Englishman in New York: the Hurricane formerly known as Irene

So Irene has come and gone. By the time she reached New York City, CNN were telling us that she’d been downgraded to a tropical storm. All the same the rain was banging at the window and the horns on the fire trucks could be heard all night. Screaming in the street at 2am put me on edge and it made for a fitful nights sleep.

For 24 hours we were confined to the hotel without knowing for how long, whether the power would stay on, whether the water would stay on. We had food, bottled water, some beers and tap water in ice buckets (just in case we were talking days). We were issued with glowsticks and hand fans. If the power didn’t go off we could always have a rave was the thought.


The hotel staff at the Hudson were and continue to be great. Dressed in black I Love NY t-shirts they went about delivering service as if there was just a smattering of rain outside. Most guests took it in their stride while others were visibly distressed. One in tears as her flight had been cancelled was comforted by a receptionist with reassurance. It’s moments like this when I’m glad we didn’t go down the bargain route. The hotel bars for the most part were open, a cinema room and drawing station were set up and messages left on in room answer-phones from the exuberant General Manager. It took on a strange cruise ship vibe as you walk the common areas. I’m yet to find the shuffleboard.

After a few drinks in the bar, a Magic Hat #9 by candlelight, it was back to the room for a Barney Greengrass dinner of bialy, pickled herring, potato salad and pickles. A little bit of channel hopping before that fitful nights sleep. Strip away the news coverage and twitter and I think sleep would have been easier.


We’ve not ventured out yet but the streets seem to be returning to normal.


Englishman in New York: the Hurricane formerly known as Irene

Englishman in New York: Waiting for Irene

With a week in New York there’s always going to be new experiences, but preparing for a hurricane isn’t one you’d expect. After the earthquake which we didn’t feel, the talk of Irene took a while to take hold of our attention. Once the Mayor, the Governors of New York and New Jersey and finally the President had made televised addresses our attention was gripped.

New Yorkers seemed to go about their business in much the same way as Londoners. There’s a calm cynicism as mist people heed the warnings. Supermarkets were open throughout the night to meet demand but there wasn’t the crazy panic buying you’d maybe expect. Water and potato chips seemed to be the waiting for Irene staples but New Yorkers at Whole Foods on Columbus Circle supplemented the staples with sushi, Tibetan tofu rolls and coconut water.


In the beer aisle it’s just me and another guy calmly surveying our hurricane drinking choices. With the possibility of spending 72 hours indoors without the guarantee of any hotel services being available a few decent bottles were required. Having sampled the Coney Island Blockhead and Rogue Chipotle Ale earlier in the week I reverted to Californian and Japanese with Stone, Lagunitas and Hitachino with a Pretty Things thrown in for East Coast balance. It’s enough to ride out the storm but not be incapable should any evacuation be required.


Supplies in hand we head out to Columbus Circle. Queues are forming to get into the store and the missus has the satisfied look of I told you so. I was resistant to spending possibly hours in the Market. In the end I should have known she’s pretty much 95% right in most situations.

With the MTA (buses, trains and subways) shutting down on mass at midday on Saturday there was just enough time for breakfast and further stocking up at Barney Greengrass (bialys and herring being essential hurricane food) before heading back to the hotel to hunker down with a muted CNN and a good book.

Englishman in New York: Waiting for Irene