A Silent City: New York Awaits Hurricane Irene

August 27, 2011

New York City, at 5:03 on a Saturday afternoon in August, is silent. Eerily silent.   Four days after experiencing the aftermath of an earthquake – an event that shook my 100-year-old building so badly I fled it in terror, kittens in hand  — the city is almost completely shut down in preparation of Hurricane Irene. Excepting the days immediately following 9/11, I do not recall anything like it.  The subways ceased running at noon.  The buses will soon follow if they have not already.    Entire sections of the city are being asked to evacuate. The streets around me, generally  raucous by this hour, are void of humanity.

Hard to tell how much of this is really necessary and how much of it is Bloomberg trying to redeem his reputation after his epic bungling of the snowstorm a few months back.   Time will tell. One friend suggested that city officials were seizing the opportunity, at least in part, to practice an emergency city shut down operation in light of the London riots.  Could be.  To be sure, that event did not go unnoticed.

One thing for certain: New Yorkers are preparing for the worst. Bars and shops have closed and the supermarkets, if they were open at all, had lines of 100 people or more.

Still, stoic resignation and even some good cheer is the mood of the day as far as I can see.  And there is kindness of the type that is not in the least unusual in New York in times of collective trouble when our better angels tend to appear.  Walking down Ave A with my daughter at 10:00 this morning,  I am called by a restaurateur who has decided not to open shop and so is handing out bags of bread and bags of salad to any passerby who’d like them lest they go to waste.  A good gesture in a tense hour.

Just looked out the window.  The rain has ceased but the streets remain empty and silent. It will be an interesting night.   If the rain stays away I intend on cycling round a bit.  Days and night like these are too weird not to experience fully.

Let us see what is to come.

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