New York's Hurricane Irene Heroes and Zeros

The individuals we'll remember, for better or worse, from the storm that didn't drown New York

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An event as unusual as a hurricane bearing down on New York City was, of course, a huge news story, even if it didn't cause the widespread chaos it could have. But within that major event, tons of individuals made their own little impacts, for better or worse, on Gotham. It's those stories that we'll be telling in future years, not rehashing the possibly faulty weather reports. As the pavement dries and the subways get back on schedule, we present our roundup of the individual heroes, and zeros, who we will remember from New York in Hurricane Irene.

Heroes: The pizzerias and delis that stayed open through the storm. As The Wall Street Journal reports, a small but dedicated contingent of neighborhood shops and take-out joints not only opened Sunday, some stayed open all night Saturday, defying predictions of flooding and flying debris to supply the city with a baseline amount of sandwiches, groceries, and pizzas.

Zero: The Brooklyn Hotel that reportedly charged $999 Saturday night. [Update: Hotel le Bleu denies it intentionally hiked its rate for the storm, and says the $999 figure was due to a technical quirk on Expedia. A comment below identifies itself as the hotel's official response. We've changed the text of this entry to reflect the fact the hotel is contesting the story] On Monday, the New York Daily News reported the normally $250 Hotel le Bleu (which is already far too chic for the stretch of Fourth Avenue on which it sits in Brooklyn) jacked its rate up to $999 on Saturday night, just to squeeze a few more bucks out of hurricane evacuees. The news got picked up all over Twitter and blogs, so the hotel, which is contesting the accuracy of the story, is going to have a tough time clearing its name.

Hero: Twitter user @ElBloombito. After Mayor Michael Bloomberg struggled his way through a Spanish-language announcement at a press conference on Saturday (a not infrequent occurrence, the Observer reports), a 25-year-old half-Jewish, half-Puerto Rican woman from Brooklyn started entertaining her Twitter followers, who soon swelled to the thousands, with quips like this: "Los trainos y el bussos son muy operationo. Go to worko. No excuso!"

Zeros: The would-be Staten Island looters. A pair of "washed up" con artists (as the New York Post described them) reportedly dressed up as city corrections officers and canvassed Staten Island residents about their evacuation plan, allegedly in an attempt to figure out who would be home later so they could identify burglary targets.

Heroes: The people who got funny with their window tape. The Village Voice's Fork in the Road blog had an inspired post on the funny ways people were taping up their windows pre-storm. We especially like the tic tac toe game in which, "as with Irene, nobody wins."

Zero: Whoever left this 10-foot python in their apartment. City workers found the snake in the sink of an empty Browsville apartment when they went in to investigate a leak coming into the unit below. They took it to an emergency shelter, and though it's illegal to own pythons in the city, Gothamist reports police haven't decided whether to charge the owner yet.

Heroes: The West Villagers who got together to take down and secure thousands of 9/11 memorial tiles. It was, according to Gothamist, the first time the tiles had been removed from their Greenwich Village fence since they started going up after the terrorist attacks.

Zeros: Whoever's disappointed there wasn't more damage. Okay, in retrospect it was probably a big overreaction to shut down the transit system and evacuate the neighborhoods. But officials didn't know how bad things were going to get, and if they had played down the danger and then another Katrina happened, we suspect that would have been a bigger "buzz kill" (as one resident called the weak storm) than the fact some folks missed a night of bar hopping.

Heroes: Weather-beaten reporters up and down the East Coast. They were fun to watch, and made us grateful for our couches and roofs, especially when watching this reporter get what appears to be a face-full of sewage down in Maryland.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.