Average daily ridership on New York City buses and subways is about 8.5 million. Today it was, approximately, zero.
That meant a day off for Wall Street, but for thousands of commuters, and families who were stranded after evacuating low-lying areas, staying put wasn't an option.
Superstorm Sandy Transforms Commute
We spoke today with undeterred New Yorkers as they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which has served as a primary artery between Manhattan and Brooklyn since 1870.
Terrence Bomman, 50, walked from 59th Street in Manhattan across the bridge on his way to his home in Crown Heights in Brooklyn, a trip of more than 8 miles.
"This is the only way to get home," said Bomman, stopping amid the rain and wind on the bridge on Tuesday afternoon. Bomman said he'd been out of work for a year and a half before getting his current job as a security guard at the Time Warner Center 10 months ago. He would do whatever it took to be there. He slept in the locker room at work from Sunday to Tuesday, and said he'll walk back when his next shift starts on Friday if he must.
"They said, 'If you can't make it, you can't make it.' But if I have to I'll walk back, because I'm just glad to have the job," Bomman said.
"I'm not coming back until the power comes back on."
A bicycler named Ania Gozdz, 34, wore a poncho as she pedaled her way across the Brooklyn Bridge. She lives in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea and lost power last night. She heard it may not return until Friday. Gozdz was making her way to a friend's house in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
"I'm not coming back until the power comes back on," she said. On the bright side, she noted, "I've never seen traffic more polite in New York City than today."
Jordan Bowen and Ann Marie Scudri, both 27, walked on the bridge toward Bowen's apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a neighborhood near the waterfront that had seen major flooding in streets, basements and first floor apartments and storefronts. Bowen had evacuated yesterday to Scudri's apartment on 22nd Street in Manhattan.
"We were at 22nd Street having the time of our lives -- we had supplies, booze," and everything they needed, Bowen said. Then the power went out around 9 or 9:30 p.m., they said. They decided to walk back to Bowen's Red Hook place today, where they'd heard there may be electricity.
"We're going to Brooklyn because there's power," Scudri said.
Red Hook Store Owners Collect Grim Remains
Red Hook, a trendy, post-industrial waterfront neighborhood with views of the Statue of Liberty, took a direct hit from Superstorm Sandy. Factory loft apartments were flooded by storm surge waters last night, and today residents who ignored a mandatory evacuation order emerged to assess the damage.
This morning, the streets were slicked with oil after several feet of water receded, stranding cars. We spoke with business owners along Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, who shared pumps to try to rid their basements of water visible through open hatches from street level.
"All the businesses are banding together," said Leisah Swenson, owner of the wine bar Home/made on Van Brunt.
Power went out in the neighborhood at about 8 p.m. yesterday, just as the storm system made landfall in southern New Jersey. Wires snaked along the ground, amid tree branches, store awnings and other storm jetsam.
"We just keep passing pumps around," Swenson said.
At the Brooklyn Ice House bar, water rose higher than the booth seats. Pumps ran off a generator outside, and filthy, flood-soiled beer steins were stacked on the bar. The bar was "pretty much ruined," said owner Trevor Budd, 39, an Australian who's owned the watering hole for almost five years.
Up the street at the Red Hook Lobster Pound, bags of hamburger buns and potato chips littered the floor after water flooded the premises and left it mostly in ruin.
Jesse Gorham, the 13-year-old son of owner Ralph, surveyed the damage. "One thing I know is soda can't go bad, so I'm going to get a soda," he said.
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