Life Cafe Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Irene’



November 6, 2012

U.S. Presidential Election Day

There have been showers off and on all day today here in “sunny” Spain and the temperature has dropped 10 degrees from the balmy 76 Fahrenheit it was a few days ago. I’m told it does that this time of year. The semi-desert landscape that surrounds us is turning deep green. This is good. The rains, carefully managed in reservoirs and irrigated in this area, cause a bounty of produce to flourish in the mineral-rich campo soil in this, Europe’s garden.

On the campo, in an almond grove

Little did I know, as my husband and I sailed on calm waters away from New York City on August 28th bound, eventually, for Spain, that after a few shorts weeks a ferocious lady called Sandy would pay the City a fearsome call.

I remember how frightening the warnings about Hurricane Irene were only a year ago. I recalled that in the film “An Inconvenient Truth” there was a warning that the Lower East Side would someday be under water, a reminder that the East Village is only a few feet above sea level. After seeing the film, a friend quickly sold her house on 11th Street near Avenue C and moved her entire family safely into a new house in  Midwood on the far northwest end of Manhattan.

I was so alarmed at the potential damage of Irene in 2011 that I moved equipment from the basement of Life Café upstairs to the dining room. Being on the corner of 10th Street and Avenue B, I expected flooding up to the basement ceiling. At home we plastered big ‘X’s” on our south-facing windows with duct tape. Instead, we were spared.

This time, watching on the Internet and TV from Spain, we were awe struck and horrified at what was happening with a strange mixture of fascination and a sense of guilt that we weren’t sharing the worst of times and keeping Life Café open. But it was a relief not to be in the East Village where the sea came up out of the East River and finally overcame the streets and filled the basements of the Lower East Side.

The night Sandy began to batter the mid-Atlantic region, I took a break from watching the awful news unfold on TV and walked outside onto our porch. A blazing full moon glared down as I looked up into the still clear night and realized it was the same moon that was causing the horrific storm surge to rage into the Northeast coast. Mother Nature has no conscience…

We hear another storm is threatening to assault the East coast very soon, a cold one. We hope you will all fare through it safely.

And we hope all America fares safely through the election and the results as well. Take care, our friends. Our thoughts are with you.

Life Cafe East Village Closed for Flood Repairs

Dear Irene, you ruined our basement & now we’re closed till we get things fixed. Thanx a lot! Don’t bother to call round again.
Dear customers, we are very sorry for the inconvenience. We are doing our best to be opened Thursday at 10 am for the holiday weekend! Please stay tuned (just in case). And then please stop by!

Life Cafe East Village Hurricane Heroes for Brunch

by John Sunderland

So any business is only as good as the people that work for it. That really shows up strong in an emergency situation.

This morning, in preparation before Hurricane Irene is expected to smack New York in the face, the owner and my wife, Kathy Life, had two options; (1) take the news that we may be flooded under feet of water seriously, as the East Village café is in the storm surge Zone A, or (2) stay at home and watch things unfold on the Weather Channel and meditate that all would be ok.

The flood threat meant that the basement of the Life Café premises on the corner of 10th Street and Avenue B would have to be emptied to prevent damage to all the raw materials and office stuff that we have down there. If not, a kitchen hand would have to be in scuba gear to go down to the basement to collect potatoes.

I cycled there as early as my bike (and my disbelief that I was doing this) would take me and at around 7:20 a.m. I arrived. The outside door was open and kitchen staff, in their whites, were wide awake and energized, hoisting up stuff from the basement.

I went down there to locate the cafe manager Mark Trzupek and knocked on and opened the office door. Inside I saw the broad back of a Navy Seal (that’s what it said on his tee shirt). The Navy Seals are here! Crikey, I thought we really are going to be underwater! Then the guy turned round; it was Mark.

Over the next couple of hours, people on the sidewalk looked and wondered what the hell was going on. The oriental bodega on the opposite corner traded busily as usual, always in front of the game (this morning they were selling rubber inflatables and waterproof subs).

Meanwhile Mark and his incredible kitchen team manhandled freezers and fridges, ice making machines and tons and tons of products in cans, boxes and sacks up to the surface to store it above the predicted flood. Sweating and straining, those amazing guys hauled to the surface the raw materials of the café up the steep and brutal stairs from the bowels of the building. The race was on to get it done and the task was completed well in time for all the guys to make it home before Mass Transit, the transport system for the New York City, shut down at noon, which was the first time that has happened in New York City’s history.

In the face of adversity; never mind making fantastic Huevos Rancheros and the greatest Eggs Benedict in the universe. This morning underlined to me again that it’s not just food and drink. Far more than that; it is great people that make a special café.