The day after howling winds ushered in floodwaters, drenching cars and filling basements, many residents faced the first day without working vehicles, hot water or electricity.
Even as other parts of the city returned to business as usual, in Red Hook, one of the hardest-hit areas, residents struggled to start cars that were flooded during the storm, and no one interviewed had power.
Rhondalin Nixon, 56, who works at the nearby Ikea, said she peeked out the window late last night to see waist-high water enveloping vehicles.
“It looked like they opened the levees of Hurricane Katrina on us or something,” said her daughter Tamika Nixon, 34, a store cashier.
She added, “The wind was bad, but it was when the water came, that’s when I got scared. We started packing bags just in case.”
They pointed out a sign, flat on the ground, that used to be across the street behind a fence. Trees could be seen tumbled across Red Hook Park and the Red Hook housing development.
On Lorraine Street, several cars in a row had diagonally edged over onto the sidewalk, apparently moved by the water.
“They told me the water was up to the roof,” said Millie Mendez, 57, as she unsuccessfully tried to start her car.
Anna Mumford, 29, a Red Hook video producer, said the water rose from ground level to six feet in about an hour.
Today, she said, "It smells ... A kind of gasoline smell that just permeated everything."
And as for electricity, it has been off since 7 p.m. last night, although Con Edison trucks were circling.
"Hopefully sometime in the next couple of days, we'll have power again," she said.
Alberto Cancel said he and his wife opted to stay, instead of heeding mandatory evacuation orders, because waters from Irene wrecked their belongings last year.
“If we weren’t here last year, we would have had a lot of stuff damaged,” Alberto Cancel, 34, who works in marketing, told Metro.
But Sandy brought a bigger punch than either had expected.
Last night, added Brooke Cancel, 31, an administrative assistant, “Everyone freaked out.”
“We actually didn’t think it was going to be that bad,” she said, but now, “If they tell you it’s going to be bad, you listen."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned residents that power could take days to restore.
The Nixons said their cell phones, charging from an unplugged computer, were nearly dead.
“We just don’t know when it’s going to be back on,” Rhondalin Nixon said.
One tree had toppled over in Red Hook Park.
Another tree crashed onto the Red Hook Recreation Center.
The mark of the waters' reach was visible in Red Hook.