What I Learned Braving Hurricane Sandy in Downtown Manhattan

One of my favorite things about my apartment is that the building overlooks the East River. However on the evening of October 29 when Hurricane Sandy rolled in, that river got a little too close for comfort!

Sandy hit the hardest at lower Manhattan between 8 to 10 o’clock at night, and I was amazed at what I saw when I looked out the window. Wall Street was completely submerged in water; the river was literally flowing up the streets. I cracked the window open to see more, and beachy noises flooded my apartment: the sounds of rolling and crashing waves echoed all the way up from the mess below.  I could see from my window that there was over 10 feet of water on the streets because the water completely covered storefronts.

Here’s what I have learned about hurricane survival:

1.) I was lucky I had listened to the warnings and  stockpiled food and water.  We were to told that the storm would hit lower Manhattan hard, but we didn’t really know exactly what to expect. I prepared by buying non-perishable foods, snacks, and water because I expected to lose power.  This was an occasion that my candle obsession actually come in handy!

2.) I had a battery-powered radio. As the storm raged on I lost power, and could only depend on my trusty radio to keep me updated on what was going on.

3.) I had some games on hand. Over the next few days, my boyfriend and I ”roughed it” at my apartment,  and passed some extra time at home with a game of Battleship.

4.) I needed to check out what was happening to my building. The following day, still with no power, I walked all the way down to my lobby to see what damage Sandy had left behind. My lobby was flooded and all of the furniture was broken from the water crashing it around. I was told that the basement had been fully submerged in water and the building was left without electricity, heat or water, as I already knew.

5.) It was important to get out of the apartment. My boyfriend and I walked miles uptown to find power to charge our phones, catch up on work, and shower at the gym. As we walked around at night,  it was surreal to see our city in complete darkness.  The city that never sleeps was sleeping! There was not one light on or store open until we reached 34th street. One of my most memorable moments was standing on 34th street with complete darkness to my left (downtown), and the bright lights of New York City to my right.  Half the city seemed to just be turned off.

6.) You learn to know your neighbors.  Witnessing this storm has taught me something about New Yorkers. I witnessed my neighbors in panic, angry, confused, and sad. But we have come together to help each other and show the love that we have for this city, as well as for each other.  Seeing boxes set up on the streets for people to donate belongings, and the way we have spread the word about ways to donate money has been so nice to see.

Although it was hard to be without power, I felt a great pride in braving the storm. Unfortunately, because my building could not provide essential services, including heat or water, management forced us to evacuate, and I have not yet been allowed to return.  Although it’s tough being temporarily forced out of my home, I know that I am truly lucky to have a place to return to. Many people have lost so much more, and my heart goes out to all those who are dealing with much bigger problems.  I wish us all strength and  I know we’ll overcome this disaster, as we have all the others!

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Author My First Apartment

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I am the type of person who likes to get involved in everything I can, which keeps me endlessly busy! I moved into my very own apartment in Manhattan after graduating college, and every day has been more exciting than the last. Furnishing my apartment is just one of the many ways I satisfy my shopaholic tendencies; I especially enjoy finding cute one-of-a-kind items that fit my style. Most recently, I created MinnieinManhattan.com, a New York-centric blog dedicated to the best addition to my home: my little puppy named Minnie!

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Comments (7)

  1. Avatar Christina Danza

    Hey guys!

    I just wanted to post an update on how everything ended up after the hurricane.

    I was finally able to return to my apartment the day before Thanksgiving, and my building credited our rent accounts to reflect the amount of time that we were evacuated (whew!)

    I got help paying for the hotels I had to stay at through my apartment renter’s insurance. They were able to cover $2,000 for me to help with temporary rental expenses. This event helped me to realize that renter’s insurance is really useful to have! You never think you will really need it, but when you do it is a godsend!

    I also reached out to FEMA which was able to help me with the rental costs exceeded the coverage of my renter’s insurance. All-in-all, my hotel expenses were almost 100% reimbursed which was a huge relief!

    My apartment building also issued all its residents a credit of $100 to help us restock our refrigerators, since we lost all of our food. This was their way of expressing to us that they were sorry for the inconvenience!

  2. Avatar Christina

    Hi Jasmaine!

    Thank you for your kind words and prayers! It is so nice to see your support for Manhattan. I really enjoyed reading your comment and its great to know that others around the world are rooting for us!


  3. Avatar Christina


    I am definitely thankful I was prepared! After the storm, it was literally impossible to find a store selling non-perishable food anywhere nearby. I may always keep essentials on hand now, as it seems bad weather is becoming more and more common in New York!


  4. Avatar Christina


    Thanks for your comment! I am actually not yet allowed back into my beloved aprtment. They are waiting for ConEd to restore power so that they can test their equipment and see how extensive the damage was. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to move in sometime next week! In the meantime, I am staying at a hotel, but I will need to find a more affordable living alternative soon!

    There are actually several buildings in the financial district that were so badly damaged that they are not allowing residents back in for months, if ever. It’s not getting coverage, but there has been foundation damages and other problems in some buildings that have caused these buildings to be declared condemned. I am hoping that mine makes it out alright!


  5. Avatar jasmaine

    Hi I am from Singapore and thank you for sharing your experience so vividly that brought back memories of my grandparents stories of how they survived the old days without power for days on end. We been blessed for decades nothing major happened but any emergency can happen anywhere, and we must be prepared for whatever can fall from the sky the very next day. I am going to dig out my dusty emergency preparedness handbooks which many have discarded along with spring cleaning, and read it from cover to cover for the first time in my life. God bless Manhattan and may Manhattan recovery be a speedy one. Prayers from our lit tle island on the equator.

  6. Avatar Megan

    Glad to hear you are alright from the storm. It is also a good thing you were prepared as I know some that don’t really listen to the warnings and are in a lot of hurt after the storm hits.

  7. Avatar Diane Tuman

    Christina: Thanks for sharing your personal experience about the storm as you were right in the middle of it! Are you staying with friends? Also, when will you be able to return to the apartment?