ANGELA THOMPSON in Midtown, Manhattan, New York 12.30am Wednesday
Go north, says the man with the steaming cup of coffee, for there are hot beverages, Wi-Fi, and many, many power points.
We spot the man and his conspicuous takeaway cup this morning in the blacked-out part of Manhattan, 21 blocks from where he said there was still electricity to power the percolators.
Hurricane Sandy divided the island overnight, wiping out power to thousands of businesses and apartments, including ours.
By night, in these dark Midtown streets, traffic police with torches control the intersections, while a few little bars and the local 7-11 continue to trade by candlelight.
Earlier, we woke without alarms and without news about Sandy, screaming last night but obviously passed by morning.
Encouraged by the coffee cup oracle, we head north, craning to see the first functioning traffic light. There is debris, downed tree branches, and an entire tree crunched down on a car.
The crowd thickens as we near 39th Street and there the power returns. Clusters of people form outside the closed Starbucks, feeding off the invisible Wi-Fi.
Everyone wants to recharge, a phone or computer, and powerpoints are in hot demand.
While Starbucks hasn't opened, many of the small businesses have. In a corner store a man has found a powerpoint behind the ice cream freezer. The owners don't seem to mind him there, waiting for his phone to charge.
Others recharge in a cafe, at tables, or at the counter where they keep the milk, serviettes and spoons.
They wait with their cold rears hovering over the open-faced drinks fridge, their wobbly international adaptors leading to sleek iPhones.
Elbow to elbow, circumstances are ripe for eavesdropping and offloading. Students from a blacked-out university campus are confident no-one will expect them to finish that assignment, due tomorrow, but they are looking forward to returning to dorms 13 storeys up without an elevator.
Downstairs in the cafe some clever soul has brought a powerboard with five sockets. He sinks it into a socket at head height and his friends share the spoils, cords raining down like a happy fire hazard.
We get our news updates in a noisy Irish pub - repeated in rolling text across the bottom of the TV screen. There is useful information: the tap water is safe to drink, power outages on Manhattan will likely last four days, occupied taxis are now allowed to pick up a second fare.
We are anxious about the things not yet written - will our travel insurance cover our losses? Will the airport be functioning in time for our flight, rescheduled in the lead-up to the hurricane? Will our airline, so fond of overselling the flights, make good on their promise to put us on the plane, if it does leave?
Some of the main street shops are open. The subway remains closed, as do the Broadway shows, the museums. There is little else to do but shop and I spend more than I should, as do throngs of others.
The staff are run off their feet, the stores grow hot and crowded and unpleasant. I walk home in the crisp night, warmed by a new jumper. With 11 blocks still to go, a row of blackout victims shows where the power dies. They have lined up with phones and computers alongside a closed cafe, drawn in by its outdoor power points.
The group includes a man with a big white poodle, freed for a few hours from his apartment. Passersby pat the dog's soft curly coat, ask after his owner's circumstances, share information with the others in the row.
Not so divided after all.