If current predictions turn out to be correct, this may be my last entry for a few days. Of course, if current predictions are as accurate as they were the last time a hurricane threatened the city, we’ll be out picnicking in the park Sunday afternoon under sunny skies.
The reality will probably be somewhere in the middle, as it often is.
We are waiting under partly cloudy skies for the arrival of Irene. You all know about Irene – there is no way you are breathing and living anywhere in North America and are still ignorant of this hurricane – but a large question mark still remains. The storm is large – Katrina large – but not as strong, and likely to weaken as it moves up the East Coast into cooler waters. Still, we’ve had so much rain here over the summer – 3 1/2 inches on one day not quite two weeks ago – that the ground is already saturated, which means flooding is likely even in the event the hurricane is downgraded to tropical storm.
So what to do?
Well, we live on West 66th Street in Manhattan. On a map, we are about midway up the length of the island. This means we are north of the flood zones and any mandatory evacuations will not affect us. I did take all the furniture and bikes off of our terrace, which I have never done before even in the face of high wind forecasts. Most of the stuff that was out there I took straight to the garbage. Which made me feel very productive.
Other than that I went to the grocery store this morning. This was not a special trip, but my standard weekly stock up. I did buy two bottles of water to supplement the water bottles we already have in a nod to the possibility of loss of power or contamination of our drinking water. In my view, that’s all we really need. Even if we lose power for a day or two we’ll be well fed and watered. This did not seem to be the prevailing point of view in my neighborhood, as all around me people stacked their carts high as though preparing for a siege that might last weeks. Really?
Of course, if you read the Post or watch any local news (which I do not) you might come to the conclusion that we are entering a doomsday scenario with this storm. One reporter even speculated that the high winds might cause the top of the Empire State Building to fall off. Which I think is a bit drastic, but reports like that are partly to account for the rush on grocery stores. I went to Pilates this afternoon as usual, and on my way home I saw a line of people, extending half-way around a city block, waiting to get in to Trader Joe’s to buy food.
I’m making light of this, but I do feel for the people like my friend and fellow unschooler Janet and her family who live on the beach out in Brighton. They are under mandatory evacuation orders, and that would be a drag, to put it mildly. The MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) has announced that it will begin suspending service on all subway, bus and train lines tomorrow beginning at noon, unless the path of the storm changes before then. Bridges and tunnels will close and streets will be open only to emergency personnel. If the predictions are correct, then they are right to err on the side of caution. No one wants Katrina round 2.
So we’re kind of in limbo tonight. Kind of excited, not worried, but wondering what it would be like to be in the path of a full on hurricane. I’ve witnessed some massive Nor’easters and a hurricane or two in my 20+ years in the city (not to mention two terrorist attacks and one rumble of an earthquake), but never been directly in the path, experiencing the fury of the winds and the calm of the eye. Having grown up in Indiana where tornadoes are a fact of life, it’s hard to get too upset about a storm for which we have had several days to prepare. In a tornado you’re lucky to get several minutes.
That said, I have a healthy respect for nature and what water and wind can do when they work in conjunction with each other. If we don’t lose power I’ll post photos of what a hurricane looks like from the 7th floor.