I was asked in a PM if "things are getting back to normal" – and the poor person was flooded with information. I wanted to post this, but since it is so off topic (Words that is!) I am hiding it here..
the answer is No, and yes. well there is the irish in me coming out... you never get a straight answer !
No, things are not back to usual.. But yes there has evolved a new usual.
NYC is always difficult.. There are great things about the city, but there are always difficulties.. Now there are new difficulties, and some of them are trifling, and some are almost unspeakable.
Take the subway.. 3 subway lines, and path trains have been disrupted.. Stops are closed, and lines that were express, are now local, and service is different. And what is worse, the service changes all the time. So its not like you can just resign your self to local service only.. Some days, there are expresses.. But figuring out when and where and which train is running local, and which is an express, as is the express going to stop where you want it to? fugetaboutit!
The other thing is, for us, the attack is still "present tense". I have mentioned this at least once before..and if you don't live or work here, it might be hard to understand, but the fire is still burning.. And its over 6 weeks. And the anthrax cases? NJ postal workers and NY news reporter are heading the list for numbers of cases.
Another part of the new normal is the traffic. Parts of Broadway are still blocked, and the side streets too, but the side walks in a lot of places are blocked (more on that later) so you can't jaywalk.. Jaywalking to NY's is as natural as breathing! Not that you can breath easy these days.. the streets are washed 2 or 3 times a day.. So there are always puddles about.. But the recovery teams move things, and stir up dust and the heat from the smoldering fires raises the dust in the air, and it blows all over..
Its not just that the streets are closed–traffic is different.. There are these little trucks all over.. Golf cart/ mini tractor/ I don't know what to call the.. The kind of things you see in semi-rural areas.. NY had them for big parks.. But now they are on the street! Weird!
And sometimes, its almost festive.. Its like a giant convention. Wednesday, I stop at the local fire house.. (engine 1, ladder 7, thankfully, no one was lost from my firehouse) and there were fire fighter there from NY, and Phily, Seattle, and looking very lost, Texas forest rangers! There are firefighter from everywhere! And red cross people, and FEMA people, and cops, and so on, and so on.. And as bad I think the subway system is.. They find it fascinating!
other big change with the sidewalks – all over, there are chase ways.. Wooden chase ways, about 18 wide, (not quite 0.5 meters) and 6 or 7 inches high (oh, what 0.2 meters?) They are running electric power into the WTC area.. Since the electric substations were all destroyed. the chase ways are protected, and keep every body on the sidewalk, since they blocked off with what we call jersey barriers but i think are called k bars in other places.. And there are these new cart all over.. Utility work carts, with telephones since telephone service still hasn't been restored to many, many areas. They offer free calls.- and amazingly, no one is abusing the service! (Local and long distance calls for free!)
for the more rural folks, some scales.. The WTC complex, just by its self, is 16 acres.. The no go zone keeps shrinking, but its still about 2 square miles.. (which is bigger than a lot of cites total down town area.. ) It is about the size of chicago's "loop" –
meanwhile, just out side the no go zone.. We are back to work. Back to our usual complaints about the subways, the traffic, the dirt. One of the interesing observations is, that for the most part, at the site, its hard to find a piece of concrete bigger than a "concrete block" – this from 200 floors of poured concrete. Pulverize is an understatement.
The final thing– just might be too much for some.. So its white.. Think about whether or not you want to read.
it still smells. the fires are still burning.. Jet fuel, and paper, carpet and wiring insulations. And bodies. Fewer than 10% (500 of over 5000) have been recovered. The bodies where pulverized; the smell, the fire, the smoke, the dust– all of it, is the is bodies of the victims.