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After Hurricane Sandy

Well what a crazy time to be in New York ! I was going to tell you about my Tisch Fellowship here at Hunter College and was already finding it pretty exciting and lots happening …what with teaching, seminars, interesting people and the run up to the presidential election and all … and then hurricane Sandy hits!I happened to be at the deputy Mayor’s (covers health) office on Friday afternoon, so got a small sneak preview of ‘emergency preparedness’ NY style. I have to say they made a good job of it overall… and NYC is coming back to full life at quite a pace. I myself am staying in Roosevelt House (upper east side) and, as its name implies, built some time ago, and it stood the test of time well. I am sure you all saw some of the TV coverage of the devastation and I do not want to belittle that in any way, but it is mainly in ‘coastal’ areas and the south part of Manhattan that was hit badly. I am quite near central park and some very large trees were uprooted and lots of branches down etc. But NYC is resilient, the emergency services did an amazing job, Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama and the governor of New Jersey (definitely worst hit!) and others were masterful, coordinated and frankly impressive. It is still rather surreal as the top part of Manhattan appears almost normal and some people are back at work in RH today (Thursday) for the first time. But as you go further downtown there is still no power, no heating and people collecting water from standpipes - many high apartment blocks rely on power to pump up water - so no power means no water! Collections of people, where there is power, charging their cellphones (mobile phones to you and I) - Shops with power are letting them do so … there is a real spirit of support and camaraderie. And the city’s addiction to coffee is palpable. Especially in the mornings – very long lines of people trying to get coffee from the coffee shops that do have power. I understand Starbucks has now a map on line that shows which ones have power so people can use the internet there. (No power - no internet!)

So some shops back open from yesterday, buses starting to run and some subways (tube trains to you and I) now also running .. but limited services – mainly in upper Manhattan - and so lots of cars, taxis etc and last afternoon and evening was gridlock! As you can see it is a fairly 

gripping and an overwhelming experience even for those of us who are least affected. What an experience for a Brit in New York! I will certainly never forget my time in New York.

1st November 2012 Sue Atkinson Joan H Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health Hunter College, New York

 

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