Hurricane Sandy hits and the days after

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Hello beautiful friends!

My story begins with empty rooms and a lobby filled with students clutching their candles and flashlights.

This is how we arrive to the scene:

It has been such a long while. Well– not really; but kind of. It has been a crazy week to say the least. After my last post, about ten minutes later, we lost power. Almost immediately after losing power, some windows from a neighboring building blew out, so darkness was followed by a startling crash of shattering glass.

Darkness followed; a couple of trips up and down the stairs with a candle. I got candle wax on some corduroy pants (no idea how to get it out, I keep rubbing it which I think makes it worse). We were in the dark and cold for seven days. There was no power, no warm water, no heater (and it was freezing outside), no phone signal and no internet. That whole week, we were in the midst of disaster, and we had no idea how bad it was because none of us had communication to the outside world.  We were really blessed. It could have been worse. The flooding didn’t reach us, but it was about 6 blocks away.

Anyway, here are some images and bits and pieces of what kept us going while Sandy was ripping the city to shreds.

-Psalm 38: 9,10, 15

“Lord all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. My heart panteth, my strength faileth me; as for the light in my eyes, it also is gone from me. For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.”

My mom sent me these verses: Psalm 91: 15 & 16

“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”

By: Gabriela Yareliz
One of the only places open the morning after. They were selling coffee (the fix for the desperate New Yorkers) and hot breakfast sandwiches.
By: Gabriela Yareliz
Street View
Me in the dark.
Me in the dark.

I was so blessed this week with a friend of mine who was gracious to let me come with him to his dad’s office in midtown so we could try to study in warmth with light and charge our devices. This was the only place I’d get signal. We would walk almost 40 blocks a day to get there. Who knew Midtown and Times Square were so close? Past 34th St. Manhattan was a different world. Even H&M was open down there. Walking up 5th Ave. was magical in its own way. I saw the Flatiron building, Eataly, a nice park that was closed, but the sunshine would go through the trees. The sky was gray, but it seemed that at that park, there was always sunshine. The streets were empty and dirty. Oxford Cafe has the best Eggplant Panini. I sat there one day eating in slow motion, so I could enjoy the heat and light. I shared a table with two young people who work in a real estate office nearby. I met a nice Punjabi gentleman who works there.

Con Ed people were everywhere. Trucks from all over the country took over Union Square. By Thursday, I began to get signal in front of a virgin Mary look alike at the park (it would make anyone catholic, nah? Kidding). Saigon Market on University Place had a charging station. They were also super nice.

People pulled together. Because devices and technology were down; people actually talked to each other. We sat in rooms together playing games, talking in the dark lobby, sharing food the university was providing–we met our neighbors and chattered nervously with people in line, realizing we had the same hopes.

Guys stopped shaving, girls had no makeup and stringy hair (because rumor had it, the water was contaminated, and it was coming out orange)….we had philosophical conversations, played 20 questions and truth or dare. God helped us through.

On Sabbath morning the building next door had lights. I was trying to get ready by my open window, trying to get some light (but it wasn’t working–my room is dark even during the day without light). When I noted the next door building’s lights I thought to myself, Have I been living this whole morning as if I had no power, but we do? I ran to the light switch and flipped it, and nothing. What a disappointment.

When the power came on this is how I felt!!! (One of my favorite songs to jam to)

kajra re kajra re tere kare kare naina

In the end, all izz well– and it is amazing how God can keep us sane despite the frustration of being in the dark always, and how Bollywood can light the darkest of days. A song in your heart– I can’t tell you enough how important it is to keep one there for the dark, cold days.

I hope people don’t forget how to be human, how we can uplift each other by talking to one another…

Now, with the power, heat and internet, the lobby is empty, and the rooms are filled.

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