“We saw Hudson sweeping through our neighbourhood from our 26th floor window” – Sunayana Sarkar

Posted: November 16, 2012 in sandy, survival, Women
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The Marina behind Sunayana’s apartment building

Sunayana Sarkar my bestie from South Point school, a resident of Jersey City, pens down her Sandy experience for my blog. Here’s her account:

Initially we had perhaps underestimated Sandy, after a much mellowed Irene in 2011.  What happened next was quite unimaginable for many of us. Living on the 26th floor, we felt safe… as long as the glass windows didn’t break. I had the diaper bag packed, in case we were asked to evacuate the building. We watched the storm rage through and Hudson rising and sweeping through our neighborhood from our window.  It was apparent the damages were severe.  

“My husband climbed down and up 26 floors”
 We had prepared well with food, water and flashlights so survived the power and water outages – off-again and on-again for the whole week.  We felt trapped at home, as the elevators were not working. My husband Pradeep had to take the stairs down and up to 26 floors, when he went out 2 days after the storm. My daughter Zaara was driving us up the wall asking to go to the park. Thankfully we have wonderful neighbors and had an impromptu chai-pakora to relive some of the memories of Indian monsoon.   

The road in front of her building

“Driving was impossible without traffic lights”
Pradeep’s dental office (he is a dentist) was closed for a week with no power.  And even if it was open, I don’t know how he would have gone with no traffic lights working and no gas in the car.  Filling up gas was a nightmare. People were waiting for hours at the gas stations, only to be told that gas is over, when their turn came.  NJ has instituted the odd-even gas days to ration the gas which has made it a little bit easier and worse at the same time. 

“We are still struggling to commute to New York City”
Transportation has been hit very hard in NJ. Almost all train lines were paralyzed for a week and bus services were limited. It was unnerving for me, as I was flying out on a business trip. Zaara’s nanny didn’t have power for one week, but she was kind enough to bear two hours commute and come on duty, so I could leave for the trip.  Thankfully power in her home was also restored after seven days and the train service has also resumed for our nanny’s commute.  

We are still struggling to commute from NJ waterfront to NYC, as PATH trains are partially working.  It seems like it’s going to take a while for PATH trains to resume normal schedule.  The ferry service is another option for the weekdays, but an expensive one. 

Sunayana and Pradeep on a ferry on the Hudson. I took this snap on our holiday in the US in 2009

“I love the spirit of NYC”

Personally, we were extremely lucky and blessed that our worst experience was limited to no power and water for a few days. The devastation of Sandy in many areas of NY-NJ is unfathomable. Some areas of Staten Island have been wiped off.  But NYC is resilient and we are getting back on our feet as quickly as we can.  Almost everyone I know is helping another affected by the storm in one way or another. NYC marathon was cancelled and it was heart warming to see the marathoners, who had travelled from all over the world, lend a hand in cleaning up Staten Island. People have opened their doors for friends and acquaintances without power and water to stay, shower or even have a hot meal. In times like these, I realize more why I love NYC and its human spirit. At the end of the day, if you think about it the basic necessities have been restored much quicker compared to the intensity of the damages. If it was not a developed country, with all its infrastructure and resources, the toll of human lives would have been much higher.  So we have a lot to be thankful for.  

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