Brian Bacharach had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, being surrounded by family and especially the California weather. Brian was indeed thankful for the weather back in Alamo, as he lives in New York City, where he recently weathered the storm of his life.
Brian, 26, a De La Salle 2002 grad and UC Berkeley 2006 grad, had recently moved to New York after graduating from USC in May and began working at Acadia Realty Trust. The night Hurricane Sandy hit, Brian and his girlfriend Michelle Harrison, 27, were observing through their window the rapidly changing weather and would soon find out the wrath of this storm.
"The wind began to pick up and rain began to increase, and it seemed like a bad storm from our apartment, but around 8 that night, the power went out and didn't come back on for five days," said Brian. In an email, he elaborated on coming to grips with the devastation in New York. "It took us a while to figure out how destructive the storm had been. We woke up on Tuesday to no water, no cell reception and still no power. My company had canceled work for Tuesday, but as far as I knew, I still had a big presentation for Wednesday. Michelle and I both needed to get in contact with the world, and, while we had plenty of dry goods at home, we wanted to see if we could find some hot food. We went downstairs, using flashlights and gathered around with some of our neighbors who were listening to a radio where Mayor Bloomberg was giving his update," wrote Brian.
Power was out below 40th Street, and since the couple lives on Houston Street, they set out to walk 40 blocks north to see if they could get cell service and power. Brian told me that it seemed the lower half of Manhattan all had the same idea. Finally after getting reception, they contacted family and friends to let them know they were alright and to meet up with friends who had power in their apartments. He told me cabs passing them were full of passengers, and there was no public transportation.
"Finally a nice couple took us in their taxi to share for the last 30 blocks to our friends' place on the upper west side. On the way, we got deli sandwiches and passed banks and cafes with downtown New Yorkers plugging their devices into the outlets for power. There were people with their power strips out, charging all their devices at once. We stayed at our friends' house all day and then went back to the 'dark zone' to stay the night at home and feed our cats. Our doormen were out in full force because our revolving door had been collapsed by the wind and because of the increased danger of looters and criminals that were coming out, due to the power outage. It never felt too unsafe because there were policemen almost on every corner directing traffic, and we heard sirens all night from their patrol cars," he added.
When Brian finally made it back to work on the third day, it took him three hours to get there. "Public transportation was a little shaky the first few days back, but not nearly as bad as the gas lines that began to pile up and the huge traffic jams all over the city, waiting hours for the only gas station in town that had gas left," he said.
Brian told me that he had given Michelle cooking classes for her birthday and they learned to make a few new dishes, which came in handy, when the couple decided to have all the helpful friends over for a meal, to thank them for taking them in.
"We were really grateful for having friends that were so willing to share their resources. There were many others who were not so lucky," said Brian, who told me many of his friends had far more to contend with, such as flood damage and fallen trees on their houses. "It was nice to be able to express our gratitude. Especially when there were so many people, including the NYPD, Con Edison workers and even utilities employees who came all the way from PG&E in California who we wouldn't be able to ever thank properly," he said.
Michelle also made cookies for the building staff. Reflecting on weathering the hurricane, Brian adds, "I now understand why so many people stay in California ... 75 and sunny in November is not too bad!"
Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- firstname.lastname@example.org.