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College student from Gainesville rides out storm in NY
City's subway system crippled by flooding
A tree is split Tuesday morning in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, N.Y. - photo by Dan Washburn

New York City is never quiet and never empty, but Gainesville High graduate Taylor Hall said that’s what it has felt like since Hurricane Sandy began threatening off the coast.

“The storm proper hit at 7 or 8 o’clock last night,” Hall said. “And before then it was kind of deserted, which is a very strange sensation for New York City, very much.”

Power went out at 9:30 p.m., and officials at New York University, where Hall attends, have said it may not be back on until the weekend.

Cellphone reception also has been limited. Hall had to walk more than 20 blocks to get reception to call friends and family.

He is doing OK, though, as the university provides meals at dining halls that are running on emergency generators. He’s also got plenty of Pop-Tarts, beef jerky and bottled water, he said.

“I think I’ve been much luckier than a lot of people affected by this storm,” Hall said. “... I was down at 7th Street when the power went out and while that was going on, we filled up the bathtub and had water bottles ready and we whipped out the board games and pulled out all the flashlights.”

Dan Washburn, a former Times sports writer and Gainesville resident now living in Brooklyn, also considered himself lucky.

“We never lost power, never lost TV, and only briefly lost Internet access,” he wrote in an email. The storm did knock down several large trees, though, he said.

He and his wife are wondering how to get to work in Manhattan, though, as the subway system remains crippled due to flooding.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said it could be four or five days before the subway is running again. All 10 of the tunnels that carry New Yorkers under the East River were flooded, the worst damage in the system’s 108-year history.

As New York officials responded to flooding, West Virginia residents watched as the storm moved in as a blizzard.

Michael Steffen, a Hall County resident who is volunteering as part of the American Red Cross of Northeast Georgia, was still awaiting orders Tuesday afternoon while staying at a Days Inn in northern West Virginia, where the storm was producing up to 3 feet of snow.

“It’s been snowing all day, so they don’t want residents on the road yet,” he said. “We’re just hunkered down. That’s about all I can (say) right now. It’s all about safety and ... they are really trying to assess who needs the help and where they’ll put the resources.”

Staff writer Jeff Gill and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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