Most everybody made it through Hurricane Irene.
As for family described in prior posts, BJ, my ex, is fine and the maple tree in the back yard is still standing. However, the black locust in the front yard is leaning precariously towards the power lines, so it will have to be cut down.
“But we never lost power,” BJ proudly announced, “and the phones are working.”
Her grandkids made it back from Brooklynat midnight, proclaiming, “But, bobe – it’s just drizzling.” Hearing that, their grandmother harrumptffed, as they say in Yiddish.
As you may know, Irene got downgraded to a tropical storm when it made landfall in Atlantic City, NJ, and what was left of the eye came ashore at Coney Island, in Brooklyn. But flooding from torrential rains and the ocean surge has caused innumerable problems across the Greater New York – New Jersy metropolitan area.
BJ’s grandkids went for a tour on Sunday morning and reported that the surge had pushed the waters of Long Island Sound, the body of water that lies between LI and the Connecticut shoreline, to record levels, putting the jetties around Glen Cove and Sea Cliff under water.
Along those lines, the New York Times reports that a section of Rye, NY, which sits on the edge of LI Sound, is under two-feet of water. Further, half of Connecticut is without power, and Vermont is reporting “catestrophic” flooding from biblical-like levels of rainfall.
As for me, the pictures of Battery Park showing their benches protruding through the waters of the harbor overflowing onto the land – the southern tip of Manhattan – are extraordinary. It’s one more memorable image to reside inside my heart along with those from the nearby Ground Zero, which will be commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9-11 in two weeks.
Mom is another story. As of 6 pm Sunday, NY time, I have not been able to get through to her, still. However, BJ says that she got a-hold of Mom earlier in the day by cell phone, which I find surprising since cell phones usually go down before the land lines. Nevertheless, BJ reports that Mom is fine and her neighbors are coping with a neighborhood loss of power and a glitch in my mother’s fuse box and a back-up battery system to the phone.
Nevertheless, both cell phones and land-lines seem to be out throughout central Long Island, and Verizon sounds like it is having a system overload as their “failure to connect” messages flip between English and Spanish, or the calls ring intermittently or give a busy signal. In short, the phones are all messed up.
Almost a half-million people are without power on Long Island, according to the New York Times, and my friend Richie in Hampton Bays got his cell to work by late afternoon Sunday and called to tell me that one-third of the people on “Da Island” will be in the dark tonight.
Also, I can’t contact my sister in her Boston suburb, not on a land line or cell. The NY Times reports that another half-million folks are without power in Massachusetts, so my sister may be part of those affected.
However, I was able to get an email from my cousin JR in Center Moriches, LI, who lives just a block from Great South Bay. Everything is fine at his place, but he reports that his nearby barrier island, the famous Fire Island, has been breached by the ocean surge in five locations.
His sister Gail, from her Upper East Side Manhattan apartment called to say everything is fine in the heart of the Big Apple, but the wash-overs on Fire Island occurred at parking field #5 of Robert Moses State Park, where the syringes were found a few years ago that I wrote about two days back, and also in Saltaire, where my cousins’ family has long had a summer place.
Before the storm hit, my sister wrote to describe her preparations at home in Massachusetts, and she shared them in the storm piece posted yesterday. Saturday, before the storm hit in New England, she phoned me and said that her youngest daughter, nicknamed Miss Q, had just called from her new college-based home in New Hope, PA to ask for prayers as two trees had just fallen nearby and the rain was “really pouring.”
Sis reminded me that Miss Q had left Massachusetts a few days earlier, on her first-time-ever away from home by herself, leaving Boston by Greyhound on the prior Monday. As the bus approached NYC it was rocked by the 5.8 earthquake, and by the time they had reached the Port Authority Terminal the driver was so rattled he told the passengers he didn’t think the bridges to Philly would be safe to cross. They persevered, and surviving that she’s then in the middle of a Cat 1 hurricane six days later – and classes haven’t even started!
Welcome to adult life, kiddo.
Closer to home – Eatonville – the solidarity party I had mentioned in yesterday’s post turned out not to be quite as advertised. It was actually a birthday party for a fifteen year-old kid that was attended by well-over a hundred partiers. The few words of English spoken did offer a shout-out to their kinsmen in New York struggling with the storm, but even after the cops shut things down at 10 pm they flared back up around 1 am, triggering another call to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The party was in the 7800 block of the Eatonville Cut-Off Rd, in case you live in the area and had trouble falling asleep last night.
Addendum: Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm PT:
– Still no word from Mom or Sis.
– Miss Q received about 10 inches of rain in New Hope, PA.
– My cuz on Staten Island, Bruce J Bishop, has a YouTube video of his area of Stapleton Heights, not far from the Verrazano Bridge, or as we call it, the V-Z:
Addendum II: 6:15 pm, PT
– Mom’s okay. The power just came back, along with the phones about a half-hour ago. Nobody knows exactly what happened to the phones, but LI is clearly coming back online. And thank heavens that British kid, Lisa, was there to help provide moral support. Mom said the screen windows were knocking about at 2 am, and then the smoke alarm started beeping. Turns out Lisa was able to find a hammer and secure the flapping screens, and she also determined that the smoke alarm was in fact the Verizon battery box signaling a failure, which foreshadowed a system-wide crash by a few hours.
– Mom says that Sis has called, via a neighbor, and is okay. She has the same kind of phone problems as LI.
– Mom put a smile on my face by sharing how her neighbor Lou became the hero of the day because he had both a propane stove and a stove-top coffee maker, and served hot java to the neighborhood throughout the afternoon. I always knew Lou was a great guy, and today he earned another stripe.
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Thanks for the reports Bruce. Glad to here your family is fine. It would be hard to be so far away from them when something like this happened.