In August 2011 we were on our way home from spending a summer in Central America when we stopped over in NYC to visit my family. Little did we know we were arriving as Hurricane Irene started to sweep up from where we had just left and was hitting straight for us in New York. Being a Geographer I was fascinated; experiencing first hand the preparation for a hurricane. Boarding up the windows, stocking up on provisions and coming up with a plan of what to do if the promised twisters, which were forecast for the path we were in, hit the house. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. The media coverage was almost comical, I had never before seen such use of hyperbole. We heard that Times Square was shutting down and being cleared and it was killing us that the transit system had shut down and we couldn't get there. Well, that is until my brother-in-law kindly offered to drive us from Queens into Manhattan.
It was eerie, the only other traffic on the road belonged to the emergency services. Macy's was completely board up, for the first time in it's history. Times Square was emptying of life when we arrived, this was the last weatherman reporting live. Within 20 minutes only a few tourists staying in a nearby hotel and a few cops were left wandering the empty streets. The lights were still on but there was nobody home. The rain started to come heavily so we jumped back in the car and had a speedy journey back to Queens. That night no one in the house really slept, each howling wind made us fear internally that a twister was coming. With two beautiful babies in the house the exhilaration was quickly overshadowed by fear.
Thankfully my sister's house escaped any damage, the hurricane changed path and went back out to sea just before it hit us, but severe flooding ensued and this is still one of the costliest (monetary costs) hurricanes to hit the USA since 1972.