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Hurricane Irene: More curiosity than damage on New York's East Side

August 28, 2011 |  9:00 am


A sense of calm pervaded the downtown area near New York's East River on Sunday morning, as residents emerged from their homes to inspect the damage caused by Hurricane Irene more with curiosity than with anxiety.

Some downed trees could be seen along the streets in Manhattan's East Village and Lower East Side neighborhoods, including one that had ripped off a store awning. And scattere flood waters caused problems for the occasional vehicle as well as a wading opportunity for some residents (including the group above, on a street just south of the Manhattan Bridge in the southeast corner of the city).

But for the most part the neighborhood, which had been designated in the high-risk zone by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was spared disaster.

PHOTOS: In the path of Irene

At Stuyvesant Cove, a pedestrian-friendly inlet flush against the banks of the river, the water level was higher than usual but in little danger of spilling over the concrete embankment. Some large puddles on the path were apparently caused by rain and caused only minor inconveniences.

A wave of dog walkers, runners and photo-snappers passed through the area as a low-grade rain fell, collectively exhaling as they realized the worst had bypassed them. At one point a police car drove up, in an apparent attempt to head off any mischief, but the officers looked bored as they sat in their patrol car.

A few blocks inland, a neighborhood normally bustling on a Sunday morning began to come to life, with seemingly one in every three pedestrians snapping photos of the branches lining the street (and ignoring city officials' plea to stay inside until later in the day).

For a city that had been primed for the worst -- and that had also been through a major earthquake just several days earlier -- the mood was one of relief but also, in its way, disappointment, as New Yorkers looked hungrily for evidence that they, too, had been part of the great storm of 2011.

At one intersection, a young boy walking with his father pointed excitedly to some downed foliage across the street. "What's that?" he said expectantly.

"Oh, just a few branches," said the father, and led the boy in a different direction.


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-- Steven Zeitchik in New York
On Twitter @ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Emily Santiago, right, leads Sasha Williams and Burton Chirinos through flood waters on South Street in Lower Manhattan. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times