It's something most New Yorkers are used to seeing in other parts of the world, but this afternoon the National Guard came to our city's aid in a disaster, handing out MREs and bottles of water to desperate residents of the powerless zones. Long lines started forming as long as four hours before the food arrived, and in some places it seemed doubtful that the National Guard would have enough to go around.

At Grand Street and Clinton, the line was two blocks long before the National Guard trucks even arrived. Neighborhood resident James Rivera told us, "I've been here 3 hours, they say the truck is lost in Brooklyn." Another elderly woman who said she'd been on line for four hours told us, "We're cranky, cold, hungry, frustrated, now the trucks are lost? It's crazy! They're just waiting to see how hungry we get! We feel humiliated!" And a Salvation Army volunteer added, "Trucks are en route: that's government for you!"

Evelyn Perez, another neighborhood resident, asks, "Where the hell is the electricity: we're in big city. I can see 24 hours [without power] but enough is enough." The trucks finally arrived, but the National Guard was instructed to distribute one MRE and two small bottles of water per person—and judging by the number of people on line, it was unclear if they had enough to go around.

In Red Hook's Coffey Park, a family at the front of the line started waiting on line at 12:30 p.m.—they'd been without power, heat, or hot water for days. The trucks, eight in all, didn't arrive until 4:30 p.m., but when they finally pulled up it seemed that they brought enough to go around, at least for the estimated 200 people waiting. The lieutenant in charge of the food distribution told us they would be giving out twice the amount of bottled water and MREs than planned (2 and 3 per person was upped to 4 and 6, per person).

At Pitt Street and Houston in Manhattan, the line at the distribution point was two blocks long at 5:15 p.m., with no supplies in sight. "They said the trucks were on 10th street," one Salvation Army guy told us. One person waiting on line, Neil Hagstrom, said, "I got to shake hands with Scott stringer—that's worth 4 hours! He said the truck was on the way." One officer monitoring the scene was less optimistic: "It's gonna be another hour."

Reporting by Jake Dobkin and Anne Saunders.