I've never experienced a hurricane before. I was stranded in Denver two years ago after a tornado formed at the airport. I was all shook up by a mild earthquake while in Japan in 2009. But a hurricane is its own entity; there is a weird, slow anticipation to its arrival. The days prior to Sandy hitting shore, the newscasts kept talking about how they expected it to be the "storm of the century" and that we were all doomed. I took this with a grain of salt, as Americans aren't known for their subletly. Of course they were going to hype everything up to be bigger, faster, more!!! This instance, they were correct though. I just personally see the destruction in my immediate area of Flushing, Queens (which wasn't that hard hit), but watching the news paints a very sad, dismal picture of the broader tri-state region.
The wind started to pick up at around 5:00pm local time on Monday. Within an hour - and sustained for several - it was beyond gale force at over 90 MILES per hour in some areas. I was sitting on my hotel room bed, watching live news reports of what was happening outside, and started to become scared that my window was going to burst open. Roughly every 30 seconds or so, a wind so strong would pound down on it and I could feel it come through the walls and actually shake my mattress as I was sitting on it. That was all I needed to spend the evening on the bathroom floor. I didn't get any sleep but it eased my mind somewhat. I kept the television on for company and they started reporting on a massive fire somewhere else in Queens...I could hear sirens faintly taking off in the night in the distance. It was a long night.
I ventured out the next morning to see the aftermath:
This wind-bent sign was directly outside my hotel:
Bottom level of a Target store a few blocks away was flooded: