So, typically I save (Mostly) True Story posts for Tuesday, but considering that this one’s a bit topical, I’ve decided to post it a day early.
As we all know (and if you haven’t heard by now, I’m embarrassed for you) a hurricane hit the Northeast over the weekend, completely halting all conversation about that minor earthquake thing that happened, oh, a week or so ago….Who remembers any more? Impending hurricane > minor earthquake, obviously.
I’d heard talk about this Hurricane Irene throughout the week, but because a hurricane in New York City was so beyond the realm of possibilities, I didn’t really pay any attention. That is, until Thursday night. After two back-to-back worried phone calls from my mom and my grandmother, I decided to take a closer look at this apparent real-life unicorn.
A glance at a few news websites revealed that Bloomberg was considering shutting down the subway stations, and possibly evacuating people from Manhattan. What-the-what? Maybe this was the real deal.
I decided to get in touch with friends of mine from college, Josh and Rachel, who I knew had just moved to New Jersey a few weeks ago, and see if they’d let me throw myself on their mercy in a worst-case-scenario situation. They were amazing about it and promised me that I could crash with them if need-be, and so I packed a bag to take with me to work the next day. I really didn’t think I’d use it, but it helped to feel prepared.
I still wasn’t able to fathom the possibility of an actual hurricane hitting Manhattan, and so at that point my main fear was being logistically unable to get home from work on Friday if Bloomberg evacuated NYC. Let me explain: although I live in Manhattan, I work in Hoboken, NJ. If Bloomberg gave the order for my neighborhood to clear out Friday, I’d essentially be a homeless refugee stranded in New Jersey. And that is exactly what happened!
While at work on Friday, Bloomberg announced his intention to close all subways at 12 p.m. on Saturday regardless of conditions. When he did that, Josh did a pretty good job of convincing me to stay with them regardless. “It’s an island, Leigh,” the text message read pointedly, and I knew he was right. I did not want to be stranded on that island with no transportation except the two feet God gave me. The thought was horrifying. So, it was decided: Slumber party at Josh and Rachel’s place!
Which meant that when Bloomberg promptly followed his subway stall announcement with an order for the mandatory evacuation of many areas in lower Manhattan—including that of my own apartment building—I felt a little bit annoyed. Like the way you feel at the car behind you who honks right before you’re about to go anyway. Alright, alright, I wanted to tell him, I’m leaving! But then I remembered that the universe does not always revolve around me and that maybe some other Manhattanites still needed to hear the message, and I got over it.
I stopped at the hardware store in Hoboken after work for a few hurricane essentials. They were down to the last of their batteries until the Saturday shipment, and the only flashlights they had were those miniature ones about the width of two fingers and just as long. They had no more battery-powered radios.
I grabbed several battery packs and three flashlights (which just happened to be our school colors, might I add! Fate.), then waited in a horrendous line to make my purchase. It was the first of several I would wait in over the course of the day.
Next stop was CVS for foodstuffs. I paused in front of the isle. What would one want to eat during a hurricane? I settled on a mix of the practical and the not-so-much:
- tuna-to-go packs
- double-stuffed Oreos
- Hawaiian rolls
- A LARGE Fiji water (only brand they had left in stock)
I also looked for beer, and learned that in New Jersey you can’t buy beer in drug stores. BUT, other than that little mishap that could be easily remedied when I met up with Josh and Rachel, I felt pretty prepared for whatever Irene had up her sleeve (lace, no doubt, that saucy minx).
And that’s what I was laden with when Josh and Rachel picked me up from the Newark PATH station in their red car still sporting Texas plates. My hoard actually all turned out to be a bit heavier than I’d anticipated, and in combination with my backpack, put me just enough off balance so that I fell over on the train at one point. As in, I hit the ground. Me, my backpack, my plastic bags full of life-preserving goodies.
No one helped. Everyone stared. Oh, the Northeast…but, I digress.
I was SO excited to see those license plates. We spent the rest of that day stocking up on more essentials (salt and vinegar Utz chips! Cheez-Its! Red wine!) and unavoidably waiting in two more LONG lines. One for foodstuffs, one for liquor.
The next day, we further prepared, boarding an exposed window (see pic below), filling the tub with water, and creating a kick-ass safe room, if I do say so myself, complete with blankets and pillows. Cozy!
And then the wait began.
We alternated between watching the news, blitzing through Netflix episodes of Mad Men, honing our survival skills with Fruit Ninja for Xbox, all whilst sipping on glasses of wine, bottles of beer, and solo cups of mixed drinks.
Then, if you’ll pardon my French: shit got real. The rain came down hard. The wind howled. And we may have gotten a wee bit scared.
The three of us stayed up as late as we could and, when it became apparent that the storm wasn’t really supposed to hit until the earliest of hours, we set an alarm to wake us so we could check hurricane stats closer to then and confirm whether or not we really had to hide out in our safe room, which, while awesome, would have been a bit cramped for three people to spend any great length of time in.
The next day, it was all over. We had power. We had water. Hurricane Irene had blown through without so much as a “Hidy-do!”
It turns out, we were lucky. Josh and Rachel’s next door neighbor’s had a roof leak, and flooding was a problem throughout New Jersey and New York. And even though the rain had stopped, we were still pretty much stranded where we were. Both Jersey and NYC transportation systems were down all day Sunday, and major flooding had made many roads impassable.
So, we continued with a post-hurricane party. More Mad Men. More mixed drinks! Only this time it was more fun, probably due to the noticeably distinct lack of “impending doom” in the air.
This Monday my office is closed due to lingering transportation issues, but all should be back to normal Tuesday. I’ve already returned to my own apartment and, for the most part, to my pre-hurricane existence.
Hurricane Irene, you blew in and out of my life in a fashion much like that of an angry ex-lover. And in the same vein, I think I can safely say I never want to see you again. In the timeless words of one Fez from That Seventies Show, “Good day [storm]—I said GOOD DAY!”