Culture on the Run Miss N

C’mon Irene – Waiting for the Hurricane

Hurricane IrenePic: MTA

Turns out I’m not the only one experiencing new things in New York. New Yorkers are going through something that’s new to many of them too, because it hasn’t been experienced in decades – a hurricane in the Big Apple. Preparation for which, created the scenario above of an almost empty Grand Central Station.

In the past 24 hours, Hurricane Irene has been talked about, analysed and scrutinized over and over in an effort to prepare for this rare event here in New York. I, like many others, have wondered just how badly Irene will hit, when she finally gets here. We have been waiting and waiting, watching one raincoat-clad reporter after another give us their view from whichever part of Irene’s path they are in. In fact, the waiting game itself has been given its own hash-tag, #ComeonIrene, playing on the song by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

I am not in an area considered dangerous – ie, at risk of high flooding – so wasn’t made to leave, in one of the many mandatary evacuations put in place by Mayor Bloomberg (Zone A). But it became apparently clear that he and city officials were going all out to be prepared, and even ordered the MTA system of trains and busses to be shut down at noon today. That has never happened before.

As a result many places closed, while others (mostly bars) tried to take advantage of the situation.

Earlier today, along Carl Schulz Park by the East River (Zone B), the scene was laid-back beautiful, as people walked their dogs, went running or just came outside to see if they “could see anything happening”.

The pictures of empty tourist spots are so strange to see. Online streams of Times Square and Lower Manhattan show deserted streets and it really has quietened the city down in an unprecedented way, as many have said. One man I spoke to suggested it’s a good thing because it means the City that Never Sleeps can perhaps finally get some.

So as I pack away the jelly beans and call off the search for a Hurricane Ken (who was born out of this Village Voice column), I’ll also try get some sleep, before another day of waiting begins.

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