In order to make sure he gets to his job as a doorman in Manhattan, Randy Guardiola has been biking to work from his home in Fresh Meadows, Queens, for the last couple of days. He drove to work the first few days after Hurricane Sandy hit but when his car ran out of gas, he decided to use his bike and the subway to get to his job across the river in Manhattan.
Despite his tiring commute, Randy has been working longer shifts as a doorman at a high-rise building in Greenwich Village after the 34-floor tower lost power on Monday night when Hurricane Sandy swept through.
"Coming to work was really strange," he said. "You're seeing light and then all of a sudden no light. It was really eerie."
Randy said he never considered not coming to work, even as he faced nights of passing through eerie darkened streets in Manhattan after he ended his long shifts at midnight. He felt a responsibility and a connection to the residents who rely on him.
"There's a family feeling in this building," he said on Saturday as residents were returning to their apartments after power returned to the neighborhood. "Almost everyone asks how I'm doing. The kids are coming back and they are happy to see me and know that everything is ok. We make them feel safer."
Guardiola said that as the blackout in downtown Manhattan persisted, only about 10 to 15 people stayed in the building, which has 300 apartments. About half the building staff stayed too, providing aid and comfort to residents even as they worried about their own families. Along with protecting building security, they walked up and down 34 flights, checking the roof and checking on residents. They carried water and flashlights up and helped usher some of the frailer occupants down pitch-black stairwells and out of the building.
The building staff also provided a port in the storm for stranded residents looking for someone to talk to as they hunkered down in the building trying to ride out the power loss.
"We were here all night passing the time," Guardiola said. "We tried to be calming. We just talked to everybody."