One of my early memories growing up in New Orleans was getting a canoe ride home from pre-school to my grandfather’s house, in a flooded
That is, a canoe ride down the street.
Soon thereafter in 1979, was the famous “May 3rd Flood,” during which I received a
harmless snake bite.
Floods and eventually hurricanes seemed to be part of life.
Not New York City.
So it’s through that lens which I view what’s happened here from Hurricane Sandy- or Superstorm Sandy, whatever moniker you care to bestow.
This nasty weather that wrecked the Rockaways, Long Island, all the barrier islands, New Jersey, etc.
experience, both as a child, and as an adult, watching
community suffer, deeply
informs my view of everything going on now.
I’ll share a few ideas and thoughts that you might want to takeaway, perhaps some lessons.
The rebuilding in destroyed communities is going to take much, much longer than anyone anticipates.
I am not a pessimist, but I simply have seen the situation seven years down the road in New Orleans, and these communities will still be a mess in 2019.
Many people will move away.
There will be some real estate prospecting.
Heck, there’s a huge development site on the block in Far Rockaway.
Not so great.
2) New Yorkers are famously impatient.
This is going to test New Yorkers like we’ve never been tested.
3) People in downtown Manhattan will have a short-term memory about this.
The president of my firm, Hall Willkie, was already interviewed about the impact of the flooding on downtown Manhattan.
Just like post-9/11, six months from now, or even sooner, residential will be as strong or stronger than it is.
4) The Upper West Side and Upper East Side are at a significantly higher elevation than downtown.
As in WAY above sea level.
Morningside Heights and Grant’s Tomb, specifically, are the highest point on the island of Manhattan.
I know that many are feeling some survivor’s guilt uptown for not sharing the suffering of those below 39th street.
That said, life goes on very much apace.
5) People will do anything to avoid paying rent.
6) There was looting and awful behavior that has not yet come to light.
Once there is better access, information will start coming out, especially once people start filing insurance reports.
7) Self-contained sports are okay, but road races are not.
This isn’t exactly a RE Takeaay, but I’m an avid runner, and I needed to share.
Even I was surprised when the marathon wasn’t cancelled much earlier.
Sure, the 2001 Subway Series carried on after 9/11, but in a stadium that didn’t require massive logistical support like that of the NYC marathon.
Sure, basketball games happened right after the storm, but inside a stadium.
The coordination of a 26-mile race was simply too much- and took too much away from the efforts to help those most affected by the storm.
I’m happy that our leaders finally got that figured out.
While it was a lovely sight to see people making lemonade out of lemons in Central Park- and the loss of revenue in the city from Marathon travelers will turn out to be far less than any doomsday predictions- the marathon will happen again, but
a bitter taste was in everyone’s mouths.
All that said, I think that the politics that seem to have divided Americans during the election are way too prominent in this discussion.
Even this morning’s Post continues the rant.
Running is one of the least expensive sports there is, or should be.
Throw on your shoes and run outside.
It’s not a wealthy person’s sport, or certainly doesn’t have to be.
New Yorkers have a lot of soul searching to do, and how we decide to celebrate ourselves, in the context of all the terrible destruction that’s happened, will be interesting.
8) Suburban people are sick of losing power.
This baby-boomer generation in Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester will likely continue their march into the city- and these storms only push them out sooner.
To Florida, Manhattan, and South.
9) This summer vacation season is going to be well, very different.
The awful loss of New Jersey coastline, the barrier islands such as Fire Island, and closer just to Coney Island – how people spend their summers will change.
Unaffected areas and homes will see a premium on their properties.
10) The biggest takeaway- This is a moral test for those New Yorkers who were lucky enough not to be affected.
We need to find effective ways to give back, to help make a real difference.
We need to grow from the experience, and make New York City BETTER.
Volunteer, give smartly, and help.