Archive for November, 2012
Election Tuesday started out early for me, headed to Stark County, Ohio, designated by various pundits and pollsters to be a “bell weather” county that would presumably forecast the outcome of the presidential race. On a last-minute assignment for a Chilean sunday magazine, the writer and I faced a minor logistical set-back: By the time we arrived around lunch time, most people had already voted and were at work. Downtown Canton resembled the set of a zombie movie, devoid of any surviving human extras. View the rest of this entry »
Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012: Chan Yin is a home health aide who looks after 93-year-old Liang Xiushi in the apartment she shares with her husband on the 7th floor of 16 Monroe Street in Knickerbocker Village. Without electricity, she is unable to operate Ms. Liang’s hospital bed to prop her up while feeding her, or to lift her out of bed. Their apartment has been without heat, hot water or cooking gas for almost two weeks now.
After the lights went out in Lower Manhattan, making a decision on what area to cover in the following days wasn’t difficult. I had spent time over the past few months photographing in NYC’s Chinatown community, slowly getting to know the neighborhood and some people there.
During the four days of the black-out, the community had to made do with whatever improvised resources were at hand. Residents relied on flashlights and candles; high rise apartment buildings lost running water and elevator service, a hardship especially for the neighborhood’s many elderly residents who were stranded on the higher floors. In a linguistically insular community of large numbers of recent immigrants there was an information blackout as much as there was power failure, and many residents were left in the dark as to what city services were available and when amenities, schools and transportation might be restored. Many people in this mostly working class community work in informal and service sector jobs or run small businesses, and they were losing desperately needed income every day businesses were shuttered in the wake of the storm.