Sunday, August 28, 2011

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York.

Our city has now added another weather-related name to its collective memory. Hurricane Irene. Like many other hurricanes, she was raised in the Atlantic Ocean and spent her early days in the Caribbean. She grew very large and powerful and settled in on an usual northern path, hugging the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Irene moved at a slow pace, and attracted lots and lots of attention from the press. Governmental officials also began to take notice of her power, and began to plan how best to protect local citizens (many of whom are also voters) from Irene's potentially destructive ways.

By last Friday, our New York City Mayor along with other regional officials made the decision to actually close the area's mass public transportation system for at least two days, beginning at 12 noon on Saturday. No buses, no subway trains, no commuter railway trains, etc. This was a huge hint to everyone to get to a safe location before midday Saturday and to stay there. Our Mayor is also a billionaire businessman and clearly understood the economic ripples to be caused by this transportation decision.

Most folks therefore received a change to their weekend plans. I was to have worked on Saturday and Sunday, and instead received an opportunity to relax at home, chat with friends on the phone, work on various craft projects, do some reading, and watch hours of television coverage of the hurricane vigil.

The size of the storm meant that we were already receiving wind and rain here in New York while Irene's actual eye was still slowly moving across the North Carolina coast, hundreds of miles away.

That eye was to reach us around midnight. I admit to finding the land of nod well before midnight and actually sleeping through Irene's entire visit.

When I woke up this morning, I did not hear any rain. (Heavy rain and wind had been predicted to last through this afternoon.) I looked out my window and realized that Irene had sort of lost her punch before she got here. There is a popular tune with the lyric, "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere...." I am truly not at all sorry that Irene did not cause as much havoc as some had predicted.

Most damage is flood related and occurred in outer areas of the city. Some huge trees have fallen over as their root systems could not hold in the soggy, soggy soil. (I dread seeing what has happened over in Central Park, but it's too dangerous to take a walk over there this afternoon. Branches and trees are still vulnerable.)

By late morning, Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm as she headed through Connecticut on her way to the New England area.

By early afternoon, I was suffering from cabin fever, and decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood. I took my camera along, so that I might show you all some sample city views.

Because of the transit shutdown, many businesses wisely closed, including my usually bustling local market, The Fairway. This store is very, very rarely closed.

The sidewalk outside Fairway is much duller without the usual brilliant display of multi-colored seasonal produce. Those fruits and veg will be back tomorrow.

Also along Broadway, the usual sidewalk book vendors had carefully wrapped up their tables of books and records and magazines. I do hope that they used enough plastic.

Although the Mayor said that using masking tape on windows really does not do much to protect those windows from airborne debris, some folks did decide to tape their windows.

My final photo is a southward view that shows the post-storm cloudy grey sky and includes one of the entrances to the 72nd Street subway station, with a police car parked outside. Before the subway trains can be put back into service, many safety checks must be completed, including the need for transit personnel to actually walk along each of the hundreds of miles of subway tracks. Wow.

As I type this post, I have just heard that limited City bus service has already been reinstated. Wow, again. I think that means that I will have a way to return to work tomorrow.

I would like to thank all you readers who send your good wishes to me over the past few days. What kind folks you are.


  1. So glad to hear the good new, Francis!
    Good thing you slept through the storm. ;-)

    Best wishes for tomorrow commute, but first for a relaxing rest of Sunday,

  2. I am sorry, I clicked once and created three comments.

  3. I'm so glad things did not turn out to be as bad as expected and that you are all fine over there.

    Enjoy the last bit of your enforced holiday!

  4. Ah, Frances, this is so good to find. I haven't had internet access for the last couple of days and have thought about you so many times. I'm glad you're all right and that you were able to sleep during Irene's visit. I do hope that the damage in the Park isn't too severe. Cx

  5. Just glad that you weren't entirely surrounded by water or languishing in the dark.
    If it had been me I would have had a stash of emergency chocolate!

  6. Good news: you, and most of New York, survived unscathed!
    But I've also heard that one of the main yards for subway trains has been flooded. We Bears might not be the brightest creatures in the forest, but I seem to recall that water and electricity do not make a good combination.
    Hope tomorrow's trip to work is not too problematic.

  7. Thank you all for your wishes and comments.

    Rob, true that flooding did affect one of the usual areas for storing off-service subway trains. That is why the trains were taken out of service in plenty of time to "store" those out of service cars on higher land.


  8. I'm glad to hear that it all turned out to be very mild and that most of the worrying was for naught. You did get some free time out of it anyway. I hope you have no problems with your commute tomorrow and that pretty much everything will be back to normal. I hope your local market will be open anyway. I would miss that. Thanks for updating us.


  9. I'm so glad to read that you are safe and that you were able to stay snug at home through the storm. We followed Irene on TV and I was concerned about you.

  10. How beautifully you captured the strange atmosphere of a city paused. I am glad that Irene lost her steam somewhat, things could have been so much worse.

  11. Good to hear that your city got away "relatively" unhurt and that you are safe. Have been thinking of you all the time. Ivy xxx

  12. We ahve been following the news about Irene, and thinking of so many people who live in and around NY. It must have been a frightening time for you all, Frances. I hope by now that the shops are open again, and that the buses are running...but it was good to hear that you had a peaceful weekend!

  13. So glad the storm wasn't as bad as it could been - nothing wrong with taking timely precautions though.

    We're reminded just how frail we are in the face of the natural world.

  14. Hello Francis It was lovely to see a post from you today and to know you are safe despite Hurricane Irene. Lucky that you slept through the storm! and I'm glad the worst fears were not realised in most places.
    Your post is so interesting, that sense of waiting for normality to return was so well captured by your photos and description.
    Wishing you a relaxing day.
    Helen x

  15. Thanks god, you were and are safe! Have been thinking a lot of you in NY and how it will turn out. Good to see that outcome and thanks for the post, Frances.

  16. I thought of you when I heard of the subway closing. So glad that you weathered the storm well.

  17. So glad to hear that you (and the city) survived without too much disruption and damage in the end. It's impressive to hear how well organised and prepared everyone seems to have been. Thanks for such an interesting account of this event that had us all feeling tense even if vicariously!

  18. Good to hear that you got some extra sleep and relaxation and that Irene was more of a lady than you all thought she would be.

    Those grey post-storm clouds, that' what my sky looks like this whole weekend. (it's bank holiday here)

  19. When I woke up Sunday morning at 4 AM the wind was fierce.
    A ton of rain had come in on the floor in the room where I forgot to close the window completely.
    The trees outside were swinging with abandon.Fortunately no wires came down in our neighborhood but it was scary.
    No two ways about it.
    I'm glad it's over and done with.

  20. Dear Frances,

    Glad to hear you and NY came through the storm safe!

    Have a lovely new week!

    Madelief x

  21. Hi Frances,

    Pleased to hear you are alright, I was so worried for you.

    All the best for your trip to work on transport later. Do hope there is not too much damage to that lovely park near you in NY.

    Love Camilla.xx

  22. I'm glad to hear that ordeal has passed and that you slept through it. How quiet NY must be for a little while - apart from the wind that is.

  23. Now why don't we have pavement booksellers like you do? Getting hold of secondhand books here, for I am presuming that is what your street vendors sell, is not easy if you live in a very rural area as I do. The nearest secondhand bookshop is an hour away, and that is tiny, cramped and almost impossible to look at books with any ease. Markets don't seem to have them, car boots have 99% fairly modern paperbacks so not what I am looking for at all. It's by no means a booklovers paradise!
    Good to see your blog still going and still making for interesting reading.

  24. It was, of course, a dark and stormy night. But where was the intern and the little girl back in Kansas? By coincidence, I am listening to a discussion about the song 'Wichita Lineman' though I am not sure what a lineman does or whether they have linemen in New York and what do linemen do when the transportation is closed down? But suppose it really rained and the waters rose then New York could become like Venice and the yellow cabs would float and might be propelled with oars and you could build a great Gothic basilica on Times Square and cover it with gold.
    No? Or is a lineman an electricity man, repairing the wires, up ladders and turning outages into intages?

    Anyway enough nonsense just very glad that you are safe and in blogland again. Take care and knit well. Goodnight Irene!

  25. So pleased you are safe. Very scary sitting waiting for a hurricane to reach you.

  26. You all are so sweet to have left these comments.

    Here's an update. Yesterday, Monday, was a beautiful, sunny, blue-sky day, and the public transit system was close to perfect in its recovery early in the morning.

    And so, once again, our City is up and running. However, our sympathies go out to folks living in "upstate" New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and many parts of New England who were not very kindly treated by Irene.

    Fennie, you've made me laugh with your surrealist Venetian dreams for our city. Re linemen from Wichita and elsewhere. You might have seen an interview with Glenn Campbell, who wrote the tune, Wichita Lineman, so many years ago, when he was a brilliant guitarist and songwriter. Alas, now he is in the grip of Alzheimer's.

    Linemen describes the men who worked for electricity/phone companies in the days when most of those companies strung their wires from the tops of wooden poles. Those poles were studded with metal footholds so that the linemen could climb them to make repairs or additions to the lines.

    Most of this infrastructure is now below ground, but not all. And those above ground lines are the ones that hurricane-damaged trees fall against, causing all sorts of danger and inconvenience.

    Thus endeth the lesson. I love the image of yellow cabs floating through NYC avenues, but still think that Venice will always do it better.


  27. I've been thinking of you Frances, and wondering how you'd been affected by the Hurricane. So I'm very pleased to see you've been affected in the nicest possible way, by having a couple of days off work, marvellous! I did have in my mind a vision of you as part of some movie scale catastrophe, so part of me was slightly nervous about visiting your blog! I'm so pleased you're well, and enjoyed this very dry homoured post enormously! Vanessa xxx

  28. Always best to expect the worst and hope for the best - you just never can tell how these events will turn out.

    I recall, when on holiday in South Carolina, being mandatory advised to leave Hilton Head Island. Quite a scary prospect as had never experienced such an event. In the end all was well but better to be safe than sorry. The authorities are "damned if they do and damned if they don't" take safety precautions seriously. On that occasion we were fortunate. Seems you were too - thankfully! BB

  29. Frances I was thinking of you when I heard that New York was effectively shut down in the the wake of Irene's arrival. I find nature so powerful and get quite scared by it at times so was very impressed to hear you slept through the whole event. So glad it did not bring devastation to you. The happy farmer's cousins in North Carolina had a lot of clearing up to do.
    I do not envy the underground staff having to walk through all those miles of tunnels.
    Best wishes and thank you for giving an insider's account of the hurricane.

  30. So glad your were safe Frances, you were in my thoughts.

  31. Dear Frances,

    I am so glad you are well and thank you for sharing your experience of Irene in New York.

    Warmest wishes,


  32. So glad to hear you're okay, Frances, and that the storm wasn't nearly as bad as expected. Now that's the kind of downgrading we like to hear!

    Canadian Chickadee

  33. I am glad to hear you survived the hurricane unscathed, Frances, and that it did not have as big an impact as predicted. A bonus that you had some time to relax over the weekend. Hope things get back to normal soon.
    Hen x

  34. I am glad that you managed to sleep through it all - that's truly a sign that you needed some rest!

    Pomona x

  35. Just catching up after being away on holiday. So glad you survived unscathed.

  36. Hi Francis, I'm so happy to hear that you and your community are ok, I hope central park is too, I think I've said before how much I loved central park and Riverside Park too.
    I bet it's lovely to knit listening to the sounds of the city outside, a nice warm fire, have you got any projects planned? last night I ordered the yarn for the Robin mittens I showed, I hope I can make them ok!
    This change of seasons into Autumn for us really makes me dream of coffee shops and book shop browsing, and knitting and crochet, stormy beach days and burnt falling leaves, I love it!

  37. Hi Frances, thinking of you and the people of your city. Cx

  38. Gosh, I'm late to the party!
    Yes, we were totally spared the worst of it. Thank God.
    I feel so sorry for the poor folks in Jersey and Vermont.
    Hope to see you very soon!

  39. I hope that everything is back to normal in New York after the Irene related problems. I also hope that you have a nice day – not an easy day in New York today – painful and thoughtful – but we are all there with you.

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