This has been an unusual week here in New York City. After much fanfare and warnings of the imminent arrival of Frankenstorm by news media, Hurricane (or post-tropical storm) Sandy arrived on Monday night on schedule as advertised. Jaded by the last year’s almost non-event experience of Hurricane Irene in Manhattan, I, like many New Yorkers, was shocked to find so much damage caused by the storm surge on Monday night.
Among the hard hit were many ground floor galleries in Chelsea, which are only 1 or 2 blocks from the Hudson River. We went out Monday night around 9pm, after hearing that most of downtown Manhattan lost electricity. I have been hearing and reading updates from friends all night long about the storm surges in East Village, Greenpoint and Red Hook, but I was surprised to see how much water actually came in around my neighborhood in Chelsea. On Monday night, nearly a foot of water splashed darkened corner of 10th Avenue and 25th Street. I witnessed a news van unknowingly driving into this new stream and making a hasty retreat.
If it was eerie and scary to walk around in the darkened streets strewn with debris and downed trees on the night of storm’s violent arrival, the day light vividly showed the extent of the damage in the neighborhood. Following are some of the pictures that we took on last Tuesday and Wednesday. On some streets, the water level reached nearly my head, judging from the watermarks left on the wall. The other photos, taken on Wednesday (10/31/2012) afternoon, are of the damages near Battery Park and East Village.
Obviously, the damages to art works, however severe, cannot compare to the losses suffered by those who lost everything. It is nonetheless heartbreaking to see so many water-logged art works drying out on the streets as I think about the efforts and imaginations poured into those works by so many artists. Regardless how you feel about Chelsea art scene, I wish the best of luck to everyone, galleries and artists…