Monday, August 29, 2011

Weathering Hurricane Irene in Brooklyn

Hurricane Irene had more bark than bite in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Between the TV commentators and grocery store lines, you'd think we would have just experienced the storm of the century. Instead, it seemed like we received just slightly more rain with slightly stronger winds than usual. Paul and I slept through the worst of it.

Yes, we were lucky. Other areas of New York lost power and experienced flooding and broken branches.Our biggest inconvenience: our Dish Network went out and a technician is coming this week to repair it.

With our location about a mile from the shore -- not to mention three stories up -- we weren't worried at all about flooding. (That wasn't the case in other areas of New York City -- places like Coney Island, the Rockaways, Battery Park City and much of coastal Staten Island were evacuated.) We were more concerned about losing electricity and the possibility of shattered windows. There wasn't much we could do, however, but make sure we had a working flashlight (we did) and enough food to last through the weekend.

Many were preparing for the worst. Near a Rite Aid on Friday evening I saw two people walking away with the essentials -- one had a carton of bottled water, and the other a 12-pack of beer. Grocery stores were crowded and shelves quickly emptied. It took two tries to get a loaf of bread -- the grocery store nearest our place Friday night had only a few packages of hot dog buns and a lonely garlic baguette. I had better luck at a larger grocery store the next day.

Saturday was gray and humid with periodic drizzles throughout the afternoon. The subway shut down at noon with rumors that it might not reopen until Monday afternoon. Several neighborhood businesses plastered long strips of tape on their windows, hoping, I'm sure, that they wouldn't be needed.

We stayed up until about 5 a.m., tracking the storm online and watching CNN until we lost our signal. The seals around a few of our windows our bad; by this time we had to carefully place some buckets and towels on the sills and sop up some water. I awoke at 7 a.m. and put out another bowl. When I got up again three hours later, all was calm and the worst had passed. By the time Irene arrived, she wasn't a hurricane, but instead a tropical storm.

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, the subway system is still shut down. It isn't expected to be running again for the morning commute.

A week or two ago I thought the theme of today's blog post would be about marriage -- it's our eighth wedding anniversary tomorrow. And so I'll end this post with a bad joke. If I've learned anything in eight years, it's that sometimes you just have to weather the storm.

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