Monday, August 29, 2011


For whatever reason, it didn’t occur to me to listen to the radio this morning before I left the house. We live far enough to the west, apparently, that all we saw of Hurricane Irene was one very rainy Saturday. There was a minute or two when the rain was lashing down so hard I thought it would be a brutal overall experience (and it just so happened that I was pulling into the parking lot of a store when said deluge started pounding down, and since I had both of my kids in the car with me I abandoned the errand-in-progress and headed home to hunker down) but that was all it was: a minute or two. We didn’t have any flooding on our property or in town, and the power never went out, and Sunday was cheerily blue-skied enough that I consigned the entire storm event to the past tense. I treated this morning as routinely as any other Monday, got in my car, and headed for the train station. Only when my car stereo came to life in mid-jeremiad of school closings did it dawn on me that (a) the VRE might not be running at all, or might not run all the way in as far east as I needed to go, or might be running at reduced speeds and make me much later than usual for work OR (b) my office might be without power, or the federal government might have give non-essential personnel (of which I am the very definition) the day off due to widespread power outages in the District, &c.

But as it turned out, the VRE was running on-schedule and at-speed, and my office was open and everyone is here, so I am left to conclude that everything worked out for the best. If I had been thinking last night about potential office closings, and obsessively checking for web updates until midnight or whatever, I would have been a lot more crushed to be cubicle-bound today. But a momentary “oop?” this morning was not enough to throw my entire Monday into upheaval.

As I said, we got off lucky, moreso than my folks apparently did. My father didn’t have any flooding or house damage, lost power for a little bit, but mainly had to contend with a massive old growth tree that fell squarely across his driveway. Insert obligatory joke about how he insists on owning an SUV for lifestyle reasons but even an over-accessorized light truck can’t help you drive over a three-foot-thick bole in your direct path. Still, that’s not the worst of all possible outcomes, either. My mother on the other hand, poor woman, just recently took up residence, along with my step-father of course, with his 92-year-old mother in New Jersey, and that house is in a very low-lying area near the Raritan River which flooded last time a big hurricane came all the way up the East Coast (’99 or so) and, sure enough, flooded again late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. They all had plenty of warning to evacuate and my mom’s sister-in-law had made a block of hotel reservations a few towns away (presumably on higher, drier ground) so that they would have someplace to evacuate to, if it came to that (which it did). And as mom was telling me when I spoke to her, they’ve rebuilt her mother-in-law’s house after a flood before and they will do it again, so the sense of confusion and uncertainty isn’t terrible this time. Not for my mom, at any rate; my step-father’s poor mother is starting to lose her mental faculties a bit in her advanced age at this point, so she’s been a bit of handful to take care of and repeatedly explain why they can’t go back to the (half-submerged) house just yet.

So everyone’s OK, some of us are already back to normal and some of us have a ways to go yet, but we’re OK. Thus I will end on a shot of professional wrestler Greg “Hurricane” Helms, whom I dressed up as once for a non-Halloween costume party because he has a Green Lantern tattoo and that amuses me.


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