Sunday, 28 August 2011

Hurricane Irene hits New York, City of Islands. Are you safe East Coasters?


"The edge of Hurricane Irene hit New York, bringing torrential rain and fears of widespread flooding. Irene is the first hurricane to hit the Big Apple in a generation. Overnight there's been lightning, reports of tornadoes and deafening rainfall. The city was a ghost town after 370,000 people evacuated flood-prone areas, including near Wall Street and Coney Island. "The edge of the hurricane is finally upon us," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a press conference. "Nature is a lot stronger than the rest of us.""

We all love New York. The idea of New York bemuses those of us who've never had the fortune to visit the city regarded as the centre of the world. Thanks to Hollywood, American singers, and the general spread of American culture, even those of us living at the bottom of the world feel we know New York. She is a world city. She belongs to us all.

It is easy to forget New York is a city of islands and was once the world's busiest harbour.  So when the news says a hurricane is heading her way, we do a double take and say like, whaaatt??

Of New York's five boroughs, only the Bronx is on the mainland. For most of its 388-year history from the arrival of the first Dutch settlers, Manhattan was America's ultimate port, its shores criss-crossed by ferries and transports, the East River and the Hudson River as busy as I imagine Fifth Avenue is today.

When Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick, New York's waterfronts bristled with the masts of sailing ships. By the time Marlon Brando starred in On the Waterfront (shot in Hoboken) the maritime tradition had gone awry thanks to air travel and New Jersey's takeover of container shipping. By the 1980s, New York Harbour was derelict, a pile of rotting piers.

Happily I hear there is a renaissance taking place. Crumbling piers have become chic eateries, party venues and art installations.

Governors Island

Governors Island intrigues me. I've read novels where it was full of spy activity and sounded so dark and creepy. Now it's a showpiece apparently, a gem off the glittering southern tip of Manhattan. Instead of being occupied by the US Army and the Coast Guard, it is now filled with quaint Victorian barracks and officers' houses dating back to the Civil War. On summer weekends, free ferries bring people across from Battery Park to spend a day in the leafy oasis ringed with imported golden sand.

We thought the Hudson River had an airstrip in the middle, but apparently it's had an overhaul too and now New Yorkers are being told they can eat fish caught in it, so clean has it become.

I've never been to New York, and only recently started to think I just might go there. Until now the only Statue of Liberty I've seen is the mini version in Paris (a gift from the Americans).

All I know about Coney Island I've learned from films and aVan Morrison song about his Coney Island.

The big picture of the Big Apple comes from the music of Frank Sinatra.

I've never seen Ellis Island except in all those mini series and movies with the poor Irish immigrants arriving. How cool would it be to walk the halls seen in The Godfather:Part 11.

New York, City of Islands, I hope you survive Irene, clean yourself up, welcome your people back, stand tall and shine!
Other East Coasters hit by Irene, I wish you well and offer condolences to those who've lost loved ones and property!

I'll leave you with Van Morrison's Coney Island...and I know he's Irish and is singing about another Coney Island, but he moves me to think of New York...

  • Do you live in New York?
  • Have you been to New York?
  • What can you add to my post? Do I have my facts straight?
  • Have you been affected by Hurricane Irene? Share your story...


joanne fox said...

I've never been to NY, but I'd love to, even though I'm not really a city person. Would just love to see it for myself.

I just finished reading Colm Toibin's novel 'Brooklyn' which is the story of one of those Irish immigrants in the 1950s. Really liked it. Also really like that Van Morrison song - his voice always makes me feel so chilled out and happy!

Hope Irene doesn't linger too long. Thinking of everyone on that east coast.

Denise Covey said...

Yes, East Coasters, be safe!
Joanne, I haven't read 'Brooklyn' but I love Colm Toibin's novels so will get there! Thanks for reminding me.


Ann said...

I lived in NY for the first five years we lived in the US. Brooklyn to be exact. Have been back to visit a few times. I love that city. Love the vibrancy of it.

Denise Covey said...

Ann, great to hear. I didn't know you'd lived there. Lucky you and Brooklyn too! Yep, we all hear about the energy you'll find nowhere else.

Denise said...

I'd love to visit NY some day. When I'm rich I shall do a Xmas shopping trip! We haven't got hurricanes but the wind has got up and the chill factor has made me don my winter woolies. Take care x

Denise Covey said...

Madeleine, Times Square at Christmas looks pretty good, or at least it did in Home Alone...Ah, winter is about to end here, Spring will spring in a couple of days. Our winter forgot to get very cold at all.


Anonymous said...

My parents are from New York City. Their parents came through Ellis Island by boat at the turn of the century. It's always had a special place in my heart for a number of reasons.

Denise Covey said...

Liz you have some interesting history there. My great-grandfather was Irish but he came to Australia. So many people have some NY connection.


Talli Roland said...

I've been to NYC several times, and each time is like a shot of adrenaline. I LOVE IT! Hoping everyone on the East Coast (my relatives included, in Nova Scotia) stay safe.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Talli. Was forgetting how close Nova Scotia is to the hurricane path. We can only hope all are safe.


Anonymous said...

I am not from New York but visited with the fam when I was a kid. I'd love to do some book signings and morning show interviews there. What a hoot that would be.

mshatch said...

I was in NYC once, stayed somewhere in Manhattan. It was only for a weekend though. I'd love to spend two weeks there; that might be just enough to get a feel for the place and see things.

As for Irene, here in Midcoast Maine it is a little windy right now, raining off and on, but I wouldn't call it stormy - yet.

Claire Robyns said...

Hoping everyone keeps safe over there. I've never been to NY, never been to USA actually, but it does feel as if I kinda know it what with so many movies set there - of course, with all my knowledge coming from movies and books, it's probably not to be trusted too much. But I did just set my latest book in Manhattan and, with buckets of help from my NY savvy editor, hope I got it right :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've been to New York. The city that never sleeps. (Like Vegas.) Glad they took the huricane serious, because it's slow moving and still capable of causing a lot of damage.

Heather said...

I've been to New York, New York once and it is a big, loud, fantastic city that feels like the center of known civilization.

I worry for my friends that live there and hope the hurricane left them unscathed.

Bess Weatherby said...

Hey thanks Denise! You describe the city so well, I would have believed you have visited. And you SHOULD. The harbor is so fun and full of interesting cafes and shops. The old meat-packing district is super-trendy now, too.

I'm in Cape Cod right now, but have lived in New York for the past year. Am listening to Irene barrel through right now and it is WINDY. But we're gonna be a-ok.

I am so sad I wasn't in the city for the hurricane. I live in downtown Manhattan, and I can tell you what everyone was doing last night -- partying. Thats what we did during blizzards, too. When everything is closed and you're stuck in an apartment the size of anyone else's closet (you think I'm kidding), there is nothin else worth doing. My roommates got wine and toasted Irene, opened the windows and listened to the storm. It seems like the rest of the country did all our worrying for us!

Anonymous said...

Years ago, 1970, I was living in Connecticut with my first husband; had just had my fourth child, my son. My husband babysat while I with my neighbor to Hicksville, NY. Yes, there's a Hicksville, a train ride away from Manhattan. It was where Rosemary had grown up. We stayed at her parents' house and on Saturday morning rode the train into the city.

We saw the big toy store, FAO Schwartz; Tiffany's, the big jewelry store (as in Breakfast at Tiffany's); went into bookstores. Strolled near Central Park (Rosemary's father warned us away from strolling through it, but I wish we had). Had lunch in a Greek restaurant. Went to a broadway play, Forty Carats, starring Eva Gabor (the only play my friends' mother could get tickets for us--everything else was sold out); in the evening went to a movie theater and saw a Barbra Streisand flick (can't at the moment remember what it was).

I was from the West (Utah) and had daydreamed, as a teenager who wanted to be a writer, of going to New York and working in a publishing house. Now I know it would not have been a wonderland that I thought it would be when I was young. But that Saturday in NYC when I was 30 years old seemed like a wonderland. What a day it was! Yes, you should visit it some day. You would LOVE it.

So that's my New York story. Before this day is over (Sunday here) I intend to send you a critique of your Romantic Friday story (it's excellent). That's my goal!

And thanks for taking the time to put up such a wonderful post. You always post such awesome visuals! LOVE these!!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

Sarah Tokeley said...

I've never been to America but there are so many parts of it I wish I could see. I have a secret wish to visit Coney Island :-)

I hope you're all safe and well.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

In another lifetime it seems I was in New York. My memories of would seem as out of date as Steve Rogers' (Capt. America who awoke after being frozen for 75 years!)

My prayers are with all those who have survived Irene and who have been wounded by 9-11 (Its anniversary is this week.) Roland

Nas said...

Hope everyone's safe in New York. I would love to visit it sometime in the future.

Being from a tropical country where one of our season is Hurricane, my thoughts are with New Yorkers at this difficult time.

Denise Covey said...

NYC seems to have magic. Lovely stories coming in. I've been enjoying reading all your comments. Makes me want to go there!

Yes Nas, down here we have cyclones and I have lived through many of those. I understand what Bess says. There is an adrenalin rush involved and the best way to meet this type of weather is with bravado.


Theresa Milstein said...

I'm safe! Didn't have much steam by the time it made it to Cambridge, Massachusetts, thought it did break some branches.

I have several relatives in New York without power. Thanks for the nice NY tribute, Denise.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I have been to NY about 10 years ago. I loved it so much. I found it really easy to get around and it was so cool recognising a whole bunch of places I'd only seen on tv or in movies. Hehehe. I'd love to go back one day.

Denise Covey said...

Theresa, you're welcome. Glad you missed most of it. I hear the Catskills are really taking a thrashing and that New Jersey was badly hit.

Lynda: Lucky you. I thought I'd have to get a guide or I'd be hopelessly lost. Yet it may be easier than making my way around medieval hill towns in Italy, ha ha ha.


Ruth Schiffmann said...

Hi Denise,
I'm a fellow campaigner in the short stories group and a new follower stopping by to say hello. I've never been to New York, but I did experience Irene. Thankfully, we got off easy with just high winds that made for a nice day with the family all in one place!

Lydia Kang said...

I flew out from the East coast just before the storm hit. Luckily, my family is all safe, but a bunch of them have no power right now. I'm just glad it wasn't worse!

Denise Covey said...

inluvwithwords: Hello fellow campaigner and short story writer!Glad you escaped the worst of Irene.

Lydia: Glad you got out just before it hit. My daughter also got out just before the Christchurch NZ earthquake. Timing.

It seems NYC missed the worst. Now heading to Canada!


Jes said...

Yet another Campaigner on the trail; I'm in the Short Story group with you.

I've been watching Hurricane Irene on TV throughout the weekend, thank heaven it didn't turn out as bad as it could have--though I'm buried safely in the middle of the continent! I do like New York though--my favorite thing are the amount of sidewalk book sales. Holy b'jeebers, what heaven for book worms like me! Midwestern cities are too spread out for that sort of thing, lol. Second favorite thing is that everyone walks at a decent place--and if your pace is faster, people seem to intuitively scoot over. Fabulous. I'm a Type B writer, but a Type A walker, lol.

Happy writing!

Denise Covey said...

Jes: Great to meet you. Oh sidewalk books, say no more, I'm coming to NY! I'm a runner, but I'm sure I could slow down to become a Type A walker if the need arose. Can't go too fast or I might miss all those books.

Sounds like Irene is still pelting some places.


Unknown said...

What a great look at NYC. I've been there a few times and love the city. It's always so full of life. I could imagine it as deserted. I hope everyone stays safe.

Adina West said...

A wonderful post on the ways in which NY has become part of the consciousness even of those of us who have never been there.

And I second your sentiment - the idea of a huge city like that being hit by a hurricane seems odd somehow.

Stay safe everyone...

Denise Covey said...

Clarissa: Lucky you for having been there.I imagine those deserted streets looked very weird. A good setting for a Roland Yeomans' drama.

Adina: Definitely part of our shared consciousness. Thanks for visiting!


J.C. Martin said...

What an interesting post in honour of a cosmopolitan city! Thank you! And to all East Coasters, stay safe!

Denise Covey said...

So great that you came by JC. Yes, it's not over yet!


Stacy S. Jensen said...

Never been to New York. I'm glad the storm wasn't as strong as everyone expected, but the flooding and power outages have really hurt a lot of folks. My thoughts are also with those on the east coast.

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