Former Quad-Citians are surviving Sandy


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Originally Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2012, 8:50 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 30, 2012, 8:51 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

Moline native Jon Perez has lived in New York City just two years, but he's already been through two titanic hurricanes — Irene in August 2011 and Sandy this week.

"I have power; the storm itself was not that bad around here, but things are at a standstill right now," Mr. Perez, an actor, said Tuesday from his apartment in Sunnyside, Queens. "Nobody can get to work."

The 2001 Moline High School graduate is warehouse manager for Broadway New York, which sells Broadway-related merchandise in Times Square. The subway system is likely shut down through the end of the week, said Mr. Perez, whose family owns Adolph's Mexican Foods in the Quad-Cities.

He considers himself lucky compared to the six million people without electricity along the Eastern Seaboard. His boss lives in Hoboken, N.J., which has been devastated by Sandy.

Mr. Perez also is well inland from Breezy Point, Queens, which had massive fires that destroyed 80 homes.

"Most of the city infrastructure is over 100 years old, and this is the only time anything like this has ever happened," he said. "I went through Irene, and this is by far worse than Irene was."

Mr. Perez still has batteries he bought while stocking up for Irene, the hurricane that killed 56 people on the East Coast. So far, Sandy is responsible for at least 50 deaths in eight states, including 11 in New York City.

"One thing people don't really think of is, unlike Moline, our power lines are underground," Mr. Perez said, noting that some businesses were open Tuesday in his neighborhood. He's eager to get back to work.

"My rent is due Thursday, and I can't pay with my good looks," he said.

On the upper west side of Manhattan, life is fairly normal other than no subways, said Marianna Caldwell, an Iowa native, 2007 St. Ambrose grad and master's student in theater at Columbia.

On Monday, when classes were cancelled, one of her professors had a mini-class at her apartment. Ms. Caldwell walked 32 blocks to get there and got soaked on the way home.

"The wind was really bad," she said. "I live in an unaffected area. Luckily, there's no flooding, blackouts. I never lost power.

"I'm a grad student so having a couple days to catch up on sleep, do work, has been really great," Ms. Caldwell said. "My two roommates work at restaurants, and they can't get into work."

InPhiladelphia, former Augustana College education professor Melissa McBain lost power Monday night and is staying with her son Andrew, who lives close by and has electricity.

"There are many streets that were flooded, but my street was not flooded," she said. "The street was completely dark. It looked like everyone in my neighborhood lost power."

Ms. McBain, a professional playwright who will return to Rock Island at the end of November to see her play "Altar Call," wrote on Facebook Tuesday morning:

"Yogurt by candlelight. All power out except water. If I had a roommate I would be challenging every time he/she opened the freezer, but alas I only have me to argue with. My house is an obstacle course now with my wicker porch furniture in my little living room. My dogs don't understand all the candles or the weird hat I wore to walk them this morning. So far it is an adventure but my patience hasn't really been tried yet."

Staying with Augie students in 2010 at a remote retreat center in Washington State with no phone or radio and intermittent power from shared generators prepared her for this ordeal, Ms. McBain said. In Philly, she was in pretty good shape, having stocked up on water and non-perishable food.

"It is unnerving to wake up in the dark and cold," Ms. McBain said.

In New Haven, Conn., Bettendorf native Kelly Hill also is coping with the ominous weather.

"The sky was really dark. Things were very still," she said Tuesday. "When I woke up yesterday morning, it was windy, and really a fine rain, not really heavy. The winds were up to 50 miles an hour. It was consistent during the day. We had a tree branch fall, which destroyed a picnic table behind our house. But we've had power in the neighborhood."

An opera singer and 2004 Bettendorf High alumnus, Ms. Hill is in graduate school at the Yale School of Music, where classes were canceled Monday and Tuesday. Before the hurricane hit, grocery stores were "pretty nuts — people pushing each other, and they had to wait in line forever.

"Along the coastal areas, there's a lot of flooding happening," south of New Haven, Ms. Hill said. "Only my roommate has a car, and she put it in a parking garage for safe keeping. We're watching Netflix, playing Uno, trying to do homework.

"It takes a natural disaster for us to take a break," she said, adding she has a big concert this weekend — which her parents plan to fly in for, if possible.

Last Sunday, she said, "we had a double rehearsal just in case."




Q-C airport has minimal cancellations

High winds in Chicago, remnants of Sandy moving westward, have affected a few Quad City International Airport flights, leading to delays and cancellations to O'Hare, Q-C airport spokeswoman Cathie Rochau said Tuesday.

"I believe this was anticipated to happen in the hurricane forecasting, that it would have an effect on the Great Lakes," she said. "So far we have had one American Eagle cancellation, around lunch time, and already two Chicago flights on United are set as cancelled on our flight boards as well."

For updated information on airport arrivals and departures, visit qcairport.com.

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