Worse Than The Worst
With great anticipation we awaited her arrival.
Finally, nightfall brought her furiously nipping at our doorsteps, howling to get in. Seventy miles north of New York City windows shook and lights flickered as 60-mile per hour winds swept through the development I live in. Street lights dimmed while competing sheets of rain pounded the pavement demanding to be heard.
Shortly after 11pm, there was a loud, sputtering, buzzing sound that ended in an explosion somewhere nearby.
Mom! my daughter shouted from her bedroom,
What was that?
Not long after, a second thunderous explosion brought with it the deafening sound of silence. The eerie quiet filled everything around us with darkness. The air was still. There was no light. For several hours we had no electricity. Two transformers in our neighborhood blew. But this was not surprising nor was it a hardship. We knew she was coming. We were warned. And warned and warned. We knew she was quite possibly the worst storm to hit the East Coast in nearly 100-years. We were warned. We had ample time to ready ourselves for the worst. And we did, the best we could because we knew.
Yet, we had no idea. How could we? How can you know what is worse than the worst?
Who could anticipate watching water pour into the Hoboken Path Station or having to close the New York Stock Exchange for two days in a row– unplanned? How could you fathom that thousands of laboratory mice and biological research materials would perish in New York University Hospital’s basement drowning years worth of scientific research when fail-safe generators engulfed by water refused to turn on? And how could you imagine an entire neighborhood of over 100 homes catching on fire or a roller coaster partially submerged in the ocean?
Could you even envision a storm-surge so powerful that it could wash a boat up onto train tracks from the Hudson River?
I couldn’t. Yet it happened in Ossining, New York.
Five days later, the rippling effects of Sandy’s brief presence are more than evident. On Friday the gas station that I pass on the way to work listed $3.93 per gallon for regular unleaded gas. At noon, the same station listed regular unleaded gas at $4.09 a gallon. When I left work at 3:30pm I had to drive 20-minutes north to find fuel and paid $4.23 per gallon for regular unleaded gas. In less than a day’s time, gas prices sky-rocketed and drivers raged as they weaved recklessly in and out of lanes in our commuter-community in a mad hunt to fill their tanks. All along the main strip of Route 9 from Fishkill to Poughkeepsie gas pumps were idle, sitting with yellow bags over their nozzles indicating a lack of fuel. Indeed, signs posted at station after station read: NO GAS! Those stations that still had some to sell sported lines and lines and lines of cars backing up traffic on the main thoroughfare adding to the frustration and panic that has begun to settle into the minds of this otherwise unscathed community 70-miles north of New York City.
Still, I’m unbelievably fortunate and grateful for this small inconvenience in comparison to friends just a few miles south where over 70% of the people who live in my hometown were without power all week. Many still are. Chaos reigns without working traffic lights. Police officers stand guard at gas stations as rationing takes effect. Looting has begun.
My heart and thoughts are with them as well as my neighbors in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island and Staten Island where Sandy lingered long enough to leave unimaginable destruction; worse than the worst. They are heavy on my mind.
I pray for the human spirit of kindness to prevail as we brace ourselves for the nor’easter lurking in this week’s forecast.
Photo Credits #1-3: Google Images/Hurricane Sandy
Photo Credit #4: Boat on Tracks/MTA
Photo Credit #5: Huff Post/Random Acts of Kindness