Wednesday, August 31, 2011
When I was young we had hurricanes almost as a matter of course every autumn. There are so many that I remember either living through or hearing about that they have become confused in my mind somewhat, but I know they were all storms that struck the East End and made an impact here: Carol, Donna, Belle, Gloria - there are many that come to mind. Like all major events in our lives they become touchstones, full of memories and anecdotes, as in "Remember when we were driving home from upstate and Hurricane Bob hit Long Island the same time as we crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge?" or "We lost that apple tree during Gloria" - each name brings back the memories.
Hurricane Irene will do the same but more for what she did in other places than how we were affected here. We were among the lucky ones and the track left us with far less damage than in areas west of us. Nevertheless, there will be memories attached to this storm, just as there have been with each of the others.
We were well prepared at our house. I always have plenty of candles and flashlights and I'm not one who runs out and stocks up on food before a storm. First of all, with the possibility of losing the electricity I don't want things in my 'fridge and freezer. Second we probably have enough canned and boxed goods to last a month if we needed them! So there was no need to go shopping. My preparation consisted of dealing with municipal preparations, attending meetings, talking to department heads, and making sure everyone was doing their jobs, which they were. I am blessed to work in a village with a great staff and things run pretty smoothly even in the worst circumstances.
Our major decision involved where to spend the night last Saturday. Early prediction's were that Irene would strike during the night and up to 10 inches of rain were expected. Being in a low-lying area and having water in our basement more than once in this house meant that was a frightening prospect. I wanted to spend time at the Emergency Operations Center to keep my eye on things and be a presence with the staff, and also worried about water. So we considered spending the night there. This is not great prospect since it means sleeping (or not) on army cots in big rooms with lots of other people sleeping on cots. Earlier in my life I might have found that idea exciting but at my age, not so much. But we didn't want to try to make the trip at the height of the storm either.
Fortunately the track and speed changed and the storm was finally expected to reach Long Island on Sunday morning so we made the decision to get a good night sleep at home and then get up early to make the short drive over to the EOC. As it turned out we made the best decision and were up at 5am to make the move. We were there throughout the day Sunday, watching as the storm moved west of us and then north and away. We were lucky this time - little rain fell and wind damage was not as bad as expected. A few days of clean-up and we are almost back to our pre-storm status now. With the exception of some beach erosion, we fared pretty well.
And Hurricane Irene will always bring back memories of a week before Labor Day when a few short days reminded us that we aren't as much in control as we think we are. It's God's way of humbling us, I think!