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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Driving through JFK (New York to CT)- 27th August

The flight landed at JFK around 11:30 am EST. It was on time and it was probably one of the fastest walk through immigration counters I have ever experienced.

As I walked through to the immigration counters realised that there were no airplanes parked at JFK accept for one cargo flight which looked like it was getting ready to take off.

You could sense the tension and concern that people were experiencing. The custom official said " All the best, you're lucky to be on the last flight, we're shutting JFK after this"; determined to be in and out of NY quickly, I moved briskly through the airport to my baggage area and was hoping the cab service I had booked was there to get me.

Luckily a very pleasant person with my name was there to get me out from the airport, my curiosity was its peak and natural set of questions were , What time is the storm supposed to hit NY ? Is it still category 3? How is the traffic?
All my questions got answered and the driver was sweet enough to talk me through how people are preparing. Bottom line was:
-The storm had slowed down, now it was supposed to hit NY Sunday morning.
- It was turned to category 2 ; which is 60mph winds
- He filled me on the fact they had a lot of rain last month and that makes the trees unstable with high winds
- High tide tonight (new moon night in this part of the world) which can result in strong storm surge and result in flooding
- People had evacuated the Hampton's and all low lying areas of New York.
- NY subway systems were expected to be flooded and were shut down., which hasn't happened in a long time. It's a big deal as it's the life line for new yorkers and they usually don't own cars

It was more information that i bargained for, leaving me in contemplative mood and there was enough time to spend contemplating. It was a 3 hr drive to CT, I was staying in a long stay hotel in Manchester and getting to the safety of the hotel was my first priority.

As we drove through new york, i couldn't help but realise that the streets were unusually empty. people in general were taking the warning seriously. Then there were couple of traffic jams and both due to accidents, giving a slight sense of panic with drivers as it continued to rain.

The sky didn't look calm, it was dark for early evening and fast moving clouds looked ominous.

I crossed Stamford and the waterfront which is being considered as one of the areas under threat of flooding. Passing through some stores I still saw a lot of people at a walmart and other stores and my driver filled me in that people are preparing for the worse (stocking up on bread and bottled water)

There was a sense of urgency that set in as i realised that next week could be days of no power even at the hotel and worse case if a smaller tornado hits like any other place it could tear apart the place.

Edgy with all these thoughts listening what my driver was prepared for (batteries, torch, water and food). I wanted to get to the hotel and see how I can hold myself for next couple of days.

I reached the hotel checked- in , got a room on the ground floor and then headed out to see what I can get as emergency stock. This is a little unusual for someone like me, I am usually not so proactive. Thinking am i over- reacting ? I got to a nearby target .... guess what I wasn't alone.

There was no bottled water, they had run out of it. I got some juices and picked some snacks and headed back. It was 7pm EST and there was nothing else I could do but sit back and wait.

I switched on the TV and there it was NC had started to take the beating and then they showed Time Square (place where you can walk 5 mt without stepping on someone's shoes), it was deserted, there were a handful of cars and it was pouring.
Everyone including news correspondent were concerned more about high winds tunnelling through the high rise buildings and if hit in full force, what this hurricane can do to these high rise buildings.

New York had come to a stand still !!!! Never thought I would say that

CT was expecting a direct hit, my hotel was 30miles from the path of the storm but I knew Manchester was i bit higher and away from water which gave some safety.
Governors of all states were coming out saying the time to evacuate was over and urging people to stay indoors.
The hit at North Carolina was in progress and now the expectation was less the wind damage but more flooding and falling trees, which seemed much better than earlier expected.

It was midnight and now the storm was expected to hit NYC at 8 am (Sunday morning) which meant maybe around 10am to noon on Sunday where I was..

It was time to sit tight and wait.....

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