Chicken sandwiches, a gallon of milk, a carton of water bottles, and a face contorted in pain — Rashmi Kapoor, a petit IT professional, on Saturday morning struggled with her provisions as she headed home from an uptown Manhattan delicatessen.
The streets were filled with New Yorkers like Kapoor, rushing home with emergency stocks as the clouds grew dark and the air still as though in anticipation. Hurricane Irene, the biggest storm to hit New York since 1985, was coming.
The subway, which carries 5 million commuters, was shut down for the first time in New York City's history. Broadway shows were cancelled. Two days later, New Yorkers woke up to bright blue skies, and the talk of the town was a post on social media websites that spread like wildfire, capturing the sentiments of many in the city.
"Like many young women before her, Irene came to NYC hoping to be as big as she was in North Carolina, only to be ridiculed by the locals," went the tweet. The question on the street — and in newsrooms and the Internet was common. Had the government overreacted?
But the caution did mean that the city did not lose a single life to Irene, which claimed 16 across the country.