Shoppers fight over bottled water, flashlights and lobster… How a city prepared for a very New York hurricane
My flatmate has locked the front door, presumably in the fear that hurricane Irene would try the handle first before barging in.
He also pulled down the blind on the kitchen window, apparently in the belief that it would stop the 100mph gusts should the glass fail to do so.
‘We’ve got to be prepared,’ he said with a face fit for a funeral. ‘Who knows what might happen’.
I thought he was overreacting to the arrival of the storm in New York, but out on the streets I realised it was I who was out of step.
Inevitably the supermarkets became raw wounds of fear, with shoppers stocking up on what they saw as essential provisions to get them through the hard times ahead.
New York city officials had given explicit instructions that everyone should prepare a ‘Go bag’ in case of disaster containing bottled water and nonperishable food such as granola bars.
But in Gristides in 1st Avenue by lunchtime on Saturday the shelves had been cleared of frozen pizzas, pastries and potatoes with plenty of cereal bars to spare.
All of the mulitgrain pitta chips had been taken, although even the prospect of a hurricane was not enough to convince anyone to buy the Italian Harvest flavour.
One woman was carrying a shopping list which included soy sauce, crackers and cider.
At the very top she had written, with a star next to it: ‘Lobster’.
‘It’s not very practical, I know,’ she admitted, her cheeks glowing red with embarrassment.
Also in Gristides Giovanna Levy was doing some last minute shopping. Her basket contained tins of tuna, toothpaste and hot dogs.
She said: ‘This is the second supermarket we’ve been to.
‘We’re going to order in loads of food from restaurants and have it just sitting there ready to eat.
‘We’re not sure where we are going to stay yet. We were thinking about going to a hotel downtown but I don’t think we’re doing that now.’
I asked another lady in her early 20s how she was preparing for what could be the worst natural disaster in 26 years to hit New York.
‘I’ve left my air conditioning unit on all day today so my bedroom is nice and cool,’ she said.
‘If the power goes off it won’t work’. I told her: ‘It seems like a sensible precaution’, and she agreed, nodding her head.
Her boyfriend chipped in: ‘You can’t be too sure’.
Gracefully supermarket on 1st Avenue was closed but through the window you could see there was no bread, only one Yucan gold potato but lots of butternut squash left on the shelves.
At Morton Williams supermarket on 23rd St Beth and Jeff Rooney had stocked up on bagels, cream cheese and peanut butter to see them through.
Mrs Rooney said: ‘We’re not really taking it that seriously. People are acting like there will never be any more food but the trucks will start running tomorrow or Monday.
‘It’s like Christmas, only worse’.
Shops which bragged about staying open 24 hours now looked foolish at best and suicidal at worst.
At the CVS on 23rd st staff had been told the store would close at 9pm on Saturday night and reopen at 10am on Sunday, when Irene was right overhead.
‘I don’t know how they expect us to get into work,’ a lady at the checkout said, referring to the closure of the entire New York transit system.
‘Maybe they’ll get us a flying carpet’.
Throughout Manhattan shop closures were widespread but utterly random.
On 1st Avenue the laundries were open but the bars were shut.
You could get a KFC but you couldn’t get a McDonald’s. You could buy computer games but you couldn’t get a coffee.
You couldn’t get your shoes repaired anywhere, and you definitely couldn’t go to the bank.
On 2nd Avenue you couldn’t even die – a sign on the door of the Andrett Funeral Home read: ‘ We are closed due to hurricane Irene’.
It added: ‘Sorry for the inconvenience’.
The predictable things had, of course, sold out. At Radioshack on 1st there were no digital clocks, radios and just a few batteries left.
At Walgreen’s by Union Square candles were in short supply, as were frozen pizzas again.
One man walked around with two bottles of Gatorade in his basket. An elderly gentleman was waiting in line clutching two bars of Lindt chocolate and four tins of sardines.
The hardware store close to my apartment had sold a number of foam guards which sit on top of air conditioning units to soften the noise of the rain falling onto them.
‘I don’t see the point of it,’ said David Rojas, who was working behind the counter at Town and Village Hardware. ‘I’d be more concerned about whether my building was going to stand up than the noise of the rain’.
At the best of times hearing other people’s conversations gives you an idea about what makes New York tick.
But in the new mood of subdued panic, they offered a chance to really see how people were planning ahead.
‘Is that Worcestershire sauce?’ a girl wearing wellington boots asked her friend in one store. ‘They haven’t got any. Damn. Let’s try somewhere else’.
Another woman scolded her husband as they crossed the road close to Union Square.
‘For God’s sakes Harold,’ she said, ‘We still don’t have the mint tea and we’re running out of time!’
Come on Irene…. – Mail Online
The name Irene is no mere coincidence. It is the operational code name of the LOZ members directing the course of that hurricane. This will be such a crushing for not only the loss of life, but a huge hit to the U.S. economy as no money will be available to rebuild what is about to topple and be brought asunder. Satan has directed nearly all of his demonic forces to scramble and try to force Irene off course. While he does this, watch what the other LOZ operational groups do else where. Satan’s troops cannot be everywhere at once. Another earthquake is in the making, and Satan has pulled his troops out of that battle to halt it. Now he is forced with choosing his battles more wisely. The LOZ are alsi working not only the fault-lines, but also some volcanoes that will set off a chain reaction of devastating events. Soon, the news commentators will questuion as to whether or not this entire planet is breaking apart.