New Yorkers Trek to Keep Gadgets Powered in Sandy’s Wake
Rian Cochran, right, and his sister Abby hunkered down in an uptown café after their laptop batteries finally died.
CREDIT: Sean Captain
Residents of the city that never sleeps also loathe letting their gadgets sleep. But for the lower third of Manhattan, and a great deal of the Tri-State area, getting power requires an expedition. And with electrical service expected to be out for several more days in many blackout neighborhoods, it's an ongoing struggle.
Jenny Friedman, 33, travelled up First Avenue by bicycle on Tuesday (Oct. 30) from her home on 20th Street all the way up to the 50's — about a mile — and went to buy candles at Duane Reade, a local drugstore chain. "There were these pockets of two and three people at every [electrical] outlet," Friedman told TechNewsDaily.
Today, Friedman had settled into one of the Cosi chain of cafes, on Third Ave. and 44th St. Nearly every table was bedecked with a laptop as patrons traded off access to limited outlets and hopped on the free Wi-Fi.
"We could only have a few [outlets] going here, but some people had power strips so that upped it significantly," said Rian Cochran, 31.
Cochran, who lives in Norway, has been visiting his sister, Abby Cochran, 25, who lives at 20th St. and First Ave. "Up until today we had battery charge on our computers. So we could charge our cellphones," he explained. (Cochran expects to make it back to Norway, as his Saturday flight from Newark airport has not been cancelled.)
At one point, a café employee announced that any patrons not "dining" would have to give up their seats for other customers, but he didn't return to press the issue.
Many other businesses were also very accommodating. The chic Ace Hotel at W. 29th St. and Broadway (just above the blackout zone in that part of town) was not allowing non-guests into the lobby Tuesday. But it did set up banks of power strips outside for people to charge, reported Lee James, whose apartment in the Peter Cooper housing complex had gone dark. James went uptown to sleep on a mattress in her clothing showroom and get online.
Masses were also huddling by outlets outside the city, but often in rougher conditions. In Summit, NJ, a middle school that had been converted into a shelter had also set up a charging and Wi-Fi station, reported Michael Doran, senior editor of Newsarama, a sister site to TechNewsDaily.
Other people were providing their own power sources. According to Daniel Berg, a staff writer at Laptopmag.com (also a sister site to TechNewsDaily), his friend Jasmin Stevenson in Hackensack, NJ had been driving around her darkened neighborhood, using the car's dashboard outlet to charge gadgets. Another friend of Berg's in Ambler, PA (no name given) was doing the same in his neighborhood.
Back at the Cosi café on 3rd Ave., a woman named Ella, 26, who had travelled from below Houston St., suddenly remembered that she was supposed to move today. "That's not going to happen," she said. And it wouldn't have helped her power dilemma. She would be moving farther downtown to the Financial District.