NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One year ago as superstorm Sandy roared ashore, NYU Langone Medical Center in Gramercy was among the facilities left crippled.
But for some expectant mothers, their babies were coming regardless of the conditions.
On Tuesday, NYU Langone Medical Center held a birthday party for 39 babies that were either born or being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit the night Sandy struck New York City.
“It was definitely a little scary, but thank God that everything’s OK,” Dawn Charmatz, who gave birth to a girl, Juliana, that night, told CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez. “She did great.”
When Sandy unleashed its fury, labor and delivery nurse Flavia Contratti was caring for 11 women in labor.
“You’re never really prepared. I’m here three decades, never really prepare for that,” she told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
By about 8 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2012, NYU Langone had lost power and then their back-up generators went out after being flooded, forcing the evacuation of 20 babies from the NICU.
But when moms are in labor, there’s no stopping Mother Nature. So 19 women delivered their babies with only glow sticks and flashlights illuminating the room.
“Well, it was my first, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to, but I hear that most people don’t deliver by the light of glow sticks and flashlights,” Tamar Weinstock said.
Weinstock’s mother-in-law, Eileen, recorded video of the new mom being carried down eight flights of stairs after giving birth to a boy, Stone.
“The frightening part was you have your baby, and all you want to do is hold him and protect him,” Tamar Weinstock said.
Debra Dadlani, who gave birth to her son Kiran, had a similar tale.
“They put me on a medical sled, and I went sledding down the hallway,” she said. “And then they carried me down eight flights of stairs.”
“When you’re faced with adversity and, in our case, a catastrophic event, it shows your character and your core,” said Dr. Robert Grossman, CEO of NYU Langone. “And at the end of the day, we emerged far stronger as an institution and a medical center.”
NYU and Bellevue Hospital, which both sit on the east side of First Avenue near the East River, were inundated with water. The most vulnerable patients, including babies from the neonatal intensive care unit, were evacuated during the height of the storm.
In the dark and without elevators, nurses helped carry patients from as high as the 17th floor in NYU out of the building to waiting ambulances.
At NYU, repairs to the emergency room are ongoing and are set to be completed next spring. Bellevue is in the process of constructing a permanent flood wall.
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