditions are safe enough for workers to begin to fix the situation by removing the damaged crane and replacing it with a new one. In the meantime, the entire surrounding area has been evacuated.
Above is a still from a video that was uploaded to Youtube showing a transformer exploding at the Con Edison plant on 14th Street in Manhattan. It is suspected that this generator exploding is what caused all of Manhattan below 39th Street to lose power. As much as we were inundated with photoshopped pictures of sharks swimming along New Jersey streets or storm clouds descending on the Statue of Liberty as in "Ghostbusters," this video is an example of something that we wish were fabricated instead of real.
Speaking of "Ghostbusters," this scene is on a beach in Staten Island is reminiscent of the TItanic coming into port in "Ghostbusters 2" only this is much eerier than anything that happened in that regrettable sequel. Gothamist reported that Sandy's force brought this "712-ton, 168-foot-long water tanker more than a mile from its mooring onto Front Street on Staten Island!" What the fuck. Insane.
There were so many people who acted incredibly heroically last night, but perhaps one of the most exceptional stories was that of NYU Langone Medical Center. The backup generator at the hospital failed and all of the patients had to be evacuated, including babies who were in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), which is located on the ninth floor of the hospital. This means that nurses and doctors had to carry these babies down nine flights of stairs and into the waiting ambulances where they were whisked away to other area hospitals. Coney Island Hospital and Bellevue Hospital also had power failures but did not need to be evacuated.
Yeah, this happened. And it was impossible to even take any joy in the vicarious pleasure that usually occurs when you get a peek into another New Yorker's apartment. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? We still don't know. Luckily, no one was hurt when the front of this building completely sheared off from the rest of the structure.
One of the more horrifying stories that started to come out last night was that there were reports of fires in Breezy Point. This neighborhood is comprised of many, close together, wooden bungalows and it is located right on the water, where flooding was inevitable and where it would be impossible for firefighters to respond adequately. This morning, Mayor Bloomberg confirmed that 80 houses burned to the ground last night and this picture confirms the complete destruction on the scene.
These images of the flooding in the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, subway tunnels, PATH stations, and the World Trade Center were among the most evocative of the night.
This rainbow arcing over the Gowanus Canal might seem trite, because it hardly seems true. But it happened this morning, and in light of all the other stranger than fiction images captured, it's a nice thing to see. Cliches, it seems, are comforting for a reason. Stay safe everyone and if you're lucky enough to have power and to not have been too adversely affected by the storm, look into ways to help your fellow New Yorkers.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen