After Sandy: Miracle on 26th Street



West Chelsea Veterinary, on West 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, was lucky enough not to lose power during Hurricane Sandy. Other clinics weren’t so fortunate. Photo: Annie Zak.

In the midst of the Hurricane Sandy black-out downtown, one Chelsea address got lucky: West Chelsea Veterinary, located on West 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, had electricity in the middle of an otherwise dark neighborhood. While it had to close for two days because staff members couldn’t get to work, the hospital quickly reopened, and was able to help patients who otherwise would have been out of luck.

Even on the two days when the facility was closed, staff members who could came by to feed and treat any animals that needed immediate attention.

Once West Chelsea re-opened, it inherited patients from all over the neighborhood. “We had people who needed prescriptions or special food who couldn’t get them because their vets were closed,” said hospital manager Liz Luboja.

“A lot of people” also showed up to board their pets, according to Luboja, because they worried that the animals would be miserable at home. “I think New Yorkers are so amazing because they love their pets so much, they’ll protect them like they would their children.”

She said that West Chelsea Veterinary took in about eight animals whose owners didn’t feel comfortable keeping them at home until their lives were back to normal. By now, Luboja said, “they have all gone home safely to houses with power.”

“Losing stock of vaccines is big—tons of things are refrigerated,” she said.  “You can’t run x-ray, you can’t run surgery, you can’t run in-house blood machines [without power] … We were one of the more fortunate hospitals.”