Surviving Sandy’s aftershock

NaANAIMO: Former Machleary Street resident and B.C. freelance journalist recover from Hurricane Sandy.

As another storm packing heavy winds barrels toward New York City, residents rush to recuperate from Hurricane Sandy.

Among them are Michelle Noble, formerly of Nanaimo, who is co-owner of the Nelson Blue bar in Lower Manhattan.

Water flooded more than two metres deep on Front Street, Noble said, filling the Nelson Blue and the neighbourhood with slimy, foul smelling, sewage contaminated, yellow-green water.

She had gathered with others at a friend’s apartment on Wall Street, eight blocks away, to wait out the storm.

They climbed the 14 floors to the apartment in the darkened stairwell and went out onto the apartment’s small balcony.

“I love scary storms,” Noble said. “I went outside and the wind was insane. There was river in front of us. It happened so fast. It was unbelievable.”

The cost of the damage to the business has yet to be tallied as staff and friends clear out the debris and tear out the drywall in an attempt to save the structure.

Noble is currently in Florida on her honeymoon, a blessing in disguise, she said, but she can’t help feeling guilty about taking the time away while others are cleaning up.

“It’s bittersweet, but finally we’re warm after a week,” Noble said.

Noble, who once lived on Machleary Street, moved from Nanaimo to the Bahamas in 2000. She has lived in New York City since 2002.

The bar had been sandbagged and since Hurricane Irene in 2011 failed to pack much of a punch, there was hope warnings about Sandy were overblown.

“We were as prepared as we could have been, but it was a powerful storm, unfortunately, and our whole entire block got wiped out,” Noble said.

Water and gas services have yet to be restored to the neighbourhood, but some buildings have electricity. Accurate damage assessments on the buildings in the neighbourhood need to be done.

“They don’t even know if we’ll be able to rebuild there yet,” Noble said. “It depends on the damage. It’s residential above us. They’re telling people it’s not safe to live there. There’s no fire retardants. There’s nothing. Everything’s gone. Everything.”

She said it was fortunate nobody they knew was killed or injured, but while many people have lost homes, businesses and jobs, there’s a strong sense of community and neighbours have banded together to help each other out.

“It was amazing, the help we got,” she said. “That was the coolest part about the whole thing. Everything’s gone, but you have the people. The love and support was incredible.”

Noble and her husband are haven’t been given word they can move back into their home on Wall Street either. They were scheduled to return to New York Wednesday, but have decided to wait until the storm currently heading toward the city has passed. When they return, they’ll likely be homeless, at least temporarily, as well.

“We’re staying on a couch in Queens at my business partner’s house with  two cats.”

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