November 11th, 2013
Our office building without power, as it would be for months. Photo by Emily Oravecz.
It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we were getting settled into our temporary office space a few blocks north of the massive storm surges that changed history for the Financial District. Willing members of the team rushed up and down 20 flights of stairs, carting computers and servers up and down Broadway to our new (temporary) home. By mid-November, the waters had receded and we had realized our fortune of being safe and relatively sound as the region began to count the destruction.
In the year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, here are some of our reflections.
Emily Oravecz, Senior Project Manager
“I was living in Hell’s Kitchen at the time. Hurricane Irene the previous year made me not so nervous for Sandy. But still me & roommates stocked up on water, can goods etc. When the MTA shuts down you don’t mess around. In the morning after the storm, I woke up, the sun shining. Other than the MTA & a lot of businesses being closed, where I lived, you really couldn’t tell there had been a devastating storm. I was very lucky. Where I worked – Onboard – however, was a different story. I’ve worked at 90 Broad in FiDi for 6 years. Was used to taking the 2/3 train to Wall St everyday. After the storm because this area was so devastated, we worked remotely for about 2 weeks- in our various homes in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island, NJ, Westchester. Various team members were out of power but overall we were a very lucky organization. We were then fortunate enough to secure temporary office space right near Ground Zero. I would walk back to 90 Broad occasionally. The street was so dark. Everything boarded up. Generators buzzing. The first day in the temporary office was strange, it was a bigger building than we were used to and it had been a while since we had all seen each other. But there was energy around the office. And the view was amazing. We were so glad to be back together, even though it wasn’t the 20th floor at 90 Broad, but it was home. For 3 months at least.”
Simona Burbacki, Senior Relationship Manager
“On this one year anniversary of Sandy, it’s hard for me to focus on only one distinct experience from that time. There are so many things that I recall from the aftermath of the storm. My entire family- my husband and I, my parents, my grandmother, my sisters , nephews- we were all affected and displaced for up to a month after the storm. Even though we live all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, unfortunately we all live in those neighborhoods that were devastated by the storm. I still remember walking up and down 22 flights of stairs to walk my grandmother down from her apartment, my wedding dress floating in 6 feet of water in my parents basement as little crabs float by, the frantic search for gas so we could drive to get supplies and food for family and neighbors, the feeling of not showering for days and then finally in freezing water because that’s all we could get. There was a lot of destruction, discomfort, loss and anxiety following the storm. What I remember the most, however, is the kindness of an acquaintance, who with no hesitation or second thought, took in a whole family and gave us a warm place to stay where we could gather our thoughts and decide on what to do next. With no help from FEMA, from the city or from any government agency during or after the storm, it is the kindness of individuals who volunteered their time, their homes and their resources that I will most remember when I think back on Sandy.”
Jesse Gillies, Technical Data Specialist
Photo taken from lobby of 90 Broad St in November 2012 (left) and November 2013 (right). Notice the water line from the storm surge is still visible.
Jackie Berg, Marketing Director
“A year ago today, New York was a very different place. Sandy’s winds had pushed the tide onto the low-lying curvatures of the islands, peninsulas, and coasts in the area. Depending on where you were, Sandy had her own identity. In Brooklyn Heights where I was, she was a practical joker, emptying grocery aisles only to push over a few branches. In Rockaway, she was callous and vulgar. Fortunate enough to have power, we watched in awe as the reporter at the South Street Seaport was forced more landward on every shot as the East River grew taller around her feet within minutes. ‘Are we in the same city?’ began then as a joke and soon became an omen, telling the story of the storm. “SoPo” (South of Power), containing some of the priciest nabes in the nation, suddenly became the most undesirable place to be after the generators blew Manhattan’s access to power below Midtown – the exception being the
Water St, Lower Manhattan, November 2013.
Goldman Sachs plaza, sandbagged and cozily running on backup generators on its own island in Battery Park City. It is easy to see how the storm (like many others in our history) held a blacklight to the growing inequality of the city. It is troubling that some families are still displaced today. Many people assume the city is back to normal, but the effects are still ever-present. A walk around the Financial District on a cloudy November afternoon a year later where buildings are still boarded up, even in a commerce and finance capital, offers a reminder of our need to create a sustainable plan to live alongside of the next inevitable storm. Like any tragedy, last autumn brought the best in New Yorkers willing to lend a hand. At every volunteer station whether it was the Rockaway cleanup or serving meals in hurricane shelters, New Yorkers were there and ready – often outnumbering those in need.”
Tags: Hurricane Sandy.