New York City - Sandy Frankenstorm

First, a huge thank you to my friend Thibault Guignes who helped me a lot with the traduction of the whole post. — It’s after more than 20 hours of work, and with a great pleasure, that I’m honored to unveil this post. Every single detail of this crazy and beautiful night I spent with Sandy Frankenstorm is down here. You will see that I took some risks, almost got cut in half, but the reward was definitely worth it! I got amazing memories that I would like to share with you.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this post !


Sunday October 28th, 22:00

I got an email from my mom;
«Sam, call me, please».

Knowing that she is probably worried, I call her back right away.
One hour on the phone … I reassured her about the coming storm, unintentionally giving her my nonchalance. Great exchange! Indeed, in the end she get me worried.
I look on internet to get more info about this coming storm and I finally manage to learn more about it on American websites:
«This Hurricane of Strength 1 could become Strength 2, even 3 when it’s going to hit the coast; we don’t know what could happen whit the mix of Sandy and the 2 other hot and cold streams; Sandy’s effect will start tomorrow morning […] ».

It’s late, I feel very tired from the recent Halloween party, and the words of the journalist are just intensifying the anxiety transmitted earlier by my mother.

Then I think:
«My first job with Wilhelmina is on Wednesday, I am supposed to take off on Tuesday thus it will be cancelled; I’ve got a shooting in Germany next week but the plane tickets have not been bought yet; No power, no subway … therefore no castings».

All these information tell me to leave New York and go back to Montreal for few days.

I go upstairs to see my roommates, Hannah is there;
– «How bad you think it’s going to be? I thought I’d leave the city cause».
– «I didn’t really worry about it, but just before you came I read it’s going to be bad […] ».

My decision is made, I’m leaving the city! But still not ready yet; I have several people to inform about my decision. I first call my agent:

«They are really overdoing it on TV but follow your nose, leave the city».

Then I called my bookers at Wilhelmina, I’m only able to reach one of them:
«you know what, it won’t be that bad where you’re living, but follow your feeling».

Ummm… I’m so confuse now?! I was ready to leave… It’s actually midnight, should I leave or not? I read the last news until 01:00 am. Things don’t seem to be that bad after all; at least, I feel more relaxed, so I decide to stay in New York.

Monday October 29th, 22:30

«The Godfather», we are watching this amazing movie from the 140’s, but I am feeling very tired from having stayed seating all the day in front of my computer… definitely doing too much paperwork these days …
The movie is over; I leave to go to sleep.

I come into my bedroom, it is cold, the wind fills the plastic canvas sheet covering my window and the whole house is quivering under the wind gusts.
All of a sudden, I think:
«Holy shit, my truck!».

I go immediately outside and I see that a huge tree branch has fallen on the street, fortunately not on my truck, but on the other side of the street, just a few centimeters away from another car. I suddenly feel the need to take a picture of this scene. I briefly hesitate before getting the camera because I know that if I start to take pictures, I won’t stop there…


I am holding the gas nozzle, the keys of my truck are inside of it, with Laura, my roommate who wanted to take a walk to have a little chat with Frankenstorm! In the end she got what she wanted.

Let’s go to the Brooklyn Bridge to reach Manhattan! Laura is guiding me while my eyes are looking for the perfect framing. After a few stops, we first arrive to the arch «Soldiers’ and Sailors».

Next stop, mandatory, the corner between Flatbush and Myrtle Avenue. The New York Police Department (NYPD) is blocking the way to Brooklyn Bridge… I am getting out of my truck to feel the intensity of Sandy, which is devastating many facilities of the city. The wind is blowing at an incredible speed!

Squatting down in the middle of Flatbush Avenue, I am calmly taking pictures of the NYPD when I hear a huge noise of broken glass around ten meters behind me! All of a sudden, I turn around and start running in direction of the building, which just lost a huge pane of glass. I wait a few minutes, and then I run back to the middle of the street to take pictures of what just happened and which could have got me cut in pieces.

Just the time for me to take three pictures and another pane of glass falls just next to me, and this time very close to the shelter where I was a minute ago! Hearing this noise of broken glass, part of me is telling to myself:
«Oh…! Maybe this time, it’s a bit too much!».

Totally agreeing with this statement, I take one last picture while being overcautious this time, and I run as fast as possible to my truck.

Direction «Red Hook Container Terminal» Still in Brooklyn. A few pictures … of which the one of this road sign completely pinned down by the wind.

The NYPD and the Fire Department are blocking the way so we leave my truck to go by walking. The torrential rain is still falling and we take shelter in a porch.

Still on our way, around «Red Hook», we finally get to see the first people since the beginning of the night. They are all assembled in a bar who tell us by the decoration that there must be a port nearby. We keep walking in the rain without knowing what to expect…

After a ten minutes walk, we enter a closed Park just bypassing basic guardrails. We walk on a gravel pathway, bordered by long ferns, which must reach at least 15 feets. It’s dark, the noise made by the wind blowing at more than 100 km/h is deafening. We calmly follow the pathway through the darkness, trying not to walk in the puddles.
Suddenly, after a bend of the pathway to our right, The Big Apple is standing in front of us in all its glory! Hundreds of skyscrapers plunged into darkness give us an incredible view. This unusual darkness and calm scene of Manhattan is really contrasting with the strength and the noise of the wind around us. It’s in front of a ghost city that I take this picture of Laura under flash! When I see the picture on my screen I just say:
«Wow, It is Magic!».

We find shelter on a wharf, behind a concrete wall, and wait for about 25 minutes. Laura is enjoying this strange vision of skyscrapers in the dark while I try not shiver too much during the scene’s capture. Since I forgot my tripod in the truck, I have to make several tries, but the results are worth it!

On our way back, we are completely soaked, and we stop at a Firemen Station in New York. The firemen are even kind enough to allow me to take few a pictures!

To be finished with the crazy night, I wanted to visit the New York City rats! I seeped in a subway station hoping to find some water and little swimming rats… but unfortunately, there was not even water… At least I had the rare and unique pleasure to see an empty subway station in New York !!!

And to conclude, a tree on a car! Poor owner; he did well to fold its outside rearview mirror !!

Tueday 03:00 am

Back home!

So that was the story of my meeting with Miss Sandy Frankenstorm, and she almost got me!!

Happy Halloween and be careful, cause Sandy is still around here !

Again, a huge thank you to Thibault Guignes who helped me a lot with the traduction of the whole post!

See you soon!