Hai Nguyen on The Day After Irene
This image was shot the day after Hurricane Irene swept through the New York area. I had stayed up all night glued to my television and window to experience the full extent of this hurricane, since it was my first one. Luckily, though it didn’t amount to much, seeing images of Coney Island on the news with the water levels almost up to the boardwalk was pretty unbelievable. I lived close by so when the morning came, I rode my bike over there to survey the damage, and to my eyes it didn’t look like much happened. It was really windy and the sand was blowing in these glorious patterns. The guy in black jumped into my shot with the waste basket half buried in the sand and I continued taking photos of him after he walked off and that’s how I got this shot. Shortly after, the weather got worse and the cops came down to the beach and told everyone to leave.
This photo was part of a photo journal series I was doing on Instagram to document the night before, the day of, and the day after Irene. I made this image specifically to show what Coney Island was like on that day. I wanted to show what it felt like to be there at Coney Island the day after the hurricane. There weren’t many spectators there. Just a handful of us but I wanted to convey a feeling of the eerie peacefulness after the storm and show people going about their day. I just like the simplicity of this image.
Coney Island is a quintessential NYC destination. When I saw it on the news, it seemed like it was getting a beating, and I was just heart broken. Like most people, I have special attachments to places I love and to see them destroyed is just awful. Luckily nothing happened beyond the water level rising.
Ultimately, I make images to express what I’m not able to express through words. This image of Coney Island says more than I possibly could with language.
You can read more from the STORYLINES series here