Sandy strikes!

An angry Hudson, pre-storm

Monday lunchtime: So, the supermarkets are stripped almost bare and the less-organised Upper West Siders are considering whether things will ever get desperate enough to see them eat cold new potatoes from a tin. We’re stocked up on prosciutto, pesto, rare cheese and quince paste, cornflakes, milk and muffins. We’ll be fine. We’ve got battery-operated lighting and the i-pad on permanent charge. Prepared for the worst, we wander down to the Hudson River to see the storm build.

Pre-storm Boat Basin

We’re not the only ones. There’s loads of us down there: families; joggers; newsmen; everyone and their dog – literally – oohing and aahing at the swelling waters as the police try in vain to shepherd us to safety. Already the waves are sluicing over the sea wall and the skiffs in the boat basin are keening drunkenly, their little bells tinkling forlornly. There’s a celebratory feel to it all, like it’s Christmas Day without the presents. What will Sandy Claus bring?

The wind whips up and we decide it’s time to get back to the apartment. Sandy is due to hit landfall around 6pm and it’s three now. The next few hours are, frankly, anti-climactic. Our apartment building is surrounded by other apartment buildings. We’re sheltered. We’re on the 4th floor – not high enough to give us spectacular city views. But we’re high enough above the water line to be far from any impending flooding. The hours pass uneventfully.

About 10pm we decide to attempt to take the dogs out for a wee. Our doorman isn’t happy about it. He thinks it’s dangerous. I poo-poo his misgivings and step out into the street. I’m hit instantly by a blast of wind that feels like having my ears boxed by Henry Cooper. The dogs are blown to the furthest reaches of their leashes. It’s scary. I run back in the building. I got all of ten feet.

A disarrayed Boat Basin

Up-ended jetty

Tuesday lunchtime: It’s grey, it’s wet, it’s blustery… but Sandy has left. Off we go with the dogs to investigate the damage. We’ve seen the pictures of a flooded Battery Park – what will Riverside hold? The park on the way to the river has plenty of fallen branches but few full-grown trees felled. The Hudson is high – about level with the sea wall. The police are again trying in vain to keep us away from the river – more angrily this time – but dangerous water is a powerful draw. There are signs everywhere of storm havoc. The boat basin jetties have been jumbled haphazardly and the riverside path has sand trails from receding tidal waters and clusters of unfortunate beached worms. The Upper West Side has been ravaged and left unkempt. But it will soon be back to normal.

Worms – unexpected casualties

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