Surviving Hurricane Sandy

I haven’t published anything newsworthy on this blog for far too long so I want to take this opportunity to give my readers an update on how I lived through Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy.

I first heard about Sandy through a friend’s Facebook post that was made more than a week before the storm threatened the northeast.  I sort of dismissed it, thinking it would not prove to be a factor.  I was mistaken.

As all the weather experts predicted the hurricane would strike the northeast, I thought this was going to be Hurricane Irene all over again: a hurricane that grazed the NYC-area, leaving a few damp leaves, while terrorizing New England with massive flooding.  I was mistaken.

The ominous warnings from the weather experts, the politicians—the people in power—that mentioned high risk of power outages, flooding, and extensive damage all painted the same picture: an abstract of panic that was a realistic call for people to take their safety and lives seriously.

Irene made me complacent.  I hardly flinched even when the storm was two to three days away from its projected landfall.  People I knew were buying non-perishable food, batteries, flashlights, water while I sat and wondered if I had enough water already.  It wasn’t until Sunday that I went with my mom to stock up on some supplies.  At the time, there was still plenty of water being sold in packages of 24 20-ounce bottles; D batteries had already sold out.

I was still complacent but I had a growing sense of concern.  I began to follow the updates about Sandy from the National Hurricane Center.  I kept hoping that Sandy would find a way to go out to sea, just like so many other hurricanes before it.  This was never forecast; virtually every projection had the hurricane making a sharp left turn right into the New Jersey coastline.  There was no way for this storm to miss us.

Then came Monday.  Buses and subways were already closed.  Many people’s jobs were closed, too (not everyone’s).  I spent the day with my gaze affixed to the TV, waiting for updates on Sandy.

The skies grew darker.  The winds became louder.  There were no longer just gusts of wind—these were now forceful howls of wind.  Trees swayed back and forth.  Leaves were flying everywhere.  The ground became damp from the light showers.

I witnessed flooding on TV of so many areas in New York and New Jersey.  Water was pounding seaside homes and businesses.  And all of this was equivalent to the worst of Irene—Sandy’s “main event” was still several hours away!

This is gonna be rough, I said to myself.  All the doom-and-gloom predictions were true.  No longer was I thinking the storm would merely just pass.  Now I was thinking just how was I going to survive the night—would I still have power?

I wish I could tell you tales of my heroism but all I merely did was stay holed up in my room listening to 1010 WINS  until its signal went dead.  I kept checking the time while comparing it with the projections from the forecasters.  Sandy managed to pick up speed and crash into the Jersey shore (no MTV) earlier than anticipated.

The hours went by slowly.  The night, for me, consisted of relative silence interrupted by loud bursts of wind blowing on my exterior walls.  The winds blowing against the side of my house made a sound I had never heard before while the winds blowing against my house were strong enough to make the floors creak; I even felt the walls move, too.  This was made scarier when I found out the facade of a building in Manhattan collapsed.  I even moved away from windows (not that I was anywhere next to them to begin with) after I heard about a man who was killed in his home after a tree fell into it.

The weather people said the worst of the storm would take place from 8pm-10pm.  It was only 9 o’clock at night.  My lights flickered more and more at this point.  There was no consistent interval; the lights would flicker whenever the winds picked up.  I made sure my flashlight was within reach.

The reports from WCBS 880 kept me updated throughout the night as they still had a functioning signal.  One of their reporters was in downtown Manhattan and was telling the audience what he was seeing; his account of a parking facility completely flooded with water left me speechless after he mentioned there was a stench of gasoline in the air.

I went to bed saying to myself  how I wished I could wake up to see tomorrow—just like I did when Hurricane Irene hit in 2011.   Once I woke up I finally realized just how bad everything else was: many subway tunnels are flooded with water, underground parking lots are also flooded, trees are down in many areas, NYU hospital lost power from their backup generator and had to evacuate patients, and 80 houses in Breezy Point burned to the ground as firefighters could not reach that area because of all the flood waters (and Sandy’s high winds only helped to fan the flames).  This was a reminder that nature usually wins whenever she’s furious.

Two hurricanes in two consecutive years is an anomaly.  I hope it doesn’t become a trend.

As for all of us… we have to put the memories of yesterday behind us,  be thankful we’re still here today, and figure out how to put the pieces back together so that we can see tomorrow.

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