As Hurricane Sandy hurtled toward land, New Yorkers’ preparations took a variety of forms. Some stocked up on essentials (lettuce, probiotics and Homeland); others simply worked through the worst of it, at least as long as the power stayed on. Whether barely scathed or hip-deep in water, New Yorkers of all stripes and circumstances tapped their intrepid spirits—and well-stocked liquor cabinets—to get through the Storm of the Century. Here’s how they did it:
Barbara Guggenheim, art consultant: I’m usually in Los Angeles, but I’m here in our apartment on Central Park South for a few weeks. Everyone in the building got the memo to close all our shades, but of course we have no shades. They also said they brought in extra staff. I would have thought they would let the staff go home! I made sure I had enough liquor and enough pasta. What can you do? You might as well just eat all the candy you want. It’s the one time in life you can get away with it. I was amazed by who was closed and who was open. Starbucks was closed! Meanwhile, my hairdresser was open, which was strange.
Harry Blodget, editor: Stocked up on milk, Shredded Wheat and bananas, which I could live on for a month. Worked as usual, from home, along with the rest of the Business Insider team.
Bosco Sodi, artist: When I heard about the hurricane, I started taking precautions—buying sandbags, plastic, foam, wood. My main concern was the paintings lying in the floor waiting to dry, so all during Saturday and Sunday we had to cover all of them with plastic and move them as high as possible. After the hurricane, we tried to get back to the studio to see if we could do something else, but it was impossible to get through. The water had just covered Red Hook, all the way to Fairway. I stepped out of the car and decided to go in—water all the way up to my hips, cold as hell—but there was nothing else to do. I couldn’t open my studio door, because if I opened it, more water would just get in.
Gary Shteyngart, author: I prepared by going to Toronto.
Peggy Siegal, publicist: I went to Citarella’s on Third Avenue and 75th and stocked up on water and lettuce. Then I went to the Jets game and sat in Woody Johnson’s box with Woody Allen, after setting up a photo of the two Woodys. Sunday morning, I realized that if I lost power, the lettuce would wilt and I would starve to death. So I went back to D’Agostino’s on Lexington and 75th and found socialites Muffie Potter Aston and Sara Ayres, impeccably dressed and just as dazed and confused as me. Again, out of habit, I went for the perishable greens, until the two blond WASPs found the last two cans of tuna and the last dozen small memorial yahrzeit candles.
Bill Powers, art dealer: We had no phone service in the West Village. I had to use a pay phone. A pay phone! The guy in front of me, younger than me, was like, “How do I use this?”
Mark Bittman, food columnist: I worked, edited photos, watched WCBS (something I never do!), made chapatis and dal.
Michael Grimm, Staten Island congressman: My staff set up a command post. Each staff member had a specific shelter they checked in with. We’ve been running pretty much like a military operation. Most of the staff at the shelters are volunteers, and they were incredible. Just the little things: at the Petrides School, they were about to cook pasta for everyone and the power went out. So myself and Assemblyman Michael Cusick called one of the diners I know, and they cooked up pasta for everybody. The power ended up coming back on later on, but at least everyone got fed.
Deborah Kass, painter: I wondered why, after the best weekend of my life I had to deal immediately with the storm of the century, shit from the Gowanus floating into my backyard and trees falling on my house!! Damn! … I was too high from the show to worry about the hurricane till about 4 in the morning when I shot out of bed and started taping plastic to the doors and fussing with the basement.
John Borthwick, tech CEO: My family and I bailed a foot of water out of my kitchen.
Jason Binn, publisher: We had to move out of our River Lofts in Tribeca, since we were in Zone A. We were thinking about going to the Hamptons, but we got in the cars and found out the storm was heading there. So we made a decision to turn back and stay with my dad on the Upper East Side. We’re having a staycation.
R. Couri Hay, publicist: I told my employees to get on their galoshes and walk up to my space on the Upper West Side. Well, two out of the 20 made it. I tied down my garden chairs and furniture, and my totem pole, which I did by unraveling a rope placement and securing it. As for my other home, I told the caretakers to go to Southampton and play.
Ben Smith, editor: We had to rebuild the whole BuzzFeed site. When the site went down, people were filing stories and psting them to Tumblr and tweeting them, which was pretty natural. The shift to social distribution on Tumblr was pretty easy. Organizing a metro desk was harder. My kids are pretty much going insane, although they were excited about not having school.
Jean Shafiroff, philanthropist: I was supposed to go to two galas: Museum Studio Harlem and We Are Family Foundation. The first one was canceled, the second was postponed. I told the ones who postponed that people will understand, they just need to have a cocktail party after this blows over. Since I was a guest for Studio Museum of Harlem, I sent a donation anyway. My advice is, if you’re a guest, give a donation, even if it’s canceled. They need it more than ever.
Euan Rellie, banker: I flew home from Saigon via Hong Kong then Detroit, then I’m carpooling 10 hours to New York City. I’m sorry to have missed the action. Sandy’s kind of a bitch, and I intend to remonstrate with her. My wife and kids have sensibly checked into Soho House New York, which is replete with candles, flashlights and room service menus. Hey, Sandy: you can suck it.
Richard Kirshenbaum, advertising exec: About 3 in the afternoon on Sunday, I turned to my wife and said, ‘Everyone’s going to order Chinese at 7, and it’s going to be closed.’ So we pre-ordered Chinese, Japanese and pizza from Serafina. Just when everyone was starting to get hungry, the restaurants were closing down. I figure, if I have Chinese food and I can watch Homeland, I’m good.
Alison Brod, publicist: I was home on upper Fifth with my kids, sourcing out photos from our Kim Kardashian Halloween party at Avenue for Midori and hoping that my glass Hamptons beach house survived. My nanny was bored and loves to cook and so made us a multi-course New Orleans-themed lunch, an extensive Italian dinner and a bakery’s worth of desserts.
Kathy Grayson, art dealer: I just went to meet my neighbor Kembra Pfahler on Avenue C, and she gave me a bunch of penis candles and we looked at the flooding on Avenue D and then went home to read books by our penis candles.
Mallory Blair, publicist: The most important thing I did was activating all of my Sims to “cook large meal,” so they had provisions for the hurricane in case the power went out and my battery died.
Michele Gerber Klein, writer and arts patron: I worked on my book on Charles James. I watched a special on the Hunan snub-nosed monkey. Oh, and my holistic vet came over.
Joe Sheftel, art dealer and gallery owner: All seemed okay with the gallery, and the basement was dry. We had moved most of the art from the basement to be safe. No electricity or cell phones there. As for me, I cooked all day and had a dinner party in Williamsburg. Nothing too eventful, thankfully. It seems we are entering a new environmental phase. I am glad we are okay as a community.
Christopher Mason, TV host and writer: When the power failed, I was in the midst of writing a satirical song—a musical roast of an eminent financier—that has to be performed this Friday. Panic!!! My client had been sending me volleys of hilarious information about the birthday boy. Foibles galore. But the flow of hilarity halted abruptly when the electricity went kaput. Just before my iPhone reception fizzled, I managed to e-mail my parents in England to assure them I was okay. Next morning, I fled uptown to wifi and an iPhone charger at my client’s apartment. The song has to be written, but I’m still captivated by the scenes—on Facebook and TV—of the destruction Sandy hath wrought.
Andras Szanto, cultural consultant and writer: I looked out at the Brooklyn Museum, right outside my windows … thinking how wise its founders were to site the museum on the highest point in their city. Meanwhile, Chelsea sits in Flood Zone A. It’s hard not to read a metaphor in that about institutional mindsets and expectations.
Darin Strauss, author: I tried to clean the tub so I could fill it with water, but I didn’t do a good enough job, so my wife had to. Stocked up on basics but went to health food store to get probiotics for my twin sons, which sounds crunchy. I got the wrong kind, though, and had to go back out in the storm.
Aviva Drescher, TV personality: We cooked beef stew and chicken soup, stocked up on batteries, fruit, peanut butter and jelly. We played board games, read a lot of books and watched family movies. Our family grew and grew, not because my husband and I were in bed a lot [wink], but because we took in stranded friends without power. We also donated to the American Red Cross. One of our employees had an apartment on the water in Coney Island. On the first floor. Everything was ruined and floating. We are helping her replace what she lost.
Robin Cofer, philanthropist and social fixture: We’re up on the 90th floor, and the wind was really fierce. The chandeliers were pretty wild. We had to steady them with some kind of rod. The building is designed to move, and we’re on the 90th floor, it felt like a boat.
Kelly Cutrone, publicist: I’m in Cold Spring. I bought sandbags and my friend the jewelry designer Gillian Chvat and I loaded them—two women out loading 60-pound sandbags. You can only fit three in a wheelbarrow. It really made me appreciate men. I’m reconsidering my commitment to feminism and thinking about marrying Jase Robertson, the pioneer redneck from Duck Dynasty. All of a sudden, I know more about core exercise than most people even dream of. I bought a pair of bitching boots at Home Depot. $7—a really good bargain. They’re like a Frankenstein version of a Hunter boot. And I got a Columbia black poncho with a hood, three Coleman furnaces, bunch of water coolers and 20 cases of water. I let my daughter Eva have commercial Pop-Tarts—but only if she would agree to a taste test of the organic kind. I also saged my whole property and prayed to The Mother.