Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

With Hurricane Irene barreling toward New York City, I've decided to stay behind in my Manhattan Financial District apartment — located smack-dab in the middle of "Evacuation Zone A." Keep refreshing this page as I live-blog the storm from my perch above lower Manhattan providing either the first pictures of Hurricane Irene New York City damage — or a whole lot of nothing. (LAST UPDATED - 8:17 PM EST)

Either way, I'll be here — and live-blogging as long as the power's still on or the battery in my laptop/iPad/MiFi/iPhone has a drop of charge left.

UPDATE 34 (08/28/2011 - 8:17 PM EST) — MATT: New York may have dodged the worst of it, but the worst of it seems to have landed in the Catskills and parts of Vermont. Bridges destroyed and an entire town have been completely wiped out.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

UPDATE 33 (08/28/2011 - 2:16 PM EST): That river they're boating on in the photo on the left? It's not a river. It's Route 18 in New Brunswick, NJ.

UPDATE 32 (08/28/2011 - 12:51 PM EST): Check out these images of the horrific devastation from our sister site, Gawker.

UPDATE 31 (08/28/2011 - 9:50 AM EST): It's over. It's barely spittin' outside right now. But there's been some flooding down in the South Street Seaport. Also, you definitely shouldn't drive through standing water. Unless you absolutely have to. This guy? He didn't have to.

I'm going to have some breakfast and take a nap.

UPDATE 30 (08/28/2011 - 9:00 AM EST) — MATT: The National Hurricane Center just downgraded Irene to a Tropical Storm with winds of 65 MPH. It just made landfall over Coney Island.

UPDATE 29 (08/28/2011 - 7:24 AM EST): Thanks to Jim Roberts over at The New York Times for sending along their great gallery of reader images up. Some of the shots are absolutely beautiful. A few aren't.

OK, so take a glance through those — I'm heading downstairs and outside. I'd ask you to wish me luck but it doesn't look like I'll necessarily need it. Things aren't looking as bad — yet — as this was hyped up to be. I mean, come on, we're only three feet above MLLW.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

UPDATE 28 (08/28/2011 - 7:08 AM EST): MLLW is at 8.20 ft. The normal MLLW is 4.77.

UPDATE 27 (08/28/2011 - 6:47 AM EST): My decision to head downstairs will be entirely determined by this National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chart here showing tide height in Battery Park. High tide should come at just before 8:00 AM EST. Already the water is well above where it normally is — but still not horrifically high.

It looks like it's about eight feet higher than Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW). The normal high tide is only four feet higher than MLLW. That means we're only talking about a difference of four feet. I'll be concerned if I refresh in 30 minutes and Battery Park is showing well over 14 feet higher than MLLW — ten feet higher than normal high tide — because that's inundation height.

UPDATE 26 (08/28/2011 - 6:09 AM EST): Nice nap. Not much has happened here in lower Manhattan. Planning on peeking outside shortly — as soon as the light comes out. I still have power. We're hearing areas of Jersey will be out of power for days.

UPDATE 25 (08/28/2011 - 1:07 AM EST): So, you know how people are saying this Hurricane Irene thing isn't a big deal? Check out this video of the rain coming down I just took over at Pearl and John St. in New York's Financial District. Now imagine that much rain for the next, you know, eight hours. Whoa.

OK, I'm going to take a nap for a few hours. I'll be back up around 4 AM — unless I lose power. See ya real soon! Why? Because we like you. M-O-U-S...E.

UPDATE 24 (08/28/2011 - 12:59 AM EST): I just found El Bloombito — a parody of Bloomberg's press conferences where he attempts, horribly, to read Spanish.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

UPDATE 23 (08/27/2011 - 11:29 PM EST): Just heard New Jersey had its first casualty — a surfer. Note to self — stay away from large quantities of seawater. Got it.

In other news, we're going to head downstairs and make another short trip down to see if we can get to the South Street Seaport. This is what it looked like two hours ago when I made my last venture out-of-doors.

UPDATE 22 (08/27/2011 - 10:50 PM EST): Sometimes-intern-like person, Leeeeena the Jalopchick, has stopped by the Jalopnik Hurricane Irene not-so-mobile headquarters here in Manhattan. Everyone say hi.

Also, check out that amazing shot of New York's Times Square looking dead as a tomb. Also, also, please don't flame me if there are casualties — you know I didn't mean it like that. K? Thx.

UPDATE 21 (08/27/2011 - 10:32 PM EST): I have the very first video of Hurricane Irene damage in New York City, and it's... totally un-American? OK, actually, it's totally sad and lame.

UPDATE 20 (08/27/2011 - 10:28 PM EST): Mayor Bloomberg is giving a press conference where he's telling people to "stay inside," and announced two kayakers floundered off the Staten Island shore and had to be rescued by harbor personnel. They were immediately ticketed. Yeah, that was to be expected. Frankly, I knew it as soon as he started with "Off the shore of Staten Island, two kayakers..."

UPDATE 19 (08/27/2011 - 8:01 PM EST): I'm heading back out again to check out the South Street Seaport. Apparently, police cars are warning people away from Battery Park, so that's not going to work.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

A number of people have asked me what it takes to cover Hurricane Irene. Although I explained most of what I had in the first update on this live-blog, here's a photo showing most of my survival gear — although food is in a separate bag, but the Beefaroni is representative of it.

UPDATE 18 (08/27/2011 - 7:35 PM EST): Just heard thunder. Told by someone in Brooklyn they're seeing lightning strikes there. Be careful wandering about in the rain, folks.

UPDATE 17 (08/27/2011 - 7:15 PM EST): There's only 45 minutes to buy alcohol in Hoboken, NJ. Hurry up if you want to get smashed in Jersey!

UPDATE 16 (08/27/2011 - 7:04 PM EST): I'm having dinner right now before I head back outside, but first, I wanted to point you to Tamara Warren's piece over at Forbes on cars and hurricanes.

Also, just got the following instant message from Joel Johnson, the editor-in-chief of our small artisanal sister site obsessed with the cult of video games:

Joel Johnson:
SCOTCH SUPPLIES == SOLID
GOAT CHEESE RATIONS == SECURED

And then he signed off. The man's got his priorities straight, don't he?

UPDATE 15 (08/27/2011 - 6:13 PM EST): Lauri Apple over at our sister site obsessed with power — no, sadly, not the electric kind — has a story up about the "Rikers Island situation." Best line:

"New York City's Department of Corrections' failure to develop an Irene-related evacuation plan for all the prisoners trapped inside Rikers Island has pissed off people who still remember what happened to prisoners during Katrina, and also those people who oppose drowning. There are still many such people in America (they're all on Twitter)."

UPDATE 14 (08/27/2011 - 5:55 PM EST): According to NBC News, the New York Port Authority says it will close its five airports through Sunday; No word yet on Monday.

UPDATE 13 (08/27/2011 - 5:51 PM EST): I'm back from checking out Battery Park here in lower Manhattan. There's maybe a half a dozen joggers out on the streets — and another dozen or so weather reporters doing live shots remarking about how difficult it is to see the Statue of Liberty from the shore. You know, on account of the rain, and the clouds, and the fog, and the Hurricane Irene.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

Strangely, I was able to see it and get a photo with my little Canon S95 point-and-shoot. I don't know what fancy-schmancy HD video cameras the assembled weather-reporting press corps is using to shoot with — but I could see the Statue of Liberty just fine. And my camera only costs $395 and I bought it at Best Buy.

UPDATE 12 (08/27/2011 - 4:21 PM EST) — Matt: Ray Wert is out again to grab some photos, I've posted a crazy shot of an empty Grand Central Station. Would be perfect for a giant game of laser tag.

UPDATE 11 (08/27/2011 - 3:14 PM EST): Heading back out to take some photos of the South Street Seaport. There's a bunch of old-timey ships docked there. I'm sort of wondering what's going to happen to them. I'll be back soon. If my mom calls, tell her not to worry.

UPDATE 10 (08/27/2011 - 2:57 PM EST): I too am wondering why this guy's whipping his penis out on The Weather Channel. The video at Gizmodo's NSFW, FWIW.

UPDATE 9 (08/27/2011 - 2:52 PM EST): Another band of rain is coming in. Again, huge rain drops. Falling hard. And just as quickly, it's over. I hear the bands of rain start to grow tighter and tighter together, until they become continuous. That is not something I'm looking forward to.

UPDATE 8 (08/27/2011 - 2:29 PM EST): This New Yorker's car covered in packing tape and plastic sheeting is the funniest thing I've seen today.

UPDATE 7 (08/27/2011 - 2:06 PM EST): With all my gear spread out around me, I'm now wondering how others here in New York City are preparing to weather the storm. Drop your pics of your gear in the comments below.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

UPDATE 6 (08/27/2011 - 1:48 PM EST): Back in my apartment. Opened up the package I received earlier. It was from my friends at Home Depot. After hearing about problems I was having procuring supplies for covering Hurricane Irene on twitter, the team in Atlanta overnighted me a barrel of supplies including some great AA-powered LED waterproof flashlights, two torches with handles, a rain poncho, a hard hat, coveralls and some other useful supplies for trying to cover Hurricane Irene.

And I can use the bucket to pour water to flush the toilet. Yes, it's the perfect example of how a web journalist with a lot of followers can toot his own horn by talking up how social media can reward people. Yay!

I kid, it's totally cool that they sent what I'm now calling my "Hurricane Prep Bucket." I'm truly thankful for their help.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

UPDATE 5 (08/27/2011 - 1:32 PM EST): New York City's buses and subways officially shut down an hour and a half ago. It's really eerie seeing Police "Caution" tape up at every subway stop.

Although, to be fair, the Fulton Street subway stop, due to the MTA's building of a brand-new transit center, is regularly shut down.

Mike Grynbaum, transportation reporter at The New York Times has a great piece up right now on what it takes to shut down the nation's largest mass transit system.

Speaking of infrastructure, despite earlier statements that ConEd would be preemptively shutting down power in parts of Manhattan, they're now claiming that won't be the case. Good to know. It means I'll have power for at least as long as it's able to stay running. Hopefully through the storm, but we'll see.

Hurricane Irene: New York City Live-Blog

UPDATE 4 (08/27/2011 - 1:17 PM EST): Ran across the street to the Duane Reade to pick up a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke. Waiting in line I found a woman buying a slew of batteries. When I asked her where her flashlights were for those batteries, her response back to me was "I just wanted to have batteries. Just in case." Huh. Yup, glad to see New Yorkers aren't hoarding at all.

UPDATE 4 (08/27/2011 - 1:10 PM EST): The building management just told me that they're turning off hot water at 2:00 PM. They're unsure when power's going to go down. Since I live on the 17th floor and won't have access to elevators, this ought to be fun. I'd contemplate packing up all of my gear and heading down to the lobby to wait out the storm tomorrow, but I'm concerned that both of the building's stairwells empty out of the building rather than into the lobby. That means if I need to move to higher ground and I'm in the lobby — I have no way of doing it. This seems like bad architectural planning in my mind.

UPDATE 3 (08/27/2011 - 1:03 PM EST): One of the first big rain bands just whipped through lower Manhattan. The drops are actually rather huge. But then, just as soon as it starts, it stops.

UPDATE 2 (08/27/2011 - 11:43 AM EST): With just 16 minutes until New York City shuts down the subways and buses, I'm going to head outside and get a few photos of preparation for the storm. Also, I have a mysterious package that just arrived downstairs. It may very well be from the good folks at Home Depot — who offered to help provide me some supplies to cover Hurricane Irene from here in the Financial District.

UPDATE 1 (08/27/2011 - 11:01 AM EST): It's cloudy. A few sprinkles. New York City is shutting down mass transit in just over an hour. I'm finishing up my Hurricane Irene prep here in my apartment. Here's some of what I've put together:

• Potable Water: Emergency management protocol suggests you have one gallon of water per day per person. There's just me and I expect to be without power/without access for — at most — 24 hours. Thus, I've hoarded ten gallons of potable water and 20 small bottles (six of them are frozen in the freezer to act as ice). I hope it's enough.

•Non-Potable Water: I'm planning on filling up the bathtub later this afternoon before the power to the building is shut off.

• Food: 10 power bars, five cans of Beefaroni pasta, a few bags of potato chips, a dozen bananas, a bunch of grapes, four apples, four cans of an Ensure-like protein drink, a box of Starbucks Via instant coffee, a jar of pickles, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, two small jars of grape jelly and a couple steaks in the fridge (I'm planning on cooking them around 4 PM tonight as a last meal ahead of the power going out).

• Flashlights: Two LED lanterns, two mini LED maglights, and about 40 batteries.

• Radio: My trusty Radio Shack 200 channel PRO-404 scanner.

• Communications: An AT&T iPhone 3G (fully charged with a mophie battery pack and an Energizer XPal battery pack), a Verizon 3G iPad 2 (fully charged), a last-gen MacBook Pro (fully charged), a current-gen 13" MacBook Pro (fully charged), and a Sprint mobile HotSpot. Wish I had a UPS, but I'll just have to conserve power, I guess — no playing video games or reading comic books on the iPad!

• Clothes: Waterproof jacket (although I wish I had a Paddington Bear-like yellow jacket with a hood — anyone nearby have one in an XL?), waders, LL Bean Maine Hunting Boots, Detroit Tigers baseball cap (plus some clean underwear, socks, sneakers, t-shirts and pants in a waterproof XL Ziplock bag inside of my ruggedized gym bag.

• Reading material: Kindle, magazines, books, newspapers.

• Cameras: A Canon S95 and a Contour+ 1500, plus my iPhone and iPad cameras.

Photo Credit: BerkowitzRtrs/Reuters


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