Storm Story

New York City

Hurricane Sandy and after

This is the story of one Wine Sister’s first-hand hurricane experience. As a gesture of support to the many who are trying to rebuild their lives after the storm, Wine Sisterhood and Middle Sister wines will make a donation to the American Red Cross. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. See the end of this post for more ways to help.

 After the storm in Rebel Red’s hometown

After the storm in Rebel Red’s hometown, Freeport, NY


Storm Story

Hi, @mavelicious here. Just got back from the storm zone and wanted to share with you my experiences. I’m lucky to be safe and sound and back in my home, but there are thousands of others who are not and will be dealing with the aftermath of this storm for months to come.

It started out as just another on the road, Wine Sisterhood kind of trip.

I was headed to NYC for a number of important events by way of the 80 Sips tasting event in Denver. Standing in security at San Francisco Airport, I got a call from our Head Wine Sister and Boss Lady Terry. Terry was planning to meet me in NYC. We were slated to attend the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s annual Symposium and Awards Luncheon. Over one hundred fifty of the world’s leading breast cancer researchers were to receive grants from BCRF to continue their fight against the disease. In addition, some of these top scientists would present important information about the newest research and advances against the disease. The events would be in loving memory of BCRF founder Evelyn H. Lauder, an amazing woman who sadly lost her own fight with ovarian cancer late last year.

Many of you know that Terry is a breast cancer survivor. She founded Tough Enough to Wear Pink, the western community’s grass roots effort to support women and families dealing with breast cancer. Terry had a check for $35,000 in her pocket, courtesy of Wrangler the title sponsor of TETWP, to present to BCRF. We were both looking forward to this event—as were 1200 other guests and dignitaries.

“Have you seen CNN this morning?” she asked. “There’s a huge storm predicted to hit New York in a couple of days.”

 I hadn’t been paying attention and thought, hmmm, big storm, ok.

“I’m going to cancel my trip, but you go ahead if you want”, she said.

Maybe because it’s hard to jump out of a security line when you’re finally ALMOST THROUGH, I decided to go ahead. The BCRF events were still scheduled, and how bad could it get. I was staying in a beautiful hotel, going to visit with my daughter who lives in the Lower East side, and attend the BCRF events. I was also scheduled to do a “Best of Brooklyn Food Tour” guest blog for a cool company called Cloud 9 that creates experiential gifts for women, men and couples.

None of this was to be.

When I got back to my Denver hotel room from the 80 Sips tasting, I clicked on the news. Not good. But it was almost midnight and I had a 7:00am flight to JFK.

On Saturday, in the Soho district, the streets were crowded with people, shopping, dining, drinking wine, having a ball. The weather was lovely.

View from Hotel Room in NYCOn Sunday, the news was getting worse. The storm was considered epic. Evacuation updates and survival tips were broadcast continually. They were calling it the Frankenstorm. Everybody except the National Weather Service who thought it was no laughing matter.

On Monday evening, Sandy dropped in.

My daughter and I were tucked in my hotel room high on the 14th floor. The wind was howling, rain coming down, but we felt safe. We had heard that there was a possibility of planned blackouts to preserve the power grid, but I’m thinking, we’re in a good hotel – for goodness sake they must have a generator. No worries.

Sandy HeadlinesSoon, an announcement came over the hotel public address system. Sure, enough ConEd had shut off the power. I looked out the window through the rain—everything had gone dark as far as the eye could see. Shortly, hotel staff began knocking on doors, distributing glow lights (of all things) and letting us know we could drink the mini-bar bottled water and wouldn’t be charged. We figured the lights would be on shortly and tried to sleep.

Morning soon came. The rain and wind has died down to a relatively normal level. But the lights still hadn’t come on. And guess what, when the power is out, the water is out, too. Yes, this means no flushing. It suddenly dawned on me why people were advised to fill up their bathtubs.

Tree down in NYC after SandyMy daughter wanted to check on her gallery and apartment, so we walked down 14 flights of stairs into the aftermath. All the traffic signals were out, most all the stores shuttered. Large limbs and trees littered the sidewalks. A few enterprising bodegas lit their darkened aisles by candlelight and let queues of people looking for water and other provisions in one at a time. Ah Ha moment. This is why they tell you to get cash before a storm. With the power out, we were back to a cash-only, ATM-less society.

The subways were flooded, the buses not operating. But the taxis were still out in force. A ride share system was implemented: ten bucks a passenger uptown or down. Share it with a stranger—who for the length of the ride at least—becomes a friend. Classic New York spirit.

The hotel was trying its best to cope with the situation—the many European families staying there had nowhere else to go. All the airports were shuttered. Cell service was intermittent; the hotel internet was knocked out. I connected briefly with my iPhone Personal Hot Spot to try to see some headlines but wanted to conserve my charge. The news I did catch was beyond grim: major flooding, fires, damage and destruction. Not to mention tragic loss of life.

Unwilling to face another dark night in a hotel room—not to mention the trek up 14 flights of stairs to get to the room— I decided to refugee uptown to the apartment of our Wine Sister, Rebel Red. Oddly enough, although downtown Manhattan was darkened and out of commission, above 34th street had lights, power, water, showers, open restaurants and grocery stores and many other things we all tend to take for granted. We watched for news on when the airports would open again, and shared a glass or two of Middle Sister wine. I was scheduled to depart on Halloween.

Another disaster tip: even if they say the airports have reopened, that doesn’t mean your flight hasn’t been cancelled, even if the airline website says it hasn’t been. If that makes any sense. Long story short, I got to JFK for my scheduled flight and it HAD been cancelled. Next confirmed flight out: Saturday.

Got right on my laptop (connected again thanks to iPhone Personal Hot Spot—couldn’t connect to the airport internet), booked a Hertz car to Baltimore, a flight to Cleveland, a flight to San Francisco. Sixteen hours later, I walked into my front door. Trick or Treat!

I am out of the storm zone now, but my heart goes out to so many who have lost their homes, their businesses and worse, their loved ones. And for everybody else whose lives are still not back to normal.

Cheers to the heroic first responders who, quite literally, rush into danger when everybody is rushing away from it, and to the people who are organizing rescue and relief issues and trying to solve the grave infrastructure problems.

Even if you’re far away, here are some ways you can help:

The Salvation Army is sending hygiene kits, first aid supplies and mobile feeding units to storm victims. It encourages people to text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation. They can also donate by visiting the website or calling 800-SAL-ARMY.

Citymeals-on-Wheels is looking for volunteers to deliver meals in New York. Visit the website or call 212-687-1234 for more information.

Samaritan’s Purse is calling for volunteers to help remove debris and clean up mud. Visit the website for more information.

Save the Children has sent emergency teams to assist children and families. Click here to donate.

World Vision is providing emergency food and flood clean-up kits. To donate, visit here.

Take care everybody,

mav

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