Irene’s Aftermath: Sympathy For The Devil
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?