"Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York." A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith.
From the homes turned into kindling to the disappearance of everyday conveniences, the pictures on the news are all too familiar. When the tornado hit Glade Spring, Virginia, this spring, the destruction was swift, but the aftermath lingers yet today. With these memories freshening every time we drive through Glade Spring (and even more intensely quickening for those who lived through the direct hit), the news casts from hurricane Irene were distressing. Families stared at spots where their houses once stood, rivers swept roads and cars away, and trees lay across crushed roofs and dangling wires.
But before the hurricane hit, there was the earthquake. The earthquake was centered in Mineral, Virginia. The newscaster reported, "There has been an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale. It was centered in Mineral, Virginia." Okay. Wait for it. "And it was felt in New York." Yes. Nuclear power plants were shut down in Virginia, buildings were damaged, and communications were disrupted, but Lord have mercy, they felt it in New York.
I live in an area that can be compared to downtown Baghdad in 2003: at times we never know if we'll have electricity at all or for how long we'll have it. Although we don't have a generator, many of our neighbors do have one. We've learned to prepare for power outages, whether it's caused by heavy snow, flood, or high wind, because more likely than not, we will lose our electricity (and cable, phone, and internet service) several times a year. I know what to do when the power goes out. You go to Food City and buy a loaf of bread.
As we watched the news coverage of hurricane Irene this weekend, Larry commented that he wondered how the storm would affect Philadelphia. What about Washington, DC, I asked. The only concern seemed to be that the storm was on course to hit New York. Yes, yes, yes, they all said, it did come ashore in Cape Lookout, North Carolina, tore up through the Outer Banks, hit population centers in Virginia, but, mercy, it's headed for New York. Not much was said of the communities north of New York, which as it turned out, were extremely devastated from flooding from the hurricane's rain.
There stood the ridiculous Geraldo Rivera on a deserted street in front of his office in New York on Saturday night. I suppose he couldn't get a flight out of New York to report on the storm, so rather than sit in a studio, he stepped outside so we could all see that it was raining in New York.
Reports of the storm damage have been oddly quiet about New York. On Sunday there was video of a man sitting at the door to his house watching water recede. "No big deal" was his attitude; the water did not get high enough to come into his house, and all he had to do was wait a little while for the water to go down.
Locations near the coast are devastated, and the floods in New England have shut off entire communities. Some areas will not have electricity for a week. One woman today said that after only a few minutes of the storm, she and her family knew they'd made a mistake in deciding to ride out the storm in their home.
I have yet to see one story about damage in New York. There might have been some destruction; perhaps a tree blew down somewhere. Thank goodness the subway trains are running again.