Thursday, September 01, 2011

Irene’s Aftermath: Sympathy For The Devil

Once afternoon when I was about seven, I thoughtlessly ran into traffic to retrieve a stray ball. Fortunately, nothing bad happened: the driver saw me and slammed his brakes in time, no other driver hit him, I didn’t even lose my ball.

That said, even as a seven-year-old dumb enough to run into traffic, I still knew enough (when considering the incident afterwards) to conclude “I was very lucky,” rather than “Obviously, that talk about the danger of running into traffic is overblown hype, used by authority figures to control me!”

Which brings me to Hurricane Irene, which (despite warnings to the contrary) turned out to be an extremely minor storm, here in my little corner of Connecticut. And by “my little corner,” I specifically mean “my small city block, and the one next to mine.” Beyond that, though, the river overflowed its banks, and less than a mile in every direction were homes and businesses without electricity; roads either coated in mud from temporary flooding, or completely washed away, leaving flooded ravines where the roadbed used to be; a building that collapsed directly into the river less than ten minutes’ walk from my front door.

No damage on my street, though. For the first time since I loved here, I can point to my address and say “I live in the good part of town!” I did lose electricity, but only for a second; none of my refrigerated or frozen food went bad though I did have to reset all my digital clocks.

In conclusion: despite the catastrophe unfolding in Vermont, the millions still without power on the East Coast, the dozens dead and all the other damage caused by Hurricane Irene, I personally suffered none of the ill effects the media warned me about. Thus, this was a minor fizzled-out nothing of a storm, and the warnings about it mere hype and bullshit. ’Cuz it's all about me. Only me.

When the sun came out on Sunday afternoon, I grabbed my camera and walked a few blocks to where the underground river re-emerges into the open. It’s usually less than a foot deep and a few feet across, but when the remnants of Irene came through it overflowed its banks into nearby streets. By the time I came by the water had mostly receded, but the roads were still closed to traffic and covered in a couple inches of mud.

There used to be an abandoned business building spanning the river itself – since at least the 1960s – and it always survived previous flooding, but this time the building slumped into the river below, and I saw two large black cracks in the yellow brick walls.

I saw them from a safe distance away, using the zoom function on my camera, but every few minutes somebody would walk around the yellow tape police attempted to tie around the slumping building (the still-brisk winds kept tearing the tape loose), and a few people actually stood on the front steps peering in, and I found myself actually feeling sorry for the exasperated policeman who kept repeating over and over into his loudspeaker “Get away from the building. Get away from the Stately Floors building. You there, in the white shorts and blue top, get away from the building!”

I’m not usually one to urge compliance with authority figures, but this was a rare instance when I wanted to shout “Listen to the cops, dumbass!” Of course I didn’t; I said nothing as I walked across a mudfield that used to be a sidewalk. A group of five teenage girls walked across from the other direction; four wore flip-flops and the other walked barefoot, and a few minutes later when I heard “Get away from the building” over the loudspeaker again, I wasn’t surprised to see the barefoot girl peering inside the store.

Various friends and colleagues who live closer to the coast or major rivers remain without power even now, five days later. Entire towns in Vermont were wiped out. But I’m completely fine, so I’ll be the latest media person to declare Hurricane Irene a complete non-event (unless you want to focus on the whole “me agreeing with government authorities” angle). But an actual disaster? Pfft. I’m fine and so’s New York, and really, who else matters?


Anonymous smartass sob said...

You mean you haven't been without electrical power all week and yet you posted no updates?! Shame! Shame! Shame! Bad Feral Genius! :-)

Anyway, I take it the tree didn't fall and smash your car afterall - that's good.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed the point, was that intentional? The point was that before Irene hit your little corner of the world the press, the weathermen and the government knew it was not the second coming of Katrina. But they continued with the "hype" as though it were. Why exacty?? Some say it is because the press corp is in the New York/DC area so anything that happens there is of course important. Fires in thw West and droughts in Texas; no big deal but RAIN in NEW YORK!! That's unheard of and requires 24/7 attention on every channel. Another theory is that the administration needed a big storm so they could react and sprinkle money on it and look good. When it became clear this was not New Orleans all over again the press thought maybe we can make it look like New Orleans all over agian and prop up the president. A sham, a fraud, hype; but then what would you expect from the media??

Do you see what they were talking about or are you part of the hype?

7:34 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Anonymous, hearing that this was hype rather than a monster storm will doubtless be of great comfort to the Vermonters whose homes and towns have been washed away. Imagine how much worse things wouldbe were Irene something more than a sham, a fraud, a hype!

Still, fuck'em; if they wanted to matter, they should've lived in Manhattan.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Abel said...

Smartass: yeah, I know, but this has been one of those weeks where time just slips away from you.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous smartass sob said...

...where time just slips away from you.

Mistress of the double entendre. :-)

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Wayne said...

Speaking of double entendres: "For the first time since I loved here, "

6:26 AM  

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