- Posted November 11, 2012 by
new york city, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
'Superstorm' Sandy: Your stories
Sandy hitting New York city and New jersey
Election Day in America was a time for the celebration of freedom and the ability to choose. This year it was also a day in New York and New Jersey for rejuvenation and resourcefulness . Down on Fulton Street in lower Manhattan, Jack's Coffee was still closed, the floodwater having entered the basement and wreaked havoc on the wires, but the never-say-die counter workers were out on the street that morning in the freezing wind cheerfully dispensing trademark coffee from large containers. Around the corner on Water Street, Blue School had miraculously reopened, stripping first floor walls bare and restoring power and heat despite the ravages of the flood. Construction crews, teaching staff and parents worked long hours into the cold nights to reach the point on Election Day, where children could happily return to their beloved school.
Up in midtown, Bellevue Hospital remains closed, and NYU Langone Medical Center is not yet accepting inpatients. Employees are at their stations and the Internet is working, as the medical center fights to regain its footing. A week ago in the midst of Superstorm Sandy, when 1st Avenue became a river and NYU was flooded rendering its emergency generators inoperative, doctors and nurses combined forces with police and firemen and paramedics to transfer over 300 patients successfully from the hospital in the middle of the night. Hospital generators have failed before during the blackouts of 1977 and 1990, but nothing had every occurred on this scale. Patients on respirators including 20 babies were successfully brought to other hospitals, with residents from NYU going along to help transfer care.
Everyone has a different story. Some people lost power but still had running water. Others had neither (myself included) but still had a working gas stove. People learned to make do with what they had; throwing out refrigerator food that went bad but storing food in a closed freezer for a day or two to preserve it. If we didn't have running water, we filled the tops of our toilets with water we saved in our bathtubs from before the storm. We shared flashlights and huddled together for warmth. People north of 40th street who still had power reached out to take in people below 40th street who had lost theirs. Those without electricity in Nassau Country went to stay with relatives in areas of Suffolk or Queens that were unaffected.
Far Rockaway and Staten Island and areas of Westchester and New Jersey remained without power amidst a cold wave that still threatens the health of all inhabitants, especially the very old and people with chronic medical conditions. The U.S. military is in town to help us and they are working together with the NYPD, who have done an incredible job keeping things orderly and relatively crime-free. Even our sanitation department is pitching in to help dig out our beach communities still at risk.
Through it all, New Yorkers are showing the same caring and sharing spirit that we showed after 9-11. We may be criticized for being tough and we may be praised for our indomitability, but perhaps its time we also become recognized for our teamwork.
Marc Siegel, MD is an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, Medical Director of Doctor Radio, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a Fox News Medical Contributor.