While we have all assumed Sandy was a woman, I would point out the “Sandy” can also be a man’s name. In either case, this will not be a popular name for a baby for quite some time.
As proof that I truly did not understand the storm to come, I had the excited, fevered thought that perhaps we would have a “snow day!” I don’t think I was alone in completely not understanding what Hurricane Sandy would do. Or that I would end up with five snow days.
We were driving back from Maryland. We had driven down on Saturday to visit Alex. Back east for special training, we had thought the five weeks he would spend just hours south of us would provide multiple opportunities for visits. Halfway to Maryland, he called to say his team would be working both days, all day, during the weekend. The storm threatened their training schedule and they needed to make up the time they might miss from a packed and expensive training session. We were already committed and continued driving despite our disappointment in the greatly reduced hours for basking in his presence.
We had a lovely evening; a good dinner and Alex said good night. He had a big test Sunday morning and needed to get in some study time. Sunday morning when we went for coffee, the wind was already picking up. Seeing Alex again would mean waiting until after 4 p.m. and driving home in the rain and beginning of the storm. We decided that it was time to head home and batten down the hatches—an all too apt phrase given the enormous storm surges and winds about to hit the East Coast.
What I am so thankful for. Of course, I am so thankful that our house is unscathed. Having lived through the catastrophe of downed trees crashing into the house spearing Peter’s wall with a powerful thrust and totaling the car, littering the yard like giant match sticks with fences and bushes crushed underneath, I see the other homes with damage and feel tremendous sympathy. I am thankful for hot and cold running water. What a huge difference it makes to have water for washing and cooking and drinking. I am thankful that our gas stove and oven work. What a luxury to have hot food. We have nothing to complain about. I am so glad that it isn’t the dead of winter and the chill in the house is not threatening pipes even though, as time goes by, the chill is less easily defeated with a warm sweater or fleece. Actually, as you can see in the photos, I am wrapped like a giant grape in a fleece bag which Jim gave me years ago. It was always too warm before, but it feels fantastic now.
Silence. It is so silent. All the noises we never notice and take for granted are gone; the sound of the furnace and the hot water heater; the sounds of cars passing by and the big trucks on I-287 braking by downshifting; the faint wail of the train whistle as it passes through Port Chester station; jets taking off from White Plains and passing overhead. The only noise during the day is the sound of chain saws as frenzied crews try to remove enormous trees and gain access to repair the downed lines for power and phones. Slowly the noises creep back, but it remains strangely quiet.
I do not miss the noise of the storm.; the howling and gusting wind which bashed against the house and caused the roof to creak ominously. I do not miss the fear I felt looking at our two plate-glass doors and worrying that a branch or object would crash into them, shattering the glass and leaving us victims of the storm’s raging. I do not miss the sudden banging noises when something flew into the house and we wondered what had come loose. I do not miss the feeling of being helpless in the dark just hoping that the night would end and we could see what had happened outside.
With each passing day, the lack of heat becomes more uncomfortable. There are no crews in sight to restore our power and I expect they have been busy in the city. Who would imagine that the entire south end of Manhattan would flood and be without power? It defies understanding. Walking around our neighborhood, the destruction is immense. Huge trees lying across roofs, power lines hanging useless in the air, yards unrecognizable under piles of branches and tree trunks, it all represents a huge toll on many, many people. However, all that pales against other tallies: the increasing count of fatalities, the hundreds of homes burned when firemen couldn’t reach the fires, the hundreds of thousands of damaged homes, the flooded towns. It is on a scale rarely seen in our country. Even as the clean up continues, Hurricane Sandy leaves questions in its wake. Is this a new weather pattern? How do we minimize the damage from future storms? Is this our future?