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November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Power Outage in Manhattan

Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeastern United States last week with a wallop, and the storm surge flooded many parts of New Jersey and New York. A water-induced explosion at a Con Edison utility on 14th St., downtown Manhattan, left all of the island below 39th Street without power for days. The power is back on in Manhattan now, but still out for hundreds of thousands of New York and New Jersey residents. I decided to venture out on Friday morning, as things started to calm down, and draw some of what I saw in a Manhattan without electricity. The drawing above was made on Broadway and 26th St., above the Flatiron building, the line where the power ended. Even in daylight the buildings below 26th St. looked dark, and all of the streetlights had blacked out. You can see the NY cop at the intersection, guiding pedestrians and traffic. It was a strange sight.

 Above is the scene at Union Square, where utility trucks from companies all over the United States were parked. The Con Edison utility headquarters is nearby, and they were all here to help - thank you!
 In the lobby of Con Edison, many local New Yorkers were getting warm and charging their phones and tablets at the long power strips the company had set out for them. Many stores along the edge of the power divide in NYC put out strips like this and it was not unusual to see crowds lined up to use them.
This was the scene at Avenue D and 11th Street, across from a public housing project. People in the projects were hardest hit in Manhattan, since most of them didn't have friends or relatives uptown that they could camp out with for the duration. The National Guard was giving out food, blankets, diapers, water and hot meals.
Even with the National Guard giving out water, more was needed. Fire hydrants in the neighborhood were opened up, and people were filling buckets and bottles with water, and washing vegetables for cooking.

There was evidence of the flooding all over lower Manhattan - trees down, cars abandoned full of leaves and driftwood, and people throwing out their ruined belongings on the sidewalks. The subway tunnels flooded out and there were long lines on Thursday and Friday night for buses bringing commuters to Brooklyn from their Manhattan offices.
There are still so many people without power and basic amenities outside of Manhattan, not to mention loss of lives and homes due to Sandy. 
There are more drawings on my personal blog if you'd like to read more about what I saw on Friday morning.
Please consider donating to the Red Cross if you can. Thank you from New York City.
posted by Veronica Lawlor


Thor said...

I've been waiting for these first hand reports. Amazing work as always. Does your studio have power?


VHein said...

Bravo, Veronica! Beautiful drawings, and as always, inspiring reportage. Very best wishes.


I feel sorry about the situation Veronica. Your sketches, are very impressive and powerful, as always. Seeing them you can really feel the dramatic situation that you passed by. I hope people soon get back to normal. Great reportage.

Veronica Lawlor said...

Thank you for your thoughts everyone. Yes, Thor, we have power. thankfully.

Don McNulty said...

Yes, great reportage, both drawings and narrative.

Murray Dewhurst said...

Awesome reportage Veronica! I particularly like the sketch of people charging their devices on power strips, a graphic reminder of how reliant we are on technology today.

Shiho Nakaza said...

Thank you for taking the time to do powerful reportage drawings. I hope for a speedy recovery.

Lynne the Pencil said...

Great record of events. Well done for getting out there, despite your own problems.

Marcia Milner-Brage said...

I agree with all of the above. I'd like to see a couple of these added to the Urban Sketcher Flickr group Weekly Theme: Storms.

Rolf Schröter said...

very atmospheric drawings, really impressive.

Pedro said...

Great report!
My daughter lives in NYC but is rather economic in news.
You give us a lot of information about what is really happening!

Behzad Bagheri said...

Great reportage. I also wish for a speedy recovery.

Cristina said...

Every time something hits NY you are there! Wonderful report, it's great to have your street view of the facts. I hope everything returns to it's place as soon as possible.