Trapped in the Dark: Sandy leaves many elderly stranded in NYC

Mike Mechanic at Mother Jones says,

For the past few days, my father (late 70s) and my aunt (early 80s) have been stuck without power, light, running water, 12-13 stories up in NYC apartment buildings with pitch-black stairwells. They're pretty able, fortunately. In any case, my dad just abandoned ship and left the city today. My aunt is staying put, with help from the building management. But this is really a major problem that I haven't seen covered. When people outside of the big city think of power out, it seems like a minor inconvenience. Not so when you're living on the 14th floor—or the 28th. I suggested to our NYC-based multimedia producer James West and editorial fellow Tim McDonnell that they pick a building and suss out the situation. They came back yesterday with this heartrending video.


  1. Sad & no clear end in sight. Similar scene is being played out in the outer parts of Brooklyn. Not for nothing, but pretty much all of the outer boroughs are where everyone’s parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles area. Specifics are too many; it’s just all fucked. Two hyper-local blogs I highly recommend for details are:

    Sheepshead Bites:
    GerritsenBeach (dot) net:

    Tons of buildings in similar scenarios where water & power are out, and the elderly on upper floors are basically on their own.

    In other news, Bloomberg shot down the idea of getting National Guard troops to assist in these neighborhoods.

    1. “We don’t need it,” Mayor Bloomberg said on Wednesday during a press update on the city’s ongoing Hurricane Sandy cleanup. “The NYPD is the only people we want on the street with guns.” – Bloomberg, refusing to request manpower aid 

      Bloomberg is an idiot in this, first, when assisting in a humanitarian/relief effort they go in armed with blankets, gurney/stretcher, rations, water and sheer numbers to check all addressess, all units. Few are armed.

      Second, if Bloomberg has no plan that goes beyond securing the streets then he is beholden to accept what is available. No one gives a shit about looting when their family members are stranded without resources or rescue, but Bloomberg by these statements seems to think securing the streets is priority numero only. Can the NYPD & NYFD do that AND go building to building, unit to unit in a timely manner doing welfare checks and providing aid where needed? I don’t thinks so. 

      People are already helping themselves, I hope someone cobbles together an organized welfare check system that can pick up the slack, finding the people no one is looking for, specifically the elderly.

  2. Update from my father: We just arrived in [New Jersey] where we still don’t have any power… Hope we have water and the toilets work which wasn’t the case in NYC. We had to drag water up to the 14th floor after running all over town to find some…NYC below 34th street is a disaster zone and the NJ shore has been wiped out. We went up to [his sister’s, my aunt’s] yesterday. She is doing well and since everyone likes her , they are making sure that she gets what she needs. She obviously can’t go up and down the 12 flights. She doesn’t have phone or internet service so don’t worry of you don’t hear from her. Things are tough for the elderly. Kate made dinner last night for a 97-year-old lady on our floor who was isolated and cold. We fortunately had a gas stove that can be lit with a match.

    1. Hoboken is flooded & it’s not receding. The thing with this storm was that any area that usually deals with flooding in a normal storm really, really, really got rammed like freight train in this storm. Good of you to help your neighbor. Going out to see what I can do today myself.

  3. I’m at my job on Long Island and just sat down from a co-worker who lives in The City. He is on the 3rd floor of an apartment building. He is Chinese and he said that a lot of people (all Chinese), had to flee the flood waters that suddenly filled the basement level of the apartment. All the people in his apartment building are Chinese. They are having trouble reaching relatives in Chinatown who have no power and no cell coverage now. He said not only are they waiting for the waters to be pumped and power to be restored, but new heating equipment has to be installed as well before they will have heat in their building. The people on the lower floors had to go up to the upper levels during the storm. 

    So add to all the issues of the apartment buildings all the issues of this being a city with many immigrants who do not speak English or have many resources. My co-worker has no renter’s insurance and is at the mercy of his landlord to make these fixes correctly and quickly.

  4. Yes, but at least all these stranded New Yorkers can take comfort in the fact that when they are rescued, their succor will not include rations containing trans fats or 32 ounce sodas.

    They can thank Mayor Bloomberg and his laser like focus on what really counts.

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