Michael and I walked down to the river front park in Williamsburg to see what we could see. I took my trusty little digital camera, and here is what we saw.
The contrast between darkened Lower Manhattan and the rest of the city was stark.
This is the third day of the Hurricane Sandy blackout going into a 4th. This is a major hardship for thousands of people, but especially for elderly shut-ins in the housing projects on the Lower East Side. Not only are all the lights out (it gets pitch dark in the hallways of these buildings, I speak from experience), but the elevators are out, and in buildings over 6 floors, there is no running water, no toilets. Tall buildings require pumps to move water through the plumbing, and when the electricity goes out, so do the pumps.
Food is starting to become a major problem in Lower Manhattan. There is no refrigeration and no deliveries. All but the hardiest delis and bodegas are closed. Those few that are open don't have much to sell and are only taking cash. Restaurants and diners are closed. Most perishable food has spoiled by now. So, there are now large efforts, both public and private, to get food and fresh drinking water into Lower Manhattan.
I have a lot of friends who live in Lower Manhattan, and I'm slowly hearing from all of them. Some have left to stay with friends and relatives for the duration. Others are staying, and are determined to tough it out. So far as I know, there has been no looting in Manhattan, though blacked out Coney Island suffered some looting. People are looking out for each other, especially for their elderly neighbors.
After this crisis, after the 2003 Blackout, and especially after September 11th, I agree more and more with Albert Camus' conclusion that ordinary people are better than the experts claim. This most nakedly Social Darwinist of all cities ("New York, Where the Weak are Killed and Eaten" said a tee shirt I saw years ago) can really pull together in times of crisis.