October 30th, 2012 / posted by paularath

Photos of Jackson Heights, Queens, NYC, courtesy of Mariwan Hama-Saeed.

Well, we were supposed to be in New York City right now, staying with my niece and her husband and sailing on a cruise through the Panama Canal tomorrow (Wednesday). Not happening, obviously. Since Sunday we have been packed and poised to head out to the airport at a moment’s notice, but we just learned we will have to miss NYC altogether and meet the cruise ship in Charleston. Compared to everything else that’s happening on the East Coast, this sounds manini, yet I can’t help feeling a bit bereft because our “vacation of a lifetime” is starting out with a good deal of stress.

Anyway, I’ve heard Charleston is a lovely city.

In the meantime, my niece, Tiare Rath, and her husband, Mariwan Hama-Saeed, are sitting tight in their apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. They are among the lucky ones. There was no damage to their apartment and they didn’t even lose power. They were probably among the most prepared people in all of NYC. They met in Iraq, where they experienced power outages on a daily basis. Tiare says they have all the equipment needed to survive prolonged power outages. In fact, they are equipped to house “refugees” from more affected parts of the city. They’ve invited friends from Lower Manhattan to stay with them. Apparently there’s no power – or water – in Lower Manhattan and their friends have a toddler. Yikes!

Tiare and Mariwan’s neighborhood was among one of the least affected areas in the city, yet there was still a great deal of damage, mainly from fallen trees. Here are some photos Mariwan took on a walk through their neighborhood this morning.

Tiare and Mariwan just bought a car last month, but fortunately their car was not damaged.

They are even able to keep working from home on their laptops. Tiare is a freelance editor and journalist and Mariwan works for Human Rights Watch. He achieved U.S. citizenship in August, which is huge! He is an amazing young man. He is Kurdish and his town was gassed by Saddam Hussein in the ’80s. He learned English from a dictionary.  We think he’s brilliant, as well as being kind and caring and a true gentleman. We’re so fortunate to have Mariwan in our family.

We are trying to book a B&B in Charleston for Thursday night. I hope to blog from Charleston, then from the cruise ship and ports such as Key West, Cayman Island, Cartagena, Panama City and Huatulco. And of course I’ll have to report on that wonder of the world, the Panama Canal.

– Paula Rath



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