Hurricane Irene


My first thought about what promises to be a bitch of a hurricane for New York is that it will bring Alex home from summer camp more than a day early.

He was slated to bus in about 11 in the morning of Sunday. We got a call Thursday night. “We don’t wish to risk anyone’s life and limb,” the head of the camp said, “so Alex will be arriving-”

Twenty-four hours late??!! 

“Twenty-four hours early,” camp guy said. Perfect sense, I thought. Goddammit.

On Friday, Irene is expected to be the equivalent of a missile on Manhattan, the newest thing to assault this place in a decade of assaults. I spent Gloria (1985) in a basement apartment in Brooklyn where the foyer started to flood. In 1990 or so I got caught in Edna (I think that was her name; I was drunk) with a rickety umbrella. New York has had others: a bad one in the fifties, a double-whammy on Long Island in the thirties, and in the late 1800’s a devastating one came ashore near what is now JFK Airport. Right after the war of 1812, a hurricane jacked the tide in the Hudson and East rivers 13 feet in one hour.

I think about those hurricanes and think how Alex wasn’t my problem during any of them.

On Saturday morning, while I wait for his camp bus, it starts to sprinkle. Later, on the way home from the grocery store (“Why didn’t you shop for this?” Jill wonders), I barely need my umbrella. By 7 p.m., the trees are still motionless outside our window, but they say the bitch is closing on Philly. What am I supposed to do with him tomorrow, during what amounts to a Snow Day in August? “I’ve sat here many times listening to updates about big storms,” Jill noted in our living room late last night, after the boys were asleep, “but never have I sat here listening to big storm reports in my underwear.”

How will I keep Alex away from the wreckage of the big living room window if it blows out on Saturday night?

Yeah, well. Sunday afternoon: I just took a stroll. Lots of downed trees. Lots of birds out looking for food, too, and with all respect to Weather.com, they’re not going to flit around if anything else bad is coming. The East Coast seems now routinely hit by a new breed of storm that the old forecasting software can’t pin down.I will, however, be sweeping up the wreckage of Irene for a while: crumbs and salt from Alex’s pretzels after a day of confinement.

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How did Hurricane Irene effect you and your family?

Jeff Stimpson

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