Hurricane Sandy and the Obliteration of a Safe North East

by davidbrommer

Chelsea Pier on the Hudson River Monday October 29th

I’m not sure I know where I’m going with this blog post. Being a Manhattanite effected by the super storm Hurricane Sandy I was one of millions who lived through an interesting time to say the least. It was the week of Photo Plus East, the massive imaging trade show at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center  and we had just finished up a grueling week of camera a photo education. My favorite holiday, Halloween was a few days away and the reports of a “Frankentstorm” started being reported. The Saturday before the storm the government and media really started to talk about it. The presidential election was in the fury of its last days and even that took a back seat to the impending storm.

By Sunday it was obvious, we would be getting hit, and get hit bad. Hurricane Sandy was killing people in Caribbean, and she was moving up the eastern seaboard slowly. From the mid west of the USA a massive low pressure cold front was heading towards the Atlantic and would collide with Sandy far off the coast of the Carolinas. The weather scientists were saying this was more than the perfect storm, this was something we haven’t seen yet. Ominous.

As a photographer and not a first responder I decided I would continue shooting the event. Knowing that power was most likely going to go out, I set to charging all batteries and devices. Monday everything was closed or closing. Hurricane Sandy was approaching. I was going to fall back on photographer mode. I shot these all with the Fujifilm XPro1 with the 18mm f 2.0 lens over the next week. Images were shot in JPEG and then converted to black and white with Nik Silver Efx 2.

When the impending storm was just innocent fun.

Bottled Water was the first thing to run out. Monday the 29th.

The Mayor’s office began mandatory evacuations and broke the city into three zones. Zone A was expecting severe flooding and on Sunday they ordered evacuation from a block from our building. The Chelsea galleries are famous in this neighborhood, and they would be right smack in the center of Zone A.

The Galleries of Chelsea braced for the impact, and flooding.

Things we take for granted, like access to our parks closed and locked up.

Art in NYC is bad ass. They stop for nothing.

The wind picked up Monday night and the storm smacked into Manhattan around 7:30 p.m.. I pretty much stopped shooting at this point and waited out the storm. We lost power shortly afterward.

and then the lights went out. The storm had hit Manhattan. 8:16 PM Monday the 29th.

I thought I had eclipsed my fathers wisdom was “a know it all”. Turns out Dad can still dispense with good advice, he had recommended we fill the bath tub with water. I followed Dad’s advice and was very glad because when the power went, so did the water. I shall not doubt my fathers capacity for wisdom again, if we had not had a bath tub of water to use to flush the toilette that would have put a huge damper on the next 5 days.

News became a luxury in a dark city. The morning of October 30th.


Manhattan had taken its hit. Overall not too bad, severe flooding and a few downed trees. However three other parts of New York, Breezy Point in Queens, The Rockaways (out by JFK airport) and Staten Island would get a hammering of epic proportions. On election day, November 6th I took a trip with Brandon Remler to Staten Island to survey the damage. What I saw will be forever in my mind of the power of nature and the futility of man to thrive in her shadow.

Cleaning up after the massive flood in Staten Island. Sense of humor is still dominant in New Yorkers. November 7th, 7 days after Sandy landed.

Boats in Midland Park Staten Island, tossed like kid’s toys.

The boats created a surreal sense of place, all out of place.

The scope of property damage was unreal.

Homes pushed off their foundations by storm surges.

In some places, the ground itself was washed away.

I witnessed devastation, but also a community united. The American flag was ever present.

Crooked Church in Staten Island, still standing.

I walked away from this experience with emotions. Everyone you meet asked how you weathered the storm, and you ask them too. I actually felt guilty saying I had no electricity nor water and lived on the 18th floor without elevator service. Those are small inconveniences next to the fires of Breezy Point, the washouts of low lying Rockaways and Staten Island. We are told that this will now be a current state, vicious hurricanes and flooding. NYC now has it’s natural disaster, its earth quake/brush fire/volcano. Water. That will be our challenge.