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NYC disaster hits home

Locals connect with loved ones; some with local ties brave storm

October 31, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - Local residents with family and friends in the greater New York City area were reaching out to their loved ones Tuesday in the wake of the hurricane that wreaked havoc on the city.

Some were successful while others were still waiting for that reassuring phone call.

"My daughter's on Long Island, and I can't get a hold of her at all," Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau told the Enterprise Tuesday afternoon. "I've tried calling her, I've tried email and Facebook, and I called her brothers and sisters, and nobody's heard from her. I'm sure they're OK, but they're on the north shore, on Long Island Sound. I'm sure she's without power."

Article Photos

Medical workers assist a patient into an ambulance during an evacuation of New York University's Tisch Hospital Monday. Beck Brown, an NYU nurse whose father Phil lives in Saranac Lake, helped the New York City hospital move out more than 200 patients after its backup generator failed when the power was knocked out by a superstorm.
(AP photo — John Minchillo)

Saranac Lake resident Steve Erman said he was able to reach his daughter Molly Erman, a 2003 graduate of Saranac Lake High School, who works as a publicist and lives in Lower Manhattan, one of areas hit hardest by the storm.

"Molly stayed in the city, just outside of the Red Zone evacuation area," Erman said in a Facebook message. "She called briefly at 9:00 or so (Monday night) to say that the explosion at the Con Ed power facility on the East Side took out their power. Heard from her this morning that she was fine."

Saranac Lake native Kat Morris, a 2005 SLHS graduate, waited out the storm at the Marriott hotel near Times Square, where she works as a manager, according to her mom, Karen Morris.

"Initially I was worried over the weekend because we were watching this thing coming and hearing all the predictions," Karen Morris said. "Saturday night she called us and said they were putting all their employees up at the hotel so they didn't have to travel. Once she told me that she was going to stay put, I was really relieved."

Still, Morris said she kept texting her daughter during the storm.

"Every time I saw something, I felt the need to tell her about it even though she was right there. Like when the picture of the crane came up, I texted her saying, 'Do you realize several blocks from you there's this crane dangling from the building?' She said she knew about it. She said it was really eerie because Times Square was totally dead. It was so quiet."

Becky Brown, daughter of Saranac Lake resident and Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown, was at the center of one of the biggest stories during the storm. Brown is a pediatric nurse at New York University Hospital Medical Center, which had to be evacuated Monday night after it lost power and its backup generators failed.

Brown said the hospital's most critical patients, roughly 20 babies in the neonatal intensive care unit and another 15 children in the pediatric ICU, both on the ninth floor, were the first to be brought down to waiting ambulances by teams of nurses. Since there was no power, they had to use the stairwells.

"It took a crew of five people to bring down one tiny baby," Brown told the Enterprise from her apartment in Huntington, Long Island, Tuesday night. "One nurse was holding the baby, another person was squeezing an Ambu bag to pump oxygen to the baby, another nurse was holding the IV pump, another nurse was holding the oxygen tank. It was pitch black. People had flashlights to light the stairway. Step by step, people were shouting 'Left foot, right foot.' It was such teamwork."

It was 4 a.m. Tuesday by the time all the hospital's patients had been evacuated, Brown said.

"We had all worked since 8 in the morning (on Monday), but once this happened, we realized we needed to pull together and take care of these kids," Brown said. "It was just such a dire situation, we had to keep going."

Phil Brown said he was nervous and concerned for his daughter's safety. He said he tried stay in touch with her via Facebook and closely followed news reports of what was happening at the hospital.

After hearing his daughter's story first-hand Tuesday night, Brown posted on his Facebook page that she and her colleagues likely saved dozens of lives.

"When I told Becky I thought she was a hero, she told me, 'I'm just glad all the babies are OK," Brown wrote.

Ned Rauch, a former Saranac Lake resident and Enterprise reporter who now writes for The Journal News in Westchester County, spent much of the day and night Monday visiting storm-ravaged communities along Long Island Sound.

"The damage we've seen is lots and lots of trees down, lots of wires down, huge numbers of people without power and some flooding along the coast," Rauch told the Enterprise late Tuesday afternoon. "One of my colleagues and I, we were driving along Interstate 95. We were the only car on the road for a while, and there were massive trees across three lanes. It was really kind of a wild, 'Mad Max,' 'Road Warrior' kind of situation. You had to find your own way to where you were going and make up your own rules along the way. It was crazy."

Rauch slept in a conference room at the newspaper's offices Monday night. He said he hoped to finally get home to Brooklyn Tuesday night.



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