By Bruce A. Smith, and photo by Josh Magill
Like many, I was consumed with watching coverage of Hurricane Sandy this evening. In fact, as I bounced from CNN to Newsday to The New York Times to the Weather Channel, I received an email from some political outlet such as moveon.org that read: “If you tired of watching Sandy on your TV, why not check out Amy Goodman on Democracy Now,” and gave a link.
I clicked on the link and it featured Ms. Goodman interviewing some activists on global warming, and I thought, How appropriate.
I was also thinking that Sandy was the manifestation of what I had thought we were heading towards when I left New York in 1990 to move here to study full-time with Ramtha the Enlightened One in Yelm.
Back then I thought environmental collapse was imminent; that proved not to be the case, but the trends and the underlying causes are revealing themselves to be legitimate and dynamic.
So it is quite a powerful moment for me to watch the East Coast get slammed by Sandy, knowing that this is perhaps the tip of the proverbial iceberg of climate change and catastrophe.
Of course, these events are made more potent knowing that all of my family is Back East. Mom and my ex are on Long Island, and my sister and her kids are in the Boston area. Plus, I’ve got extended family and friends throughout the five boroughs, Jersey and up into New England. They are all feeling the effects of Sandy tonight, and tomorrow I can only imagine what they will have to deal with as they crawl out, huddle up and carry on.
My people, like most New Yorkers, are a pretty tough bunch. But, I was pleased to hear a new tone of concern in their voice when I talked with them today before the storm reached its full fury. They knew something bigger than anything they’d ever seen before was about to engulf them; yet, as always, they were resolute – life goes on and whatever happens we’ll deal with it.
Mom had a ton o’ food brought into the house, most of it delivered by her saintly group from church who have adopted her for their “meals on wheels” ministry. Next door neighbors, Lou and Jo the nurse, stopped by to coordinate final plans just before the lights flickered.
They went off around 6 pm NY time, but my cousin Gay in Manhattan was able to get through on a land line an hour or so later and then called me about 8 pm to say Mom was okay and Lou was shuttling back and forth.
My step daughter Lauren emailed me about 10 pm from her apartment in Queens to say that her mom, my ex BJ, was in the dark and that the romantic part of Sandy was proceeding nicely – candles and Coleman battery lamps.
Lauren added that the winds were OMG level, and her analysis was confirmed shortly thereafter when I read on the Weather Channel that the nearby Triborough Bridge was closed because they had just recorded wind gusts at 100 mph.
Lauren also wrote that she hadn’t been able to raise BJ with any text messages for the prior few hours and was asking nearby siblings in Glen Cove to check things out when safe to do so. I tried calling, but all lines were jammed and I never got through.
Gay got through to me a second time, saying she was okay and that everything in the Upper East Side of Manhattan was copacetic, and that no one seemed to be freaking out as far as she could see. That was good sign because I had begun to notice a tone of anxiety in the voices of the newscasters from WNBC. By 10 pm, they sounded downright alarmed as they found themselves cut off by rising flood waters while looking for higher ground in lower Manhattan, or losing their satellite dish as the wind gusts crippled their equipment.
I too, became emotional, weeping as I read the latest headline on Newsday: “Long Island Cut Off – all bridges and tunnels closed.”
Whew, my old home of Long Island had reverted completely to its original state of being an island. Even the airport runways at LaGuardia were under water and only a boat could get me home tonight, although I would probably be more comfortable making the ride in a submarine.
Friends here in Washington called and emailed, asking how my family was, and giving me updates from their TV screens.
“There’s three feet of water in the Stock Exchange,” exclaimed one. “My Gawd!”
“My Dad in Wantagh was able to get a call out and he says he’s okay. No flooding there,” said another.
“Your Mom’s house is at 88 feet above sea level. I just checked Google Earth,” proclaimed a neighbor.
Then, good ol’ Josh of Frederickson sent a picture of the full moon – the same exact lunar being that was helping trigger the flood tides in New York – and its graceful beauty calmed my jangling nerves.
Thanks to all, and by best to everyone who is riding the Great Beast of Sandy.
© 2012 Bruce A. Smith and Josh Magill