Sandy's come and gone but I'm still living under the crane

That dangling crane shown in the picture that made its way around the world in the hours after Sandy blew through? I live right underneath it.

A literal Sword of Damocles hanging over our neighborhood, it’s now been four days since the crane partially toppled, forcing the evacuation of my 12-floor building, among others on the block. Police have barricaded off the street. It’s still there.

I can’t go back. Well, I wasn’t supposed to go back.

I managed to sneak around one of police barricades on Thursday and get back into the building. I couldn’t stay. I gathered some of my things and left.

Now, like many others, I’m a Superstorm Sandy refugee. But I’m not put out of my house because a flood of ocean has taken my home, or left it in shambles. I’m not so much a hurricane refugee as a crane refugee. One who at least has the comfort of a friend’s couch, where I’m living until I can go back.

I had at least hoped there would be a timeline for my return, some resolution to this crazy crane limbo. To my chagrin, the only announcement thus far is that the crane may be stabilized by next week. A spotty answer, at best.

While I’m of course concerned about getting home, I’m more worried about the safety of my neighbors – some of whom have remained inside, despite the order to evacuate. Some city officials have said the crane is stable, and present no imminent threat. But no one seems to have a definite answer. I overheard a supposed crane expert on the news claim a piece of crane shrapnel can fall at any moment.

If that’s the case, why allow people to stay in the danger zone?

“We can go to the deli and that’s about it,” said one of my neighbors who remains in the building. “If you try to come back, they won’t let you back in. It’s like we’re on house arrest. They’re being very strict,” she said. “We’re in the frozen zone.”

The frozen zone indeed. I feel completely paralyzed, not knowing when this will end.

The only definite is that it continues to loom, over a neighborhood that has now been nearly cut off from the rest of civilization. Cops patrolling the area said Thursday they were unsure when the crane would be fixed. Until then, the surrounding area would be blocked off, with a strong police presence.

“The cops don’t know what to tell us. I think I’m going to stay at a friend’s tonight,” said another neighhor. “If I leave, I may not be able to get back in.  One cop said if it’s safe, he may let me in another entrance but that's a big maybe.  We’ll see.”

So as of today, it looks like I may be in for a long stay on the couch.  Of course, that's a lot better than those in this storm ravaged area who are facing rebuilding. After all, the crane must come down at some point.  Perhaps when I release my pent-up frustration for One57 I may consider living in the ultra luxurious complex but with one of the apartments going for $90 million it may take me a couple decades.