"Look at Irene," he said. "They made a big deal out of it, and it was nothing."
Friends on Facebook and Twitter expressed similar sentiments: "All Irene did was knock over a couple of flowers. What can Sandy do?"
"Irene knocked down a bunch of trees along the FDR Drive, but I hope it's nothing too," I commented.
We severely underestimated Sandy's extraordinary power and breadth.
Colloquially dubbed Frankenstorm, Sandy spelled disaster for much of the Northeastern U.S. and for Haiti. So much so that it knocked Election 2012 news coverage off the air the week before November 5th.
My life was not lost or threatened because of Sandy, but the past two weeks have been trying. My heart goes out to everyone who lost their homes, their lives, their loved ones during this tumultuous time. My story of Sandy is just one of millions, but I still think it needs to be told.
Our local clinic had closed in anticipation of Sandy and canceled Equis' follow-up appointment, so we had no other option but to brave the strong winds and head uptown.
"I need to know before the storm," I told the nurse at registration.
I worried that Equis would get sicker, and we wouldn't be able to leave the house.
But the doctor still had no answer for me. "Come back on Wednesday if he still has fever," she said. She had no idea Hurricane Sandy would soon flood the hospital, forcing them to evacuate their patients.
As I ran out of the hospital to gather more supplies in the case of a power outage, my partner traveled downtown after work to play video games in his brother's apartment.
I walked into CVS in hopes of buying water. The shelves were empty.
I stopped in front of a RadioShack on 1st Avenue to take a picture of the handwritten signs taped to the door--
"NO RADIO. SORRY NO D BATTERIES. NO FLASHLIGHT."
"Isn't this a funny picture?" a tall man said while facing his cell camera to the door. "They have iPhone 5s still in stock but no radios."
I stopped to take another photo of the ACE Hardware signage informing customers that they'd be closing early due to the weather.
ACE Hardware was also sold out of batteries, cadres, flashlights, lanterns, lighters, water and radios.
I thought of my partner having a great old time hanging with friends and family. I was jealous and frustrated.
I finally found some gallons of water at a small bodega on the Lower East Side. I was charged $3.50 for two. People love to price gouge during storms, you know.
Once my partner made it home after arguing about our preparedness, we began making sure the flashlights worked and gathering extra batteries.
I moved all of Equis' diapers, wipes and clothing into one place so we could easily find them in case the apartment went dark. We charged all of our devices and went to sleep.
We spent the next day wasting time, waiting for the storm to come.
The doorbell rang loudly and suddenly three times in quick succession.
"Con Ed is shutting off the power at six," my neighbor called down the hall, her eyes opened wide.
She emphatically nodded her head, "Yes, at six. You have water to flush the toilet?"
Suddenly, the storm was that much more real.
My partner and I frantically filled dozens of bottles, pots and containers with water and stuffed them into the refrigerator. We put as much of the food and milk as we could into the freezer.
"Our food is all going to go bad," I lamented. "I just bought that meat. It was on sale!"
"I know, babe, but what are you gonna do?"
After we'd run around the kitchen, stocking up on tap water and eating whatever leftovers we could salvage before the power went out, there was nothing else to do. I turned off all the lights to conserve energy and pulled Equis into bed with me.
"We might as well use the power while we have it," I laughed, and we turned on the PS3 and MacBook Pro. I hoped my neighbor was wrong, that Con Ed wouldn't shut the power off.
When our wireless was still on at six p.m., I felt slightly reassured.
But the wind blew mightily, violently shaking the branches of the trees outside our window, and I sunk deeper under my quilt.
"I'm scared," I said.
"What if a tree branch comes crashing through the window and kills us? We live in a studio. We have nowhere to hide."
"We're fine," he laughed.
I glared at him.
"Believe me," he said, "I seen worse. This is nothin'. Once, I was in Puerto Rico in a hurricane. Banana trees were flyin' through the air. I just stood there watching until my mom told me to come in. She said a tin roof could come off someone's house."
"Okay," I chuckled.
For a couple more hours, we were content, quiet as Equis made a mess with his flashcards.
Then, without warning, the TV turned black. My computer screen still dimly lit the room, but the characters on my show had stopped talking through my earphones.
At 8:48 p.m., the power had officially gone out.
My partner immediately called his mom. She lives in Zone A, right next to the East River, and had refused to evacuate when the police knocked on her door.
"I live on the 9th floor," she'd argued in Spanish. "The water can't get me up here."
"No, the water is over the hoods of the cars. The only way you can get me is if you swim."
"I told you, Mami, to leave."
"I didn't know it'd be this bad. My friend said even Avenue C is flooding."
"Yeah, Mami, I didn't think it was that serious. That they'd turn the power off," he admitted.
"I told you!" I cried. "I've been telling you!"
"The FDR Drive is a river," she said.
"I swear, Mami, I'll swim over there if I have to," he said before hanging up the call.
With nothing to do, my partner, my son and I gathered in the hallway. "This is the safest place in the building anyway. No windows," we said. Our neighbors brought out a table, and we played board games and drank until three in the morning.
We didn't know it'd be almost a week before we'd get power again. Or two weeks until we'd get heat. We didn't yet know how much damage the storm would cause domestically and internationally. It wouldn't be until later that we'd hear just some of others' terrifying Sandy stories.
We thought only of getting through that first scary night.
How did you weather the storm?