Photographer and filmmaker Haik Kocharian was down in the Financial District last year during the Hurricane Sandy surge, wandering the deserted streets as the dark waters rapidly devoured much of the neighborhood. His eerie photographs of the area's unprecedented flooding evoke the nightmarish, surreal atmosphere that pervaded many parts of the city during the hurricane and its aftermath. The work is currently on view for the first time as part of a large group exhibition on Governors Island that continues through September 29th. Below, Kocharian reflects on hurricane's shocking power:

New York, the city I adore and have called home for the past 25 years, has always seemed invincible to me, with its might and breathtaking grandiosity. But when Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the East Coast, that perception changed. The towering skyscrapers of the Financial District where I live were no longer untouchable. On the night of the hurricane, humbled by the fury and power of the storm, I watched Wall Street, the financial capital of the world, turn into a raging ocean and the bustling Financial District plunge into chaos and devastation.

I spent most of the night photographing the effects of the storm. Familiar streets like Old Slip, Broad and Water were lost under a torrent of rushing water, cars and other debris floating around, broken power lines and tree branches littered the sidewalks, shattered store windows and scattered merchandise everywhere. New York was hurting and I was hurting with it, the way you would share a pain of someone close and dear to your heart.

By the morning hours I made my way home. In the lobby of our building the residents set up a small breakfast station with coffee, donuts, and sandwiches. As I greeted my neighbors, New Yorkers like myself, I suddenly felt a strong sense of camaraderie and resolve in their eyes. At that moment, gathered around a single lamp hooked up to a generator, we knew we would get through it together.  "Grab a cup of coffee," I heard one of my neighbors say, "There are sandwiches there too."  I poured myself a cup and took a sip, "The storm may have hit the city hard" I thought, "but it didn't defeat us." The coffee tasted so good that morning.

Rising Waters: Photographs of Hurricane Sandy continues on Governors Island, Building 19, Nolan Park on weekends through September 29th. The exhibition will also showcase video from Gideon Mendel's Drowning World series on flood zones around the globe.

Kocharian's new film Please Be Normal, starring Sam Waterston, Louis Cancelmi, Elisabeth Waterston and Dana Eskelson, will be released in early 2014.