The Hoboken PATH station at the height of the storm.
The morning after brought more of the same. The city was a scene out of Night of the Living Dead. Zombie people roaming the countryside looking for their belongings, trying to save their businesses, police warning you not to “go there.” Curfews implemented. Water trucks showing up to help the unprepared. And, the National Guard arriving, making it feel like we live in Haiti.
A student of my brother-in-law was killed by a falling tree while trying to walk his dog. A friend of mine, a 9/11 first responder, couldn’t get out to get his asthma medication. Even though my car was toast, things could definitely be worse.
Now that we were being told 70% of the state was without power, and would be for some time, we began making preparations for the “Amish” life that awaited us.
Due to the east coast gas reserves taking a direct hit, word was there were lines 50 cars long at the one or two open stations in the area. This made the problem of charging your phones and stuff a bit more complicated, as you don’t want to drain your battery anymore than it already is, so the more you charge your device, the more fuel you burn, and the closer you are to being stranded.
First problem was getting out of our building. Most folks with families chose to leave right away, as, besides a cold shower, the thought of navigating the ten or more flights of stairs in total darkness each time you need to go outside, was probably enough motivation. Thank God for the free Flashlight app., as every store from here to Timbuktu is out of batteries.
I was able to start my car, but all the warning lights were on, and it sounded like shit. And, good luck maneuvering around all the abandon vehicles. Friends began telling me of their two-hour journey to go a mile or two to the supermarket in Jersey City.
We decided to drive to the next county — although the next country would be preferable — a good ten miles away, but, after getting through all the blockades, things were no better. The one burger joint in the mall in Paramus that was open had a line a mile long, and the mall itself looked like O’Hare during a snow storm; hundreds of teens camped along the floors waiting for their MacBooks and phones to charge in the working outlets. For some reason, 11th Street in Hoboken still has power, so many of the residents have opened their homes to be used as charging stations.
The few supermarkets in the area with power are mobbed. Tempers are flaring. People are fighting over one place in a line that will take you an hour, anyway. Motorists try to gain the extra advantage that comes from going straight on a street without a working traffic light, but the drivers from the side streets, rather than wait for a chance that may see them there ’til Xmas, cut in completely unexpectedly, causing dozens of near-misses each minute.