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Rock You Like a Hurricane – With Books! [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] [BOOK WEEK II]

Last week, I went through probably one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. Hurricane Sandy was barreling towards New York and I was right in her path. Stuck inside my flooded apartment, I was forced by my boss to find an uncongenial means to get to work. Without power, internet, and spotty cell phone service – I turned to books!

Yeah, big deal, we all have books.  But, in this case – they were my lifeline.

Stuck on the flooded New Jersey side of the Hudson River, and like thousands of others in my area, I was desperately trying to find a way across the river. While New York City is only a stone’s throw from the Jersey waterfront, in this case – it might have well been miles away.

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy.

The state was no help. With PATH trains and the Holland Tunnel flooded, the Lincoln Tunnel and George Washington Bridge quickly became parking lots. Not sure what to do, I decided to try and drive in. Driving in my neighborhood quickly became next to impossible. Streets were flooded or littered with debris, while others were sparks of downed live eclectic wires.

I was given permission from my boss to stay home for the day, but was told it was mandatory to report for work, tomorrow.

Years before moving to the New York metro area, I purchased several guides to familiarize myself with everything from subways to flea markets. Frommer’s New York City Guide 2006 and Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City.

I think I might have opened these books one other time before. Initially, I purchased these to read on my train commute to work, but never got around to really reading them. Since then, they have sat on a shelf collecting dust.

Reading by flashlight

Turns out… they were invaluable.  Lying in my bed, by flashlight, I was able to research the locations and operating hours of the various ferries that crossed the Hudson and I was back in business and on my way to work in the morning.

The books were outdated by more than half a decade, but when no electronics were available, they did the trick. I was able to take a simple tourists guide and figure out my way to work. My entire route was planned, including which streets I would have to walk and the location of the ferries.

The next morning, one of only a handful of spotty text messages to my dying cell phone confirmed the ferry was running.  Off I went and after a two hour commute – I made it in!

So, these two books that I purchased on a whim from a now closed Border’s bookstore years before came in handy.  When everyone’s IPAD, IPhone, and smart phones were out of commission, good old fashioned books saved the day!

The Hudson River swallows up streets with several feet of water.

THE 411

Titles: Frommer’s New York City guide & Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City
What: two guides to getting around NYC


This was the first time in probably a decade that I had to rely on a good old fashioned book to get around. While we’ve definitely entered the 21st century with our high tech gadgets, when the power was gone, and Mother Nature decided to show her wrath, I was lucky I hadn’t throw these things away.

My grandmother still has an old set of 1964 World Book Encyclopedia’s on an old dusty shelf upstairs in her home. She’s always reluctant to get rid of their outdated information. She always said; “You never know when you would need to go back to them.” Her logic kind of worked for me in the same way and I wanted to share. The fact is, I almost tossed these things during some spring cleaning earlier this year. Glad I didn’t! In fact, I may go and purchase the 2012 versions.

The point of my story is; while I could have downloaded the Kindle version years ago, nothing can replace the good old fashioned bound book. I stayed up that night and read for hours. In fact, I even learned a few things about New York City that I hadn’t before – even if they still listed the, now decommissioned, 9 and V subway lines. I will always have some type of good old fashioned reference book around and I suggest that you always have a map book handy for emergencies.

Image credits: locator