Our area, the college town of Columbia University, formally called Morningside Heights since the mid-1890s, is utterly untouched.
However, across the river, in New Jersey, there are no lights at all for a stretch of about four miles south of the George Washington Bridge along the Palisades Cliffs, visible from my window. No, that's not true: car lights are visible, and here and there there is what is clearly light from a generator in a single building. For another 2-1/2 miles south of this stretch there are only streetlights visible on clifftop (the river's edge is dark). Many people are going out to cafés for internet service or using outdoor power jacks to charge their phones and laptops, and then heading home to use them. I'm in touch with people living that way right now. (I pay the price of a simple landline and have an old phone connected directly to it — these things are powered directly by the phone company, so you always have service.)
Car traffic is heavier than usual outside my window and there have been more people than usual on the street. In my immediate neighborhood more than half the restaurants were open and packed with customers yesterday. The subways will be down for, we hear, another 4-7 days. And some of the tunnels under the East River are flooded and may be weeks or months away from useability. But the bridges are all right and partial bus service started yesterday afternoon; more began overnight. Columbia closed for two days but will open today — but half my students are too far from campus to attend class tomorrow, and I am moving to a partly on-line teaching arrangement for the short term. City College, many of whose students live in other boroughs, will remain closed today, and since it is being used for emergency housing for evacuees, I'm not sure when it will open or, when it does open, when students and instructors will be able to get to campus in strength.
In Tiáowéi 條圍, a now-demolished village in the suburbs of Fujian Lóngyán 福建龍岩 where I did a lot of fieldwork in the 1990s, there was an old sign from the 1959 Great Leap Forward [大躍進], painted on someone's wall (which of course the owner was not allowed to remove):
Prepare for war; prepare for famine; serve the people.
I am ready. I have always been ready. Being ready for this is part of the mindset of New Yorkers of my generation. When I saw that sign for the first time I felt there was nothing strange about it at all; it took some months for me to grasp what it meant.
Are others ready, too?