I was doing my New York Sunday Afternoon, shopping at B&H, when I was told that the Port Authority Bus Terminal had been closed an hour earlier. Fortunately, you can't always trust what camera store salespeople say, and this turned out to be bad information.
But it did give me the biggest scare that I've ever had when travelling.
Penny and I had been planning on leaving that night on an overnight Greyhound to Toronto, so I had left our luggage at the hotel and spent the day walking around while she was in a seminar. So I was on my own as I scrambled to the station to see what was happening, leaving the bags safely checked in case I needed to try to regain a room at our hotel, all the while dreading what I would find and the chaos of having our plans collapse. Since the station was still open – thanks, BH guy with the idiotic grin – I hustled back to the New Yorker, grabbed our bags, and practically ran back to join the Toronto-bound line.
There must have been over two hundred of people in front of me.
They loaded a couple of buses shortly after I got there, and then pulled more people out of the line as they sought people for specific destinations. That still only brought me half-way up the line, which was starting to double over on itself. The airports had been closed four hours before, so the bus was the last way to get out of the city before the storm would hit the next day.
Penny's seminar was all the way down in Greenwich Village, thirty blocks south of the Port Authority terminal. Public transit was shutting down, and I had no reception for my cell phone where I was waiting so far underground. Everyone else was looking to the front of the line for news and hope, but I spent an hour and a half looking back at the stairs she would have to come down. I didn't relax until I spotted her, but after that everything was going to be okay.
Greyhound did a stellar job trying to put on extra buses and drivers to meet the demand. At 8:30PM they had three buses load for runs to Syracuse, Buffalo, and Toronto. We were among the last to board our bus, and the line for our gate – serving only those three cities – probably held another four or five hundred people when we left. One bus seats only a little over fifty, and the terminal shut down its operations less than an hour and a half after we got out.
This photo was taken at the Chelsea Piers, on the Hudson river around 18th street. I haven't been able to find out how this area fared in the storm, but I can't imagine that it escaped unscathed.