My Hurricane Irene Recap

28 Aug

Post-Hurricane Irene in BrooklynI didn’t feel the earthquake last week, and I was completely ignoring everything about Hurricane Irene. I just thought that by the time it hit New York, all it would amount to was heavy-ish wind and rain. I was even planning to go to yoga in Manhattan on Sunday, thinking that it would be cozy to be inside in class as the rain and wind swirled outside. And so, I totally tuned out all news of all things Irene.

Until Friday morning. When I was leaving my apartment I ran into my neighbor who told me that our local Key Food was sold out of water. Then at work, I started seeing pictures of the storm system and how big it was, and heard that it was “the size of Arizona.” And my co-worker who is from Florida told me that the reason you need gallons of water is so you can flush the toilet if your water supply goes out. So I made plans to do some hurricane preparation shopping after work.

First, I stopped at the Duane Reade near my office, assuming that Manhattan stores would be better stocked than the ones in Brooklyn. They still had plenty of water, but they were already sold out of flashlight batteries. Then I headed home to Brooklyn to get rain boots. Another co-worker had pointed out, “If there’s a hurricane, boots aren’t going to help you,” but I was more thinking that if the streets remained flooded afterwards, I didn’t want to be stranded in my apartment for days with nothing more waterproof than Converse.

I was hoping that the bigger Key Food farther away from where I lived wouldn’t be sold out like the one near me, so that was my next stop. But when I arrived, Hurricane Irene seemed like even more serious of a threat. I got the last grocery cart, which two people then tried to wrestle away from me. The bread shelf was totally empty. There was no more skim milk. And they, too, were sold out of batteries. I got non-perishable food and the Glade candle that smelled the least bad and stood on line, when a voice came over the loudspeaker, “Cashiers, thanks for rocking it today! It’s been busy and you’ve been doing a great job, and we’re gonna keep it going ’til the break of dawn!” which united all the customers in laughter, who had only moments before been trying to steal grocery carts from each other (me). Trudging home, I sustained hurricane injuries 24 hours before the storm was due to hit from carrying heavy grocery bags so much farther than usual: a muscle that felt pulled in my left arm, and big bruises on both legs where the bags hit with every step.

The only thing I hadn’t been able to find was batteries, and when I got to my building, a neighbor I’d never seen before was in the lobby. Like a battery angel, she asked me if I needed some, and gave me her extras.

My last stop was Starbucks to get decaf coffee beans ground because I did not want to go through forced withdrawal during a natural disaster. Since they were going to be closed for two days they were giving away tons of free food, and I got enough reduced-fat coffee cake to last a week.

On Saturday, my uncle called to say that he wasn’t worried about me surviving the storm, he was worried about me surviving Starbucks being closed for the weekend. Then I made one last trip to a (non-corporate) coffee shop, and hunkered down for the duration.

Despite my plans to watch the Netflix I’ve had out for eight months and organize my finances (perhaps cancelling Netflix would be a sound financial decision), I got sucked into watching six hours of hurricane coverage. The last news I saw at 11pm before going to sleep was to brace for the storm which would arrive overnight, the worst would hit between 8am and 10am, and it was slow-moving so it would be over us all day. When I woke up in the morning, it was all over.

Hurricane Irene was a lot like I remember Hurricane Gloria: a lot of hype, watching hours of hurricane coverage on the news with my family (though this time I was watching it while on the phone with them), and then it passed without much fanfare. After Hurricane Gloria, I walked around my yard taking pictures of fallen tree branches for my fifth grade photography class, and today I walked around my neighborhood taking pictures of fallen tree branches for my blog. After Hurricane Gloria was over I went to the birthday party of a girl in my class, and today I ventured out to find an open coffee shop (which I did!), and without subway service to Manhattan, went to a Brooklyn post-hurricane yoga class that was much-needed, since I’m still sore from carrying hurricane supplies and sitting in front of the TV for so many hours.

Today I have more canned food on my shelves than I would care to eat, a really stinky Glade candle smelling up my apartment, enough water to flush a toilet, and I have to put my AC back in, because I figured that having it in was like having your window open during a hurricane. But I’m from Westchester and I heard from my Dad that the Hudson River overflowed and there is a lot of damage in his town, not to mention all the other places that were severely impacted. So while I don’t know how long I can eat canned tuna and I’m questioning the practicality of my radio battery purchase, I’m thankful that I was prepared but didn’t need to be, and only faced minor inconvenience and not major devastation.

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One Response to “My Hurricane Irene Recap”

  1. Fear of Writing September 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    Jen, I was riveted to this! I’m fascinated to hear what it was actually like for you.

    I, too, am very glad that you were prepared but didn’t need to be. And I hope it’s OK to say that I found your account both compelling and entertaining. There were some really funny bits! “My uncle called to say that he wasn’t worried about me surviving the storm, he was worried about me surviving Starbucks being closed for the weekend” made me laugh out loud (if I’d been drinking coffee, I’m sure it would have come out of my nose ;~). The irony that you put into this is just so delicious.

    ~ Milli

    P.S. I know that exact grocery bag pain you’re talking about. Years ago I lived In The Dandenong Mountains in Australia as a single mom with no car. My house was at the bottom of the longest, steepest driveway you’ve ever seen and to walk up it to go anywhere was a cardiac event. To walk down it laden with grocery bags (and when the pavement was slick from rain, which it usually was) was not only painful for the hands, arms and shins it was dangerous. I would always SWEAR not to buy so much next time I shopped – but it’s deceptive when you’re in the store. You don’t know the exact poundage until you’ve carried it for half a mile.

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