The east coast was in the gripes of panic. First we felt the effects of an earthquake whose epicenter was in a small town in Virginia. I was actually in the hospital with my Mom, who is being treated for pneumonia. More on that in another blog. While I was standing there in her room, I felt the ground beneath me roll. At first I wondered what almost knocked me off my feet. I thought it may have been just my mind and feet playing tricks on me. Then I noticed a very large person being rolled in the hallway so i just assumed they must have accidentally banged into the wall en route to their room. Turned out it wasn’t just me who felt it but the whole room. Then it turned into the whole floor. Finally the whole hospital. Soon, the news reports came that we had felt the shock of an earthquake. A 6.0 earthquake in fact. Earthquakes have happened in the past on the east coast but they usually were low caliber. So imagine the shock of knowing we could have a powerful one. That was the talk of the city and several states affected by the natural disaster. Of course our west coast siblings laughed at our reaction. Pshawing our fears over what they considered a twitch compared to the roars they deal with on a regular basis. In any case, nature had made itself known to all of us.
Then Irene started to churn up. Wrecking havoc in the Caribbean, the storm grew larger and larger as it moved closer to the eastern seaboard. It devastated areas with its strong winds and rain. So, panic set in all the cities laying ahead, including NYC. The mayor and governor talked about shutting down various services: MTA, tunnels, bridges, etc. Hospitals located in flood prone areas were evacuated to higher ground hospitals. A sense of hysteria was shown by some while others just went about their daily lives. Soon people were upset when others did not take Irene so seriously. I had joked with friends that I had once dated an Irene and she was a force to be reckoned with. Needless to say, some found it hilarious while others found it in poor taste.
I didn’t go overboard on shopping and preparing as I normally have water and essentials around the house. Also, after 9/11 and the blackout several years ago, I learned about keeping a flashlight and other materials. I did go to the grocery store and was amazed at the level of despair some people showed. In fact, one person I saw carried far to many gallons of water, only having dropped and effectively destroyed a gallon and a carpet in a store. While I believe in preparing for the worst but hoping for the best, some of the people I saw didn’t appear to ever set foot in a grocery/drug store to buy these items but were only doing it because that was what they were told. It wasn’t a normal thing for them to buy milk, eggs and vodka.
So, I braced for Irene to batter the city. Instead, Irene started us off with some wicked winds only to taper off into gentle breezes with light rain. The wrath of Irene, expected to hit us around 9-10am, turned more into a whimper of a comely young lady. She came, she knocked a few trees down in Manhattan and left. Other boroughs had some heavier damage with flooding and major tree damage but luckily she was more bark than bite. When I ventured out this morning to see the damage. Initially I came across a tree that had fallen on a car. Lots of damage on one block. Then I walked up and saw a lot of puddles but nothing more. A few more trees here and there but many saplings withstood the wicked ways of Irene.
With the storm moving onto New England, now some people are complaining that perhaps it was overkill on being precautious. I don’t think that is the case. Sometimes you have to do this to even get the majority of the population jumping into action. If something terrible did happen, and the city did minimal preparations, every official would be lambasted. So, while I think there was some overkill, it was necessary. Sometimes extreme is required, especially with us New Yorkers who believe we have seen it all.