New Yorkers are famously aggressive at times and surprisingly compassionate at
others – and they have a knack for coming together in times of
Both of those tendencies surfaced on Monday as parts of lower
Manhattan were paralyzed by Hurricane Sandy, with several subway lines and
important highways such as the FDR Drive underwater. Bridges and tunnels were
shut down. Millions of people were left without electricity.
One of them
was Lauren Hutter, an advertising executive who lives in Gramercy Park – an
upscale address on the city’s east side below 23rd Street, which was hit
particularly hard. With her cellphone dying and no electricity to plug into, she
decided to venture out Monday after the worst of the storm had passed, hoping to
hail a cab uptown to visit friends who still had power.
“It feels like a
scene out of Survivor, with trees everywhere and people looking a bit
desperate,” she said in a phone interview after an eerie walk downtown. “People
are out roaming aimlessly, looking for what to do and how to get
With subways down, buses stopped and most bridges and tunnels
closed, however, most people quickly learned there was nowhere to go, except on
Hutter, 42, walked down eight flights of stairs – the elevator was
out – and found that the doorman’s phone was still working, even though her
cellphone was out of service because the local network, AT&T, had shut
“I don’t know many young people who have a land line at home
anymore,” she noted. “Most of us rely on cellphones, and so when that’s out, who
even has a land line to turn to?” Nearly everything was closed, except for one
New York deli, which was running on a generator.
“There were people
lining up to get in, stretching three city blocks long, and people were fighting
on the line over who was there first,” she said.
The next mission:
hailing a cab. With public transportation paralyzed and some people afraid to be
on the road, taxis were few and far between. Approximately one-third of cab
drivers couldn’t get to their depots for lack of public
“I headed over to Park Avenue and dedicated myself to
getting a cab. Finally one came, and I went flying across the street to stop it,
and at the same time, another young woman had jumped out and was trying to get
the same taxi,” Hutter said.
“We looked at each other with a bit of
sympathy and agreed to share.”
Not only is that rare in New York, it’s
technically illegal. Taxi drivers are not allowed to stop to pick up a second
passenger once they’ve picked up one already.
However, given the
emergency circumstances, the city’s taxi authority signed an order allowing
drivers to take multiple passengers – whether the passengers agreed to it or
Meanwhile, in the storm’s aftermath, airlines serving the American
northeast continued to cancel flights to and from Ben- Gurion
Tuesday’s US Airways flight US-797 from Tel Aviv to Philadelphia
and United Airlines flight UA-91 had already been canceled by early evening,
while El Al flights LY-027 to Newark, New Jersey and LY-001 to New York were
still listed as delayed on Ben-Gurion’s live website. The first El Al flight was
delayed from 12:35 a.m. until 5:40 a.m., and the second was delayed from 1 a.m.
until 7:40 a.m., the airline’s website said.
Flights to Israel from
northeastern US airports were canceled for Tuesday, but there was no decision
yet by press time regarding whether flights Wednesday and onward would be
Some Israelis hoping to return home soon were on their toes
waiting to hear if their flights for the next few days would still be
Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth from Ra’anana has a flight scheduled for
Wednesday evening, which he said he hoped would take place as
Neuwirth, who weathered the storm on Manhattan’s Upper West
Side, was among the lucky few in the city who did not lose power.
didn’t suffer from any power outage,” he told The Jerusalem Post on
“Here and there, you see some branches on the roads, but no
scary things have happened.”
He said that prior to the storm, he had
debated whether to leave New York for another part of America, but ultimately
decided to stay.
Even if his flight does leave on Wednesday, he added, he
hopes he can actually get out of the city over the George Washington Bridge to
Newark Airport, as all of the tunnels are flooded.
“My advice is, next
time there is a storm and you’re stuck, go to the Upper West Side,” he said,