Monday, November 05, 2012


A first person account of Super-storm Sandy 

Neesha Parikh

Neesha Stays at 
with her brother 
Maulik and studies 
Certified Public 
Accountacy,  She's
much more than 
a niece. Good friend 
& someone who 
loves to read & write

For me the hurricane began on Saturday.

Till then I was blissfully unaware of something this catastrophic coming my way. Having my exam on Monday I was too self-absorbed in my world to regard anything that was happening outside. Saturday morning I had a talk with friend who lives in New York. She was pretty sure my exam will be cancelled due to 'hurricane' hitting on Monday night. 

Call it my stupidity. I dismissed it by saying such hurricanes come in Florida and NOT on East coast.

Besides that morning itself (Saturday) I got my confirmation of exam on Monday. At 3 in afternoon I get a mail saying - oh! The exams have been cancelled as the center is closed for safety of students and staff. Silently cursing my friend I went on to work, to find another exam date. It a RULE in USA - nothing and no one works on week end. Given the situation, even more so.

After two long hours exhausted of calling every darn number I could find on internet to mailing as many places I could, I had only one result - NOTHING. Frustrated beyond level as I had worked a month off for this exam day and night just to get it cancelled, I decided I need to know more about the culprit of it all. 
This being the second hurricane I was about to endure on east coast (I was in jersey which Irene hit last august) I knew one thing - people panic here easily and govt hypes it. Maybe to make sure people are prepared and are in safe places. This was Saturday. I was still not sure as to how serious it was. Because all hyped Irene was nothing but a breeze when it reached NY last year. This time I knew it had to be serious enough of NY is shutting down subways - subways are life line of NY. Daily millions of people take them to get in and out. SEPTA were shutting down at mid night as well. (I live near Philadelphia and that’s our public transport)

The seriousness crept in Sunday morning and for that I blame my mom.  I was sleeping peacefully till 'late morning when she called and said, ‘remember that boardwalk we went to when we visited Atlantic City.’  I was like - Yh.. ‘Well that’s gone now.’ (They visited this Aug- Sept so memories all fresh) I jerked out of my bed and caught hold of my laptop. Still in bed and in covers, I saw the devastation that was coming. All the coastal areas of NY-NJ were flooded already with the storm good 30 hrs away. Even though Sandy was going to hit Atlantic City - what it was doing was forming one BIG arc. One side throwing rains and the other, winds. Hence the NY-NJ was receiving floods and rain while North Carolina had a different story. Thanks to the winds, Appalachian mountain and low temperatures in Oct end, it was snowing. The hurricane had turned into a snow storm. New York wasn’t the only place affected. 8 states in total were victims of Sandy.

Digesting all this, I went to pictures. I landed up seeing one of battery park (place where to get ferry for statue of liberty and Governor`s island) which I had visited a week ago. Steps submerged in water I saw news lady saying this tide and ebb effect (next day Sharad Punam it was) and it will just get worst. Having enough of it, I got off the bed and did what you do to prepare for hurricanes. Called up my brother (who was out) to get bottled water and food to last for days to come. I made my way to kitchen to make haandvo which would last two days without fridge (mom`s idea of course. I wouldn’t have had a clue what to make). After putting haandvo in oven, we went ahead to put water in zip lock bags and place them in the freezer. Yes, we had loads of frozen food. More than half of America lives on frozen food, that way the water turned into ice will maintain the temps even with no power. And, of course grocery.  Everything from water to candles to flash lights. (US panics and panics easily) 

After a leisurely shower (I didn’t know for long we won’t have power. no power = no hot water. In India lights are out – fine. We are used to it. In US electric gas, hot water, internet, phones and laptops – that’s your life. With no power, there is no life) I went on to message everyone I knew on East coast. BBM , Whats app and facebook coming to my aid. Most replied they are in safe places (the truth was no one knew what the impact’s going to be)

In process the frustration of exams plus the morning wake up, wait and anticipation got to me and I decided I will do a dead speech as I named it *if i don’t survive* message . It started out with messages being of couple of lines to just `love you` in end. I sent it out to random friends and people whom I could think of at that time. The replies amazed me. From ‘what`s up’ to su thayu to ‘r u drunk’? Darn, I never knew saying ‘love you’ back is so hard! The best ones were from my ex-roommates (I formerly resided in jersey city-NJ). One said, ‘Relax! do meditation and yoga.’ The other said ‘Get off the news NOW and go watch movies’ (they know me while enough). I stopped when one of my cousin asked ‘why so randomly?’ and all I wanted to reply was, ‘I will get thru the BBM and punch you if you don’t say it back. Needless to say, I got a ‘love you’ there. 

Sunday night I slept with still a day to go. I think a lot of people were like me who really lost nerve due to wait of it. I even heard someone say, it might be as bad as they make it out to be or all this will be a waste. Waste it was not! Monday morning things were just getting bad. People where evacuating, floods and water levels increasing. I was in Philadelphia. It was in path of sandy. One by one everything from tunnels to roads was shutting down almost everywhere. Power was going out and NC was already in inches of snow. Atlantic city was worst hit. I was off news to read a book and calm myself.

In evening, we went to our neighbors, sat, talked with the news in background. The last news I got was sandy was stripped from its title as hurricane to be called a post tropical storm which no one bought as we all knew what it was capable of. We lost power around 9.30 and I knew it just a start. I stood by the glass door to witness drizzling rain and winds at such high speeds that send shivers down my spine. Once or twice I saw sky lighted with green which should be lighting or my hallucination as green sky is freaky to watch even if for a minute. Finally we decided to call it a night around 11.30. Once while going up to our own apt. I did go out to see what I was like. It was cold, winds that I could fly away and dark. I went in as quickly as I came out. Mind you - Philly was not bang in the path but very close by with no water bodies around. So it was wind`s play all the way. While my brother decided to sleep I couldn’t with howling winds outside. With candles (and playing noorii- nooriii) i made my bed and lied down (it was supposed to pass at 2 in night).

Those were the worst hours to pass by. Leaves were flying. (One of my friends said – ‘mohobatien’ ma pata udta te ne eva..just scary) trees falling   a dreaded thought crossed my mind wishing I still have roof on my head in morning. I live in second floor with no levels above and houses here are made of wood. Finally I feel asleep around 5 in morning and it was Tuesday morning.

I didn’t have power for more than 34 hours and in a way I am thankful for that or else the news would have freaked me. I was lucky enough to have only broken trees and damaged cars around as images of coastal areas on NJ-NY and other places scared me when I looked up after power returned. (manhattan was dark that night- a rare sight) It’s been two days and I still haven’t gotten the exam rescheduled nor do my friends in Jersey city had power nor will they till 5th Nov . But what matters is the death toll has risen to 68 (again a friend said, aa USA che etle , india hot toh lakho upar pochi gaya hot and I side that) and I pray for the family who lost their dears ones, houses and modes of living . But one thing I give to Usa govt is they care. They care for each and every citizen.

And if you ask me - yes I can very much see the world ending on 21st Dec because no one is powerful as mother nature. Even when you know a disaster is hitting, all you can do is wait and that is unrequited power. So I would recommend to stay with near and dear ones that day and do what I did. Say ‘love you’ and unlike me, don’t rely on replies.


  1. this chilling first-person-account on Sandy hurricane rings so authentic that it reminds me of gems of journalism written by writers of repute - the stories of both man-made and natural calamities (including Titanic's) i have read in the Reader's Digest. Neesha, i haven't read 'The Diary of Anne Frank' but this piece of yours exhorts me to read it some day, just to feel what is the fear of the worst! we all love you and wish you best of life ahead.

    1. I am happy to know that it makes you want to read more.Thank you for the kind words , love & wishes.

  2. Nice one:)
    I Wish to Read Sidhdharth
    Best Luck.

    1. thank you .. Siddharth is a great read .. do follow up on that ..