Irene disturbs the peace

Hurricane Irene, Aug. 26, 2011 (Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

“Irene” means “peace” in Greek. Ironic name— as if a hurricane could be peaceful.

It’s amazing to me how fast news travels today. People here in Italy were calling to ask me how friends and family have fared. They did the same with the earthquake.

It’s hard to be so far away, knowing friends and family could be suffering. Or the house floating away . . .

I have first-hand knowledge of battling a hurricane as it slams into my world. Almost 20 years ago to the day, Hurricane Bob barreled into Long Island.

Naturally, I had first tied down or brought inside anything at all that might take flight. When the storm started in earnest and the wind battered the house horizontally, the water flowed in under the doors. For hours I was mopping and wringing ceaselessly with huge towels. If the flow of water began to abate, that was a sign that the storm was bursting in under a different door, as the hurricane wound round the house. It was time to close one set of windows and open another, on the leeward side of the house, to relieve the pressure.

I was fortunate to have a great neighbor who became a great friend. Both of us were alone, braving the storm’s fury and doing everything we could to protect our houses from too much damage. We kept in touch on the phone during the storm. During the four days of no power, we shared the contents of our warming freezers and refrigerators, cooking on her grill or my gas stove.

Living through a hurricane whose eye passes directly overhead makes a good story now, but at the time it was a nightmare. I share the relief of those who say Irene, destructive as it was, was still not the catastrophe that was expected and feared.

Category 3 hurricane inundation projection (Image by NYCDEP CU SUNY/HydroQual; GISS AOM; USACE; NWS; FEMA; NY; NJ; CT)

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Filed under Environment, Musings, Women

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