Archive for August 2011

C’mon Irene.

August 31, 2011

A hurricane? Seriously.
Surely they will cancel or downgrade it, as they always do…

I knew about the upcoming hurricane, Irene,  as I drove upstate to 140 conference Hudson Valley on a Monday, earlier in the week.

Right in the middle of the conference, an 5.8 earthquake rolled through, causing a ripple in the floor and quite literally making me feel nauseous. But I recovered. No Puke at 140.

I shakily stood up, looked around at the people around me and said. Wow this is an earthquake. And left the building. Fast.

The week before I had just had a flood in the basement in my south shore Long Island home due to a crazy 10 inches of rain deluge. Insurance claim. Juuust redid the floor Wednesday before the hurricane.

So… when I heard *hurricane*… I sort of thought… *bad things happen in threes* and took it seriously .

I got back from my conference on Wednesday, threw 3 computers and some non-perishables in the car, packed up and left again with a carload of protesting kids (we don’t want to leave our friends and the internet) on Thursday, more than 24 hours before a mandatory evacuation of 300,000 people was ordered from the south shore of Long Island. The husband promised he’d join us Friday.

As my home is directly across the street from the Atlantic, to me this was a no brainer. I could SEE the horror movie tidal wave hitting my house very easily.

What followed was surprising.

I invited family and friends to join me in my upstate home, 3 hours north of the south shore. Safe. Far away from chaos.

and… NOBODY took me up on my offer. Nobody. Many chose not to evacuate at all.

They cited work.

Work wanted them to stay.

How would they get to work.

Being self-employed for 20 years maybe I just do not get it. Don’t you have to be ALIVE to work? I hoped they would change their minds.

I could not ever be the type of employer who would not tell their employees to get the hell out and be safe. Kind of hard to go to work if you’re dead, isn’t it?
Ya think? Hmm. I’m repeating myself. Anyway….

As I saw all of the reports coming in on the local networks and weather channel, I grew even more worried. How many of my friends would be killed due to abject stupidity? This thing was coming right at us.

I told several of my twitter friends where I would be because my house is in a notch upstate with no cell service or for me, internet, and I go up here to disconnect so the only internet is 10 minutes away at an undisclosed location. Ok.. It’s where I get my bagels in Hunter. But I don’t always eat bagels. So I don’t always go online. Now you know.

I was amazed at the concern I was hearing in my twitter DMS and my texts on my phone went crazy as I came into cell service range. Where are you?!  Did you leave? Please tell me you left. Run, Sueanne, RUNNN!!!

I made two trips to the grocery store because it was still unclear which of my family and friends would be joining me, if at all, and I was preparing for several days without electricity or water. Nobody at the store looked worried. They all have generators. I heard someone say *Oh, it’ll just be a little rain, so what?*

And we settled in to wait. I realized I left early but I’m not a big fan of traffic, and sure enough, when the Husband arrived Friday evening he assured me there was a mass exodus going on and the 3 hour drive took him almost 6. He told me the family wouldn’t be coming and we hoped they would use common sense and at least get to high ground. I made a ton of jewelry. It helped me take my mind off worrying a little bit. Not much.

We watched the news coverage and saw that the eye of the storm was probably going to hit our home, and mentally prepared ourselves to lose everything. I was sorry I hadn’t put more in the car, like passports and birth certificates. I kept thinking my kids wouldn’t be able to go to their new schools because I had no I.D. for them. Weird stuff like that. That’s what goes through your head.

We finally lost power at about 9:30 A.M. as we saw the footage of waves crashing into our town and the reporters being pummeled by wind 2 hours before the brunt of it was actually even supposed to hit. It was a sad moment as I realized that there would be loss of property and potentially life in the town that I love, and I would have no way to know what had happened. Our phone lines also went dead. We were now totally cut off.

We went about our business and didn’t let the kids see that we were worried.  It was raining buckets in our upstate location but we didn’t feel like we were in any danger, except maybe a tree falling on our house. We watched the wind whip through the trees and ate. The kerosene cooktop still worked if you lit a match.

It seemed like it would never stop raining. All day it rained. We realized we were now going to have to deal with another problem. Flooding of the towns surrounding us. The elevation of my little burb isn’t usually a problem. Then the basement started flooding… about 6 inches. The sump pump didn’t work because there was no power. Nothing was ruined. The boiler is elevated. As a bonus we had a ton of water with which to flush the toilet with. YAY!!! Life was sweet.

We set out for a walk the next morning, which was a beautiful day, to inspect the damage and saw that several small bridges on our street that connected the road to homes were totally washed out. We were assured that nobody was trapped.

Then we got in the car and took a ride down rte. 214. That’s the video at the beginning at the blog. There was no cell service or electricity in Hunter either. Or Phoenicia. We heard the village of Windham was totally washed out when a dam broke. Sad stuff.

As the day went on we heard reports from all over New York on the AM radio. That was the only connection to the rest of the world other than talking to everybody we ran into in the neighborhood. What a mess. New Jersey seemed to be hit hardest and it seemed almost every road we take to go between upstate and downstate NY was closed. We had no idea what had happened to our home and if it was even standing. We were going to be stuck for a while. And we had no way to communicate. No phones were working. And of course, my hair would potentially look like crap for days on end.

Later that day, we finally found very kind merchants who were letting people use their phones to call their families and let them know you were ok. Thank you Ruth Gale Realty and The lady at the Pharmacy. You are very kind and generous people. We were so sad to see our favorite restaurant, Brios, was severely damaged in Phoenicia.

Finally, on Tuesday, two days after the hurricane, we packed up the car and took the long way out of town, about 45 minutes out of our way, because that was the only way out due to washed out roads and bridges.

As I drove into our South shore town, I was relieved to see almost no damage. Wow. Amazing. I still have not driven into the surrounding towns but I’m hearing some homes got flooded. I have not heard of any deaths here, and I’m so glad everyone is safe as I know there has been loss of life in this storm and river flooding and power outages continue to be a huge, huge problem.

I’m very thankful to the media and local governments for doing a fantastic job in warning people about this disaster and hope the relief efforts are as successful.

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