“You’re in Zone C,” a special Hurricane Irene version of Google Maps told me. “And you’ll maybe experience major flooding if the storm somehow gets a lot worse than it already is. But probably not.” Like the rest of Manhattan’s residents, it was time to panic/blow things out of proportion. Rushing past apocalyptically long-lined Duane Reades and empty city bakeries toward Target on 116th street, I prayed the droves of people cleaning out flashlight/water bottle aisles from Battery Park to Central Park hadn’t made it up to 116th st yet. I was wrong.

The flashlights (flashlight aisle pictured above) were nowhere to be found. In fact, it seemed almost everything in the store was gone, save for those Pringles, which no one seemed to be interested in. They’re way, way overpriced, after all. Nowhere near as good as regular potato chips. Still, we managed to stock our “emergency rations bunker closet” with everything we thought we would need.

With enough water to last us years and years, Hello Panda cookies from Chinatown, a medium-sized watermelon, and extra soy sauce, just in case something happened to the soy sauce I already had in the cupboard, we were ready. We taped the windows, said one last thoughtful compliment to each other (just in case they were our last words on earth. I was told I had nice calves), and began waiting it out.

Minutes turned to hours, and after unsuccessfully trying to find an english version of True Grit again and again for what seemed like days, it was finally morning. And it was time to survey the damage. In fact, as a self-titled “Hurricane Overreaction Correspondent” in my neighborhood of East Harlem, it was my duty to.

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East Harlem, though visibly bruised and battered, is eventually going to be okay. The trash cans uprooted can probably just be stood back up by people walking by who have an extra second or two, while the branches down may require two people (as per the OSHA regulations I remember from working at Target) to remove them from the sidewalk.

A rough estimate of the damages in East Harlem due to Irene run, at this point, about $14 – $16, depending on how many issues of “El Especialito” were contained in the El Especialito newspaper machine pictured above. That number could have easily reached $2014, if that branch had hit that car.

Hurricane Irene-Survival Stories from Zone C

The real fallen “heroes” of East Harlem, however, are the cheap deli-bought black umbrellas. Though these $7-$10 items don’t normally make it through a regular rainstorm in New York, anyway, we found an unseasonably high number of them within a few blocks this morning. They did the best they could, and we’re proud of their sacrifices.

Hurricane Irene-Survival Stories from Zone C-2

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Perhaps the strangest and most alarming piece(s) of debris found is pictured below. Whether it was one person who lost a relatively decent looking Nike shoe, bottom jaw dentures and leather mask, or three separate people, it should be noted that these items appear to be okay. To the owner(s): if you’re out there, and if you’re looking for these things, they’re just past the 110th street 6 train stop going west. By the dumpsters. Hurry, because the looters’ll grab these up so quick if you don’t.

Hurricane Irene-Survival Stories from Zone C-3

Though the hurricane was not nearly as bad in Manhattan as Bloomberg yelled to us on the television, there’s still a lot of damage elsewhere and a good amount of people who didn’t make it. My heart goes out to their families.