And so it begins as threatened: Blogtober, the exercise in spew being offered this writer who for various reasons eschews NaNoWriMo.
When advertised originally, there was promise of tales to be told, not always serious ones but by no means excluding those. And this being All Saints Day, also known as “the day to recover from Halloween,” it seems appropriate that the month start with a scary tale, where we read about characters being threatened by malevolent forces.
So let me tell you about my encounter with Hurricane Sandy…
I am calling this tale “an encounter” and not billing it as anything greater than that. Compared with the thousands of others who had the tragedy of losing a loved one, who lost their homes, or are still without power as I write this, I got off damned lucky. While I don’t need any help, if you can send something to the American Red Cross when you have a sec, that would be greatly appreciated.
As for me and my loved ones, we prepared for the worst in the days before landfall; batteries in the radio, preset to the all-news AM station; water in the bath tub as a cistern should the electricity fail; flashlights all together in one set spot right next to the radio. The one thing we didn’t get was a “go bag,” partly because of our faith in where we were to avoid the worst of it (upslope away from the water), partly because if it got really bad there really was nowhere else to go.
As it so happened, it started to get really bad by midday, Monday the 29th, which played out the way we thought it would. Winds were starting to pick up at that point, gusts gaining in strength with every hour. The subways were closed down early to better weather the storm, and by then the bridges and tunnels were also being shut to keep people out of danger. The last time Manhattan was this cut off, the British were trying to trap Washington in Brooklyn and end the Revolutionary War early; and like a lot of folks who got out and about to take these pics, Washington found a way across the East River despite all that…
So Susan, James, and I, were holed up in the apartment, trying to stay steady as the wind got steadier. While we had connectivity, we stayed in touch with loved ones and friends through phone and social networks. The one bit of poor planning on my part was not bringing in enough potables; I ran low earlier than I would have liked, which I reasoned away with the thought that, when the stuff gets real, the last thing I needed to be was badly incapacitated. I hadn’t heard since then of someone who “self-medicated” themself into a bad spot during Sandy’s visit, but thankfully it wasn’t me that Gawker wrote a snarky story about…
Then again, Gawker’s been with limited resources since their power died, so I might have been able to outrun the bad press…
Thankfully, we were blessed by geography and decent engineering. As the worst of it hit, after sunset on Monday, we huddled away from the windows, rattling as the storm pic-
A flicker, the lights go out, very briefly. The power loss is so fleeting the TV barely registers the burp, the wall-to-wall coverage of calamity continuing through the bit of darkne-
Another flicker, another recovery. A quick shut-down of anything turned on that could fry in a surge, with a quick calculus of what’s about to be lost with the power: The laptop would have a few hours of juice in it, but the wireless router would be DOA. Suddenly a part of the disaster plan that should have been considered a LOT earlier on becomes apparent way too late fo-
Flicker. Back. Flicker. Flicker…
The crash outside as the wind picks up unsecured construction scaffolding sounds a lot closer than it actually is, far too close than it should be.
The lights held, though the building started to sway as thought it would not. The hanging fixture rarely swung in gale force winds before; this was definitely beyond a gale now as the fixture was propelled like Poe’s pendulum from one side of the room to the other.
The ticking of the light fixture as it threatened to go dark was Sandy making a personal threat against us. That was the most she would bother with us, though. We in our apartment were beneath her contempt as she flooded out the tunnels into Manhattan, we were an afterthought as she burned down Breezy Point and washed away Seaside Heights.
Or maybe she did as I had, and didn’t bring enough drinks to the party either. We had less than two inches of rain in total where we were when she came through; had there been more water, say a good foot or so with an inch falling every hour, we could have had it a lot worse than we did, especially if rain blew through the window jams.
By three in the morning, with none of us sleeping all that well but awake in shifts so as not to take out our grouchiness on each other (something that just worked out that way as opposed to any good planning), I was awake and watching the news, with two thoughts as I watched reports on the weather and the devastation:
a) We seemed to have made it through the worst of it, in one piece physically and otherwise all right mentally
b) With all those hundreds of thousands of people without power, who in hell is watching this newscast other than me?
Come the morn, and things moved out of crisis; batteries were out of the radio and back in the fridge, bath tub emptied in order to take a shower. We checked on our neighbors, got some Groceries for those folks that needed it, and Susan gave a few hours to the displaced person’s shelter around the block.
It’s not quite what we accept as normal (if anything can be accepted as normal for us). The subways are supposed to be back this morning, but considering the buses coming back yesterday were a disaster, who can say how that’ll work out. Large numbers of people are without power south of 39th Street and elsewhere on the East Coast. School’s still closed, so James has a lot of boring free time to use to drive us crazy with. Still, as I said, we had our encounter, and can at least share it now.
There wasn’t a lot of trick-or-treating around us last night. To me, it felt a lot more like Thanksgiving, anyway…