Inside R29: How Our Staffers Are Weathering Hurricane Sandy

When times are tough, R29ers get tougher. What started as a love-filled email chain encouraging co-workers to stay safe turned into stories of ingenuity, co-worker-on-co-worker kindness, and, in one case, a harrowing story of an entire shoe collection nearly lost. Fortunately everyone at R29 made it through safe and (mostly) sound, but not all New Yorker's had the same experience. We are so fortunate to have a great team, and to be relatively unscathed while many are suffering. Our hearts go out to those in need. But for a day-in-the-life of Sandy,check out how real New Yorkers (and R29ers, at that) are weathering the storm.

Sara McDowell, ad sales photo editor

"I live in Zone A in the East Village and obviously didn't participate in the 'mandatory' evacuation…why would I? I thought, 'How bad could it REALLY be?' I survived Irene by over-purchasing canned beans and Power Bars — it took me and my boyfriend almost six months to finish off all the beans. This time, I prepared with less caution and it turned into the flood of the century. I watched from my window as Avenue C turned into a gushing river. As the water rose, car alarms started going off and soon there was a chorus of alarms sounding throughout my neighborhood. It all seemed like it could be one great adventure and a good story… until I saw the green smoke exploding from the Con Ed building from my window. Everything went dark. I've been without power, heat, and water ever since. Having not showered in a couple days, the adventure has become much less 'fun.' I'm now in a hotel lobby hoping to charge my phone and answer work emails. It never occurred to me before this that ALL of my friends live below 24th Street. Praying for power!"

Julia Finch, commerce photo editor

"So I thought I'd send along photos by my friend, Casey Tatum, who lives in Stuy Town. We knew it was time to batten down the hatches when we saw that Starbucks was closing. I don't think I've ever seen a Starbucks close during the entire time that I've been living in the city."

Connie Wang, global editor
"Like most people downtown, I figured that power and cell phone service would be reinstated within a few hours after it went out on Monday night, or at least by Tuesday morning. Since I couldn't access the Internet, text anyone, or watch the news for information, my gut was all I was going off of. But after 12 hours, I decided to venture downstairs to get more provisions and figure out what was going on. After buying the last slices of pizza at Stromboli's (yay for wood-burning ovens... and sorry to everyone behind me in line — yikes), I found out that there was both power and cell service above 25th street and west of 5th Ave. I grabbed my roommates and headed north to charge our phones and call our loved ones before the sun set. There were a few stores that were charging people to plug their phones into outlets while price gouging for batteries and flashlights, but thanks to Brightbox, we were all charged before it got dark. I found out that the Williamsburg bridge was open, so I hailed a cab and fled to Brooklyn to wait out the power outage. Now I'm cozied up at my boyfriend's and working from creative director Piera Gelardi's place during the daytime."

Shawna Foulkes, brand integration associate

"I was scheduled to fly back from Virginia on Monday — the flight was obviously cancelled. I spent Sunday driving several hours to two VA airports, and watched as four out of five flights back to NYC were cancelled. I finally got one into JFK. 12 hours later, power, cell phone service, and Internet went out at my East Village apartment. Our building's electronic buzzer system went down, so our building is currently wide-open and accepting all sorts of people to come sleep on the hallway floor. So, I wake up today to large man sleeping outside my [apartment] door. Then, my carbon monoxide detector went off, so we took refugee at a hotel in the UWS. Much wine was had, and I got to enjoy my first shower in four days."

Sara Little, commerce account manager
"My husband's shop, Lost Weekend NYC, is making Blue Bottle coffee on a gas BBQ grill, as no one has had hot coffee in three days. You should see the party on Orchard Street. It was like zombies ambling toward caffeine... a little TOO post-apocalyptic."
Kristian Laliberte, senior editor
"You know that amazing feeling you get when you wake up and it's still dark and you think... 'yes, I can go back to bed!'? That was my Monday morning. And, it was actually way past my wake-up time of 8:30. My building's power had gone out inexplicably early, and my neighbors were saying things like 'blown fuse,' and 'circuit break.' Did I mention my A.C. had been ripped out of the wall, and with it, my window frame and window? Basically, it was the worst case of the Mondays I have ever had. Wind and water were whipping into my apartment. My makeshift shoe closet is next to the now-defunct air conditioning unit. Needless to say, shoes were everywhere, and I was freaking out....
"Thanks to my third floor neighbors — a charming gay couple from the Netherlands, Andre and Nicolaas — I didn't completely have a meltdown. They helped me get tape and plastic and rig up a temporary window, and transplanted boots, sneakers, and loafers — as well as my coffee table and couch, into the back of the building, even though they didn't have power of their own. By the time we were all cleaned up, the rest of the East Village had suffered our blackout. Because I couldn't cook them anything (not that I would have, but still), we went outside and found a gourmet pizza place on 1st Avenue that was still serving. I ordered us six giant slices ($4 each, but so worth it), and we ate it in the candlelight with other storm-battered New Yorkers. It's amazing how generous relative strangers can be here... and it's a nice coincidence that Nicolaas happens to be a size 10.5 shoe like me."
Charlene Chang and Alexandria Gurule, merchandise manager and marketing manager
"We downtown Sandy refugees floated up to my sisters place in UWS and had a power camp…never a down day at R29!"

Photos: (Clockwise from top) Courtesy of Casey Tatum, Charlene Chang, Sara McDowell, and Piera Gelardi


Patty Delgado, software engineer

"My roommate went out to get Chinese food at around 4 p.m. on Monday when this tree just fell right in front of him. We took that as a sign to stay indoors, so we uncorked some wine and played Scopa (an Italian card game) all night."

Christy Kurtz, senior photo editor
"We came across relatively unscathed, but here's a photo of the Williamsburg bridge I took last night. Brooklyn's on the left, Manhattan on the right. Eerie as hell."

Leila Brillson, global news editor
"So, I am totally prone to hyperbole … plus I certainly like to get swept up in things, so I was decently frightened by the prospect of Sandy. I seemed to have had the exact opposite experience as Sara McDowell: I bought tons of water, filled up my bathtub, charged my phone, had lots of extra batteries, and had loads of food and contingency plans. Because of some drama earlier in the day, I ended up holing-up solo, and prepared for a long night of watching movies 'til the power went out. My lights flickered. My cable got fuzzy. My Internet slowed. But nothing ever went out."


Megan McIntyre, beauty editor

"We got lucky in Clinton Hill and honestly didn't see anything too bad. Besides trying to get Elly (my dog) to pee in the middle of a hurricane, no strife or stories here."

Photos: Courtesy of Patty Delgado and Christy Kurtz

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