Now that I am safe and sound in Brooklyn, it is time for a longer update because many people were asking how I was doing and I think it’s important to chronicle this. So warning, this is a longer one…
On Monday night, I looked out my Hoboken apartment window and the saw just wind. About a half hour later, I heard a scream from the hall and looked out that window and saw at least four feet of water surrounding my building. The hudson had come. Soon, every car that had been left on the street flooded and their alarms went off. This sound would last well into the next morning.
But, we still had power and Internet and during Irene had kept it, so I spent the rest of the night watching Hocus Pocus and editing The Show You’re Watching and Laughing Historically Halloween episodes so that with a few hours work on Tuesday, I could have them both out.
The fool I was. I had prepared pretty well, but I look back on the things I could have done in that time, like hard boiling eggs, cooking pasta, loading my ipad with movies, and most importantly shutting off my iPhone before going to sleep, because…
On the morning of Tuesday, I woke up to no power and an iPhone down to 80%. There was now no cell phone service at all and the water was still four feet around the entire building. Turning my phone off because it was useless at this point, I made some food and spent the day reading and listening to the radio on my iPod nano. As the sun started to dip, I turned on my phone and found I could get a little bit of lte data for about a minute at a time.
Adventuring into the hall to find better service, I found that the building had a gas generator for the lights in the hall and lobby. Thanks to this, the lobby was filled with people grilling, drinking, and talking. This is Hoboken, Nj, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I find out that the entire city is without power and the path system is completely under water (no news on how long it could take to come back. could be weeks). Hung out a bit down there, then went to sleep after some iPad games and a quick listen to the radio.
Next morning, Halloween, I awoke to still no power, no real cell service, and my iPhone and iPod down to around 30%. This day was the worst. My food was starting to go and there was still no real way to leave the building, as the water around us was still more than two feet, but now black with a mixture of gas from the drowned cars and the sewage system bubbling up. The national guard also arrives and every few minutes, another people carrier or tank rides past the window, looks like they are evacuating the west side of town where I’m sure water was the highest. This is the creepiest sight I’ve ever seen in my life.
At around 3pm, I definitely started to panic when I switch on my phone and find it at 20%. I had no idea what to do. There was no way to get to the city, or my family in north jersey, i could walk to my friends’ in Jersey City, but they still don’t have power either.
Walking downstairs to consider wading through the sludge a block to the increasing dry ground. lots of people are now climbing along the building holding their bags to get to their cars or the giant line at the now open uptown ferry. I talk to some of the neighbors and find that on two floors there are electrical outlets hooked up to the generator. Walking up there, I find power strips hooked up to two outlets full of cell phones and a coffee maker! I put my iPhone on, and head back to my apartment. I remember the moment where I looked at my bed and decided for the night, it probably was for the best if I stayed where I could be warmest and most comfortable.
After charging up, I check in with Blip, friends and family the best I can and find that Blip is still plugging away from Brooklyn apartments. My family is fine, just without power, however my father has the house hooked up to the car battery like Macgyver. The elementary school where my brother teaches is off until Monday.
By nightfall, the water is mostly giant puddles. Another night of some talking and drinking in the lobby. News is there is no solid timeline on power, PSEG say anytime, town says five days. Anderson Cooper was reporting from outside our building that night, and some people went over and talked to him and his most solid source says it could be up to seven days. I trust Anderson Cooper. I decide to leave in the morning and work my way to my girlfriend’s in Greenpoint. I do find out from a neighbor that there is probably still hot water in my tank. I pretty much run upstairs and take my first hot shower in days by led light. It is warm and brief, but its something.
Upon waking on Thursday, I go upstairs to charge and find that nothing has changed, power Is still a mystery, but NJ transit buses are running on the Main Street. I pack up my supplies, as much as I can carry, throw out my entire packed fridge(five bags worth) and head out. It is the first time I have left the building since Sunday afternoon. Hoboken has gone from one of the nicest places I have known to a pure nightmare. The cute little coffeehouse down the block from me is gone, the entire front window bashed in by the surge of water. The townhall is completely surrounded by national guard and FEMA vehicles. Everything you see on the news doesn’t compare. It is a literal disaster area, with soviet era lines for water and batteries.
I work my way up to the first bus stop, pay five dollars because it is the smallest bill I have and the machines aren’t giving change. The fact that NJ transit is charging in this situation disgusts me. Good news is that up the road, there is a massive deadlock due to the HOV restrictions, Hoboken is right next to the lincoln tunnel, so we go right in. The tunnel is utterly empty. There wasn’t another vehicle that I could see with us.
It takes me two hours to work my way to Greenpoint by bus/sub/cab, but the weirdest thing to see was how normal Time Square was, with tourists still taking photos with “Nick Cage” in front of Madam Tussauds.
I have properly showered, talked to my family for the first time in days, ate a big mac meal which was the best thing I ever ate, and caught up on a bunch of news. I have no idea what the next few days will bring. Literally everything is up in the air.
Things I learned or was reminded of:
- AT&T is garbage. Verizon customers had full data and voice coverage, while AT&T had nearly nothing. Not being able to get basics updates and tell family I am okay makes the purpose of having a cell phone useless. I understand this is an unforeseen thing, but the idea of cell service is that it is there in emergencies. As soon as I can find a way, I will switch my family off of it.
- putting a bottle of water on top of led tap lights fills a whole room with light.
- The community that springs up in these situations is unbelievable. My dad has always been a huge advocate of getting to know neighbors and I usually live in my hermity ways. If it wasn’t for the great people in my building and the well thought out design with all it’s little workarounds, I don’t know where I’d be.
- Blip is the greatest team of people I have ever had the privilege of working with. The fact that so many are keeping the company pushing forward from TV trays in one employees apartment is intensely inspiring and I wish I could be with them.
- I need to bite the bullet and finally buy a laptop. All my work is currently on a desktop that I have no idea when I can get power to. The fact that I can’t get The Show You’re Watching out this week and have to release The Halloween episode of Laughing Historically at least a week late is killing me and breaking my heart. Thanks to apple care replacing my iMac every year, I haven’t bought a new computer in over 4 years. If I can, hoping to get to 5th ave store and get a 15” retina MacBook Pro so I can keep working no matter what goes down.
- my iPad is the greatest purchase I have ever made. The thing lasted Monday-Thursday with heavy heavy gaming and comic reading use. I had nothing else to do. Even now, it’s all I am using to catch up on the news and contact friends/work. After this week, I am not trying to be hyperbolic, I believe the iPad is one of the greatest inventions ever.
- Zara is an incredible wonderful person… The updates she gave me when I got them we’re invaluable and welcoming me in after everything that went down in Hoboken… There are no words to show my gratitude.
- of course, my family shows its best qualities in the worst situations. My mom waited on line for gas for the car for over two hours today and did It in high spirits using her “system developed in the 70’s gas shortage” (she brings a blanket, snacks, and a book).
As i finish this, seems like power may be back in my building or close, not totally confirmed yet (checking Hoboken Facebook) and getting in and out still nightmarish… And that’s all for now.