Hi all. Greetings from Lower Manhattan. Without power, access to the Internet or any kind of phone service, my news is nowhere near as interesting or as useful as my cousin’s (below).
In a nutshell, what I’ve learned amounts to this: support and keep alive your local independent radio station. Never, ever, throw away that old bag of camping gear. As soon as you can, purchase a lightweight flashlight/headlamp. Share cowboy coffee with your neighbors if you’re lucky enough to have it (and them). All are invaluable. Also, love any local library that will let you in, anyone with a wireless router who leaves their network open and be glad of a toilet tank which you can access.
I’m fine, this is not about me, but most of the hospitals in lower Manhattan have now been evacuated, except for Beth Israel (which seems to be open). Those who need hospital services are spending hours each day commuting. When downtown New Yorkers come out of this, we need to fight like hell for a full-service hospital in our community.
Finally, one last thing from me:
Dear Lloyd Blankfein, Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs: The global headquarters of your firm is situated in Battery Park City. The well-to-do community built on landfill west of the World Trade Center, connects, I am told, to a different grid from the rest of lower Manhattan. Still, 200 Water Street seems to have kept every light on every floor illuminated since Sunday. Are you trying to send a message to the rest of us about your power? From our very dark, increasingly quiet and cold apartments we see you through our windows and we get it.
And now to cousin Chloe. She reports from Wiliamsburg:
Thursday, Nov 1. 12.35 am
I am writing this from my dining room table in my well-lit apartment with chips and avocado by my side and a glass of fresh, cold, clean water. My cellphone is charged and my house is warm. Williamsburg came through the storm almost completely unscathed. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were not so lucky. If you want to know how you can help, go here.
Today I volunteered from 11am to 9 pm at the Red Hook Initiative, a youth services organization serving the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, whose incredible staff (who live in public housing) opened their doors today to operate as an impromptu center for receiving and distributing supplies, cooking and serving a ton of food for something like 200 people, and giving out information to comfort to the community. They are the only thing going in that area so far (I heard reports of some other places maybe starting up but not sure whether they are really up and running yet). The local community center owned and run by NYCHA (Housing Authority) was closed. People are very stressed, frustrated and scared to be living in the dark. There are robberies happening at night. People can’t see in the stairwell. They are afraid to leave their homes but they have no supplies. There are diabetics who need to refrigerate their medicine. There are elderly people who can’t walk down stairs. There are mothers with small children who can’t get diapers—all the stores are closed. People can’t shower or cook or wash anything. I was told that 70 percent of people living in public housing down there, which someone estimated was 15,000–20,000 people, are without power. Keep in mind that this community is already highly marginalized—far from services, with peeling paint and poor management, where people in at least one building last year went three months without stoves and were told to cook on hot plates instead. Nevertheless, when people came to us today they were calm, polite and grateful. People lined up for batteries, candles, clothing and food, and I didn’t hear any tense words all day.