Live from the Dead Zone — A Guest Post by Charlie

Editors note: Molly’s brother Charlie graciously accepted our invitation to guest blog about his Manhattan adventures , south of 30th street in the wake of Hurricane Sandy…

After the power went out, everything changed.

At 8:30 Monday night, pinned in my apartment by an approaching hurricane, I decided to make nachos for my roommates and me. As I opened our microwave, the power went out. (I later found out, much to my ego’s disappointment, that my opening the microwave didn’t take away 7% of the country’s power. An exploding transformer actually caused the blackout. You can view that video here )

When the power first went out, we didn’t realize it would be days until the electricity came back. We spent that first night playing board games by candlelight, naïve to the destruction happening outside. One building down the street from us even lost it’s façade due to the wind. View that video here

(Crucial Side Note: I won the board game we played.)

When we woke up Tuesday morning, we quickly realized we were living in a new world. No power meant no heat, no hot water. My cell phone signal had been knocked out, so I could only communicate with the outside through a landline very few people could access.

We heard rumors there was still power north of 30th Street, so we decided to head north to try to charge our cell phones and find out what was going on.

We went to a friend’s apartment on 49th street. When we arrived, she observed how shell-shocked we were at all the technology she had: lights, cable, Internet — she even had ice. I don’t know why she was so surprised by our reactions; she was still living in a world that 18 hours earlier had been completely erased for us.

It became apparent that there were now two Manhattans. The Manhattan north of the power outage was virtually unchanged by the hurricane, restaurants were full; everyone had power and all the little luxuries that came with it. But those of us south of about 30th street were all now living the Dead Zone.

We adjusted surprisingly quickly to our new lives. Each morning when I’d wake up I’d boil a pot of water and take it with me into a shower lit only by candlelight. Mixing the hot water with the freezing water coming out of the shower head made getting clean a bearable experience. Then I’d pack a backpack with a change of clothes, my toiletries in case I needed them, a flashlight and breakfast bars, and I’d step out into the madness of the Dead Zone, hoping to find a taxi to get me to work.

At the end of work each day, I’d make the 45 minute hike home, past all the restaurants bustling with activity. If I was lucky I could catch a football score on a TV through a window. Even if I wasn’t paying attention, I knew I was getting close to home when all of a sudden, my cell phone went dead, every restaurant and storefront stood closed, and bright red flares replaced working traffic lights, and green police cadets that were in over their head frantically tried to direct traffic.

By the end of the week, I realized I was beginning to resent those with power, people I used to consider friends. They didn’t know what it was like in the Dead Zone, to make dinner out of semi-thawed hamburger patties salvaged from a powerless freezer. I realized that the rift between us was irreparable and that from now on I could only fraternize with Dead Zoners. My roommate Devin was beginning to share my resentment, so at about 6 o’clock on Friday, we decided to drown our sorrows in the two room temperature beers left in our fridge. As soon as I touched the bottle to my lips, our lights turned on and primal cheers of joy could be heard throughout our neighborhood. The power was back and with it our dignity. We had survived the Dead Zone and were better because of it.

***On a serious note, there are still many in Staten Island, Long Island and New Jersey who are really suffering because of this hurricane. If you’re able, please donate to them here.

This is me, pre-Sandy, enjoying an evening in Manhattan.
This is the cover of this week’s New York Magazine. You can see where the Dead Zone was compared to the rest of the bourgeois Manhattanites that still had power.
This is the candelabra that lit our apartment best when we didn’t have power. I bought it for $1.50 years ago and had only used it as a hat rack pre-Sandy.
This is a recreation of how I would bring a boiling pot of water into the shower with me. We learned how to survive on our own in the Dead Zone.
After the power came back on, the first thing I watched was Sports Center. Hopefully I never have to check scores through strangers’ windows again

4 thoughts on “Live from the Dead Zone — A Guest Post by Charlie

  1. This is awesome Charlie. Such devastation for so many. It is hard not to follow all the news on TV. I pray for all the displaced people. I would love to be able to hop on a plane & come out & help. Stay safe my friend.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.