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Mom Of Premature Baby Evacuated From NYU During Hurricane Sandy: 'I Just Lost It'

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NYU NICU
Jo-An Tremblay Shepherd

NEW YORK -- When Jo-An Tremblay-Shepherd, 34, set out from her Brooklyn apartment on Monday morning to visit NYU’s Langone Medical Center neonatal intensive care unit, she expected to ride out the storm with her hospitalized son Jackson, who was born prematurely, at 27 weeks, on Aug. 31. She wasn't expecting that a half-day later, she would watch a NICU nurse carry her baby and his oxygen tank down nine flights of slippery stairs, guided only by flashlight.

“It was wet, and it was dark," Tremblay-Shepherd told HuffPost. "The nurse had to take him down the stairs for liability reasons. It was crazy to watch."

According to NYU, 20 babies were evacuated from the NICU early on Tuesday after power went off and the hospital's backup generators failed. Lorinda Klein, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said some patients whose breathing had been assisted by machines "were being bagged,” meaning hospital workers manually squeezed air into their lungs.

Tremblay-Shepherd said her son requires relatively minimal oxygen support, which doesn't require electricity. But his monitors do. After the hospital went "pitch black" at just after 8 p.m. on Monday, the first-time mom said she sat with her son, watching for signs he was okay.

“Jackson has been with us for two months now, and he has been on the monitor all that time,” said Tremblay-Shepherd. “It was a rude awakening for me not to have a screen tell me his heart rate and how he was oxygenating. I had to really go with my instinct.”

What happened then, she said, did not seem particularly well-organized despite the best intentions from nurses Tremblay-Shepherd had come to adore. Nurses regularly checked on her and told her the hospital was being evacuated, with higher-risk babies going first. As the night dragged on, Tremblay-Shepherd questioned the need to bring her tiny son out into the storm. But at around 3 a.m., she said, police and firefighters announced it was time.

“They basically told us, 'Just grab the baby and go,'” she said. “It happened so fast, I grabbed the bag I’d packed with stuff he’d need, but I forgot mine.”

After waiting downstairs at NYU for a half-hour, they left in an ambulance. First stop was the wrong hospital in the Bronx. Some time after 4 a.m., she estimated, she and Jackson were finally settled at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

“This is my first baby, so I don’t really know, but you hear a lot of stories about parents in general keeping it together when shit hits the fan," she said. Once Jackson was safely admitted to Montefiore, "I went to the parents’ room and I just lost it,” she said, beginning to sob. “It’s hard enough to have a baby born prematurely, but to have this on top. … It was a bit much.”

Montefiore accepted six babies from NYU's NICU, said Zahava Cohen, the administrative nurse manager at Montefiore's Weiler Division. The hospital had been told to expect four infants, she said. None of the babies were on respirators, but they needed to be closely monitored to make sure they were breathing properly and staying warm.

“The doctors and nurses from NYU said they were willing to take [those two] somewhere else,” Cohen said. “But a lot of them had been working since 7 in the morning. They just all looked wasted.” Doctors, nurses and the three sets of parents who were there with their babies were given cookies, orange juice and fruit, and were given blankets and throws if they wanted to sleep. Cohen said that by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, all of the parents had been contacted.

NYU's Klein said all of the babies were transferred safely.

Cohen said she is in contact with the manager of the Langone NICU, handling matters that include transferring a large amount of one evacuee's breast milk from NYU, where she fears it will spoil.

"I'm bordering on [being] awestruck by the situation," Cohen said. "I've been doing this for 30 years. I lived in Florida during Andrew. I have never been involved in a NICU evacuation." Though the transfers kept the babies safe and warm, the parents have “aged 50 years” in the days since, she said.

Tremblay-Shepherd said she's exhausted and doesn't know what's next for Jackson. He has been given a slightly higher dose of oxygen -- a setback she attributes, in part, to the storm. She still hopes to take him home in a couple weeks. For now, she plans to drive between the hospital and the Brooklyn apartment she and her husband share with their dogs.

"I’m so proud," she said of her son. "He’s a fighter. And I’m going to have some pretty interesting stories to tell him."

*************************

The Huffington Post is eager for insights from our community, especially people with experience in power, infrastructure and engineering, on the adequacy of emergency preparation in advance of Hurricane Sandy, and the degree to which past disasters have informed adequate planning and construction. Please send a note to sandytips@huffingtonpost.com with insights and suggestions for the important questions that need to be asked of relevant private sector and government officials, and point us toward stories that need to be pursued.

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HuffPost's Katie Bindley reports:

Like all the competitors who trained for the 2012 NYC Marathon, Hannah Vahaba will not be running the race this year. But she also will never forget her moment at the finish line. After traveling in from Atlanta, Vahaba picked up a marriage proposal in Central Park on Saturday without having to traverse the 26.2-mile course.

"This is my fiance," said Vahaba, 31, who had tears running down her face as she stood in Central Park where the race would have ended, just moments after Martin O'Donoghue had proposed.

marriage proposal cancelled nyc marathon

Photo by Damon Scheleur

Read the full story here.

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Be sure to check donation lists to see what items are needed. For example, at one Staten Island donation center, there is a critical need for batteries batteries batteries, candles, matches, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, pet food, baby supplies, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner. Clothing isn't needed as much at that center.

-Catharine Smith, HuffPost

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HuffPost's Tim Stenovec reports:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which killed at least 48 people in New York when it battered the Northeast last week, frustrated residents in this corner of South Brooklyn are coping without electricity, heat and running water.

Read the full story here.

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Huntington Patch reports:

At a massive food distribution event at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Cuomo said power has been restored to 60 percent of the New York metropolitan area.

LIPA reported Saturday evening that 460,000 customers remained without power, down from more than 900,000 initially.

"I've warned the utility companies repeatedly they operate under a state charter, essentially," Cuomo said. "The utility companies are not happy with my warning and frankly, I don't care."

"The customers are not happy. The bill payers are not happy and the people without power are not happy," Cuomo said. "People are suffering. It is an issue of safety and if the utilities were not prepared we will hold them accountable."

Read the full story on Huntington Patch.

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Even as power returns to parts of the region assailed by Hurricane Sandy, millions of drivers seeking gasoline appear likely to face at least several more days of persistent shortages.

Read the full story here.

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HuffPost's Bianca Bosker:

On Saturday, 27-year-old Kate Frasca was manning Con Edison’s Twitter account, @ConEdison, responding to customers’ frustrations, questions, praise and criticism at an average clip of one tweet every six minutes.

Read the full story here.

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@ USACE_HQ : Roughly 600 M gallons of storm water infiltrated the nation’s busiest and oldest underground mass transit system... http://t.co/5jMXDhRc

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@ MikeBloomberg : If you would like to donate: visit http://t.co/9w8egqxD So far million has been contributed. 100% of funds go to #Recovery efforts.

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@ usNWSgov : Post #Sandy reminders: never touch a downed power line or anything touching one. Washing your hands prevents illness. #NWS #CDC

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@ NYCMayorsOffice : Volunteers Descend on Staten Island Neighborhood http://t.co/9aP3ggJN

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@ usNWSgov : Temps near the freezing mark expected tonight in areas affected by #Sandy. Those without power should prepare for a cold night. #NWS #nywx

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HuffPost's Ben Hallman reports:

For hours, giant waves crashed against Rockaway Beach, making a tremendous roar that could be heard up and down the 11-mile peninsula. "We kept constant watch on the boardwalk," said Diane Hudson, who lives on a high floor in a building about a half block from the Atlantic Ocean. "There was no water on it, so we thought we were OK."

Then she got a call from her boss, and close friend, David Gotthelf, who had just moved into a ground-floor apartment about a mile and a half away, on Beach 115th Street.

"The water is coming in," Hudson said Gotthelf told her. "What do I do? What do I do?"

Hudson looked out the window. In a matter of just a few minutes, the dark ocean had filled the parking lot. The boardwalk was gone. "Just get up on a high place," she said she told her friend. "Get on your bed."

That was the last time anyone talked to Gotthelf, who died Monday night or Tuesday morning, as far as Hudson knows.

Read the full story here.

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From The New York Times:

The L line from Manhattan to Brooklyn, however, remained flooded Saturday, from what Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, described as “wall to wall” inundation. The G train tunnel was flooded as well and is not expected to be back in service until later this week.'

Read the full story here.

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New Jersey voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy will be able to vote either electronically or by fax under an order issued by state officials on Saturday. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), who is also New Jersey's secretary of state, said that voters can request a ballot be sent to them by their local county clerk via email or fax and then return it to the county the same way.

“This has been an extraordinary storm that has created unthinkable destruction across our state and we know many people have questions about how and where to cast their vote in Tuesday’s election," Guadagno said in a statement. "To help alleviate pressure on polling places, we encourage voters to either use electronic voting or the extended hours at county offices to cast their vote."

Guadagno also said that first responders in the state who are stationed away from their home can use the same method to vote.

Guadagno's decision follows previous orders to extend early voting hours at county elections offices statewide over the weekend. Gov. Chris Christie (R) indicated that the state was printing additional provisional ballots to allow those displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote in another location due to the storm.

-- John Celock, HuffPost

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Francis Ng was ready to run a marathon in New York City on Sunday but now the Toronto marathoner is instead looking to pitch in as the region recovers from this week's massive storm.

He's just one of the many Canadian runners who found out too late that the New York City Marathon was canceled, a race that draws more than 47,000 entrants.

Other athletes from Canada and many from around the world were already on the way to the Big Apple when the mayor's office cancelled one of the world's largest marathons. The 2011 edition of the marathon drew 1,200 Canadians and more than half of the race's participants are from outside of the United States.

Ng found out at at the airport departure lounge in Toronto that the race was canceled, so instead of running through the five boroughs on Sunday morning, he's now looking to make a trip up to the Bronx to volunteer at Pelham Bay Nature Center.

Read the full story here

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HuffPost’s Betsy Isaacson Reports:

Even with bicycle generators to charge phones, people in downtown Manhattan did not have working internet through Friday, Nov. 2, when power finally started to return to the grids there. The massive New York City power outage caused by Hurricane Sandy left thousands of New Yorkers without connection to the outside world, unable to check on relatives or secure information unless they walked or took a cab uptown, where the city had power.

With power now back on in Lower Manhattan, age-old ways of trading information will likely give way to texting and wireless connections. A copy of The New York Times will no longer be worth more than . Will New Yorkers miss it?

Read the full story here.

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HuffPost's Gerry Smith reports:

Heavy flooding this week at Verizon’s headquarters in lower Manhattan -- a critical node of its network infrastructure -- has begun to subside, but the company's effort to repair damaged network equipment and restore service to customers after Hurricane Sandy continues.

Read the full story here.

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HuffPost's Lynne Peeples reports:

Among the wreckage removed in Joplin, Mo., after the 2011 tornado was 2,600 tons of asbestos debris.

"That was a small community," said Linda Reinstein, president of the nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. "Do the math, and we can recognize that we have a significant public health risk with Hurricane Sandy."

With wind and water damage caused by Sandy compromising the integrity of homes, schools and other buildings along much of the East Coast, health experts warn of increased risks of exposure to a variety of environmental toxins. One of the most worrisome, they say, is asbestos. Much of the compromised construction materials, including roofing, piping and insulation, could contain the microscopic mineral fibers. And while a person generally can't see it, smell it or taste it, they can breathe it and ingest it -- and the consequences can be severe.

Read the full story here.

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@ AP : BREAKING: New York City mayor says gas station shortages could take a few days to fully be resolved -RJJ

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New York Magazine has released a sneak peek of its latest cover, and wow is it stunning.

The editors explain the photo choice here:

A photograph taken by Iwan Baan on Wednesday night, showing the Island of Manhattan, half aglow and half in dark, was the clear choice, for the way it fit with the bigger story we have tried to tell here about a powerful city rendered powerless. We crammed back into the conference room, raced to finish our pages, and hoped, like other New Yorkers, that everyone would find the lights on when they got home.

See the pic here.

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Photos have begun to emerge comparing regions of the East Coast before and after the storm. Click here to view an interactive set of photos documenting the disturbing contrast.

before after photos

-Jake Bialer, HuffPost

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If you're out volunteering, share your stories with us. Use Twitter or Instagram and tag your photos #volunteersandy. Or you can submit your photos here.

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From The Associated Press:

The government says the public should stay away from free New York fuel stations until emergency responders get their gas.

Long lines of vehicles and pedestrians formed Saturday after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the U.S. Department of Defense was opening the mobile fuel stations in New York City and on suburban Long Island.

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Under orders from President Obama through FEMA, the Defense Logistics Agency and National Guard, there are new shipments of fuel available at five locations in New York area and at four locations in New Jersey.

In New York, fuel is available at the Queens Armory, 93-05 160th St., Jamaica, NY 11433; Bronx Armory, 10 West 195th St.,Bronx, NY 10468, Brooklyn Armory, 1579 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225, the Staten Island/Elizabeth Armory, 321 Manor Rd., Staten Island, NY 10314, and the Freeport Armory, 63 Babylon Turnpike, Freeport NY 11520

In New Jersey, fuel is available at the Teaneck Armory,1799 Teaneck Road, Teaneck NJ 07666, the West Orange armory at1315 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange NJ 07052, the Freehold armory at 635 Park Ave., Freehold NJ 07728, and at the former Plainfield armory at Plainfield,NJ.

The New Jersey National Guard continues to deliver fuel to first responders, using nine tanker trucks provided by the Pennsylvania National Guard.

-- HuffPost's David Wood

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The owners of New Jersey's NJ Skateshop are desperately trying to collect winter clothes for neighbors without heat and members of their community who were left homeless by Hurricane Sandy, as a Nor'easter is forecast to hit the stricken area next week.

Co-owner Chris Nieratko reports two of the shop's four stores have electricity and have been stocked with power strips to allow residents to charge their phones and "pretend things were normal if only for a while." But many are ill-equipped to handle the incoming storm, he writes, and are already struggling: "Seeing your children cold and hungry is a feeling I never want any of you to experience."

Nieratko is asking for shipments of any winter clothing to the store's New Brunswick location, from which they will distribute to people in need:

I have no TV so I don't know what you're hearing on the news, but let me tell you, it's bad. Very bad..we've opened to the door to anyone with children. For days we ran generators sparingly because there was no gas...

There's another storm coming. Temperatures are dropping. Things are getting colder and even scarier. I am writing to you to ask for your help in clothing the displaced, homeless, under-dressed skaters in our community and their families...If you have anything warm (socks, sweatshirts, jackets, beanies, gloves, shoes, tees, ANYTHING) doesn't matter if it's 5 seasons ago...there are many in need from very young to very big XXL. Anything you can spare to help people stay warm will be appreciated.

Please send whatever you're able to (and there's no box too small) to our New Brunswick shop:

NJ TWO 29-B Easton Ave

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Label the box HURRICANE RELIEF

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Photo of National Guard in South Beach, Staten Island, today.

hurricane

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Deer Park-North Babylon Park Patch reports:
Harold Jamison will make it to the Tanger Outlet center this afternoon to see Ben Affleck's "Argo."

"That movie is so good, I have to see it. I'm not missing it. It's about the 1979 Iran conflict and there is old TV video clips and everything," Jamison said.

But first, he was living his own 1970s-style flashback, a nearly three-hour wait to get gas in Deer Park in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Jamison was in line to get gas at the Deer Park Express station on the corner of Deer Park and Long Island avenues. He was still idling around the corner on Lake Avenue and E. 4th Street. In 90 minutes, he had moved two blocks.

Read the full story, and check out Mark's excellent "Sweet Daddy" jacket on Deer Park-North Babylon Park Patch.

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HuffPost's Sam Stein reports:

WASHINGTON -- Before hitting the campaign trail for his final swing before the election, President Barack Obama on Saturday stopped by the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington for a briefing on Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

"We still have a long way to go to make sure that the people of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and some of the surrounding areas get their basic needs taken care of and we get back to normalcy," Obama said, adding that the situation continues to be his "number one priority."

The president emphasized five components of recovery: getting power back on as quickly as possible, pumping water out of flooded areas, making sure people's basic needs are taken care of, debris removal and getting transportation systems up and running again.

"Our hearts continue to go out to those families who have been affected, who have actually lost loved ones," Obama said. "That's obviously heartbreaking. But I'm confident that we will continue to make progress as long as state and local and federal officials stay focused."/blockquote>

Read more here.

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OurAmazingPlanet reports:

With coastal communities in New York and New Jersey still reeling from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, the last thing the area needs is another storm. But that's exactly what it might get.

A nor'easter is predicted to potentially hit the East Coast next Wednesday (Nov. 7), and beach erosion experts are concerned about further damage to shorelines devastated by Sandy.

Read the full story here.

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