When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, New Yorkers watched in horror as residents climbed onto rooftops, stranded, or fled to shelters that provided precious little shelter. For all kinds of reasons—ranging from geography to confidence in government—New Yorkers believed that "it could never happen here."
But for a few days this fall, it very nearly did. In Manhattan, the moat itself became the enemy, as a storm surge swept over the island. Suddenly, Canal Street threatened to revert to a canal, and Chelsea was, by all accounts, Chel Sea. (The High Line park, 30 feet above the ground, was, for a time, the high and dry line.) Throughout Lower Manhattan, many residents found that, even when the waters receded, and even after the power came back on, there was so much damage—mostly to basement mechanical equipment—that buildings would be uninhabitable for months. Among those affected were celebrity residents of Richard Meier’s three West Village towers.