It was around 8:15 p.m. when residents on the Lower East Side saw the sky flash emerald green.
"There were three flashes of light and then we heard one big blast of noise," said Emily Van Scoi of Boston, who was visiting friends from New York University. At 9 p.m., she said, everything went black. All of Lower Manhattan had lost power—and remained without it as of 6 a.m.
"Con Edison left me an automated message earlier and sent me two emails warning that our power might go out," said Joan Silveira, 19, who had walked a block from his apartment toward Avenue D and 2nd Street to see the floodwaters spilling into Alphabet City from the East River.
The streets were black aside from the distant flashing red and blue lights of fire trucks and police cars responding to Hurricane Sandy.
"We haven't seen any looters yet," said Silveira. "But I suspect that's why there are cops everywhere."
Six blocks north, on 8th Street, flooding was inexplicably worse between Avenue C and B, where a slew of police cars were submerged. Residents poked their heads out their windows several stories up and watched water rushing down the street, carrying along bicycles, mattresses, and other debris.
"It's like a funnel," someone remarked, standing thigh-deep in water on the sidewalk.
Lights were on across the street at the Police Precinct Housing Bureau, where water had inundated the parking garage. Officers could be seen taking pictures from three stories up.
"The sewage system is all blocked up with leaves and debris," one officer told The Daily Beast when asked why the flooding was worse in that area. He grimaced as he looked at water bubbling up from below the ground in the center of the street. "I'd take a good shower when I got home if I were you," he said before heading back to the precinct center, which was powered by a backup generator.
The roads were dry several blocks away on 5th Street and Avenue C, where a group with flashlights searched around inside a dark bodega.
"The owner is a friend of ours," said Leann Brown, who came out with her husband, Curtis, and several others. "He can't lock the front door because he doesn't have a gate, so we just wanted to make sure he was okay," added Brown, who owns a nearby restaurant called The Cardinal.
A large piece of metal had come loose from the top of a building and banged against the building's side.
"Run!" someone shrieked from down the street as we all looked up in panic.
Earlier, on Kenmare and Centre streets, a woman narrowly avoided being hit by shards of glass that had fallen from a window.
"I'm definitely worried about our friend making it through the night without anything getting stolen," said Brown, looking up at the scaffolding. "But he may be safer in there than we are out here."