Saturday, September 03, 2011

An Irene Diary

On May 31, 1944, General George S. Patton, addressing his troops in England on the eve of their deployment to be part of D-Day, famously said this: "Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you ‘What did you do in the great World War Two?', you won't have to say, ‘Well...I shoveled shit in Louisiana.'" In a decidedly modern spirit, here's our Irene diary; decide for yourself whether we hit the beaches, or, well, you know.

Saturday/12PM. Cloudy: Turned on Weather Channel. Biggest storm hit Northeast. Decided some precautions were in order. Took all furniture on deck, flipped it over and put close to house. Took potted plants off railings, put on the ground. Charged phones, made sure there were batteries for flashlights.

Saturday/2PM. First rains, breezy: According to Weather Channel, storm surge could wash away New Jersey. Maybe it WILL be bad. Downloaded movies to Tivo to have something to watch when we inevitably lose power and cable. Downloaded books to Kindle and iPad. Civilization must survive.

Saturday 5PM. Steady, light rain, winds: On Weather Channel: "Hurricane Irene poses an extraordinary threat and is one that no one has yet experienced from North Carolina to the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast to New England." Wrote down time for end of the world. In preparation, defrosted chicken. Mulled over what to cook. Eventually made Chinese stirfry with vegetables and chili sauce. Not my best batch...too much soy sauce. I blame Irene.

Saturday 7PM. Rain picking up, tress start swaying: On Weather Channel: Congress has been washed away. Or maybe just had some water in the Capital basement, hard to tell. First major local problem: storm drain in driveway backing up. Could be the beginning of the end. With rake, pulled leaves from drain. Crisis averted. Started watching "The Adjustment Bureau."

Saturday 930PM. Rain starting to pelt house, trees bending: Verdict: even as entertainment in a hurricane, movie just OK. Cleaned out storm drain again. Turned back to Weather Channel. I was wrong: end of world AND of New York City. Everything shutting down, even Starbucks in Manhattan. Proof of end times.

Saturday 1130PM. Pounding rain, sweeping winds: On Weather Channel, all is darkness. But that's because correspondent is on beach at night. Bedtime.

Sunday 330AM. Howling wind, stinging rain: Wake to sound of motor. Power went out, generator kicked in. Mental note: Yes, honey, you were right. Got up, checked refrigerator, hot water heater, well pump. All still working. Called in power outage, first on block. Turned on Weather Channel. New Jersey still mysteriously there, New York about to be submerged. Went back to bed.

Sunday 630AM. Sweeping winds, rains, dark skies: Cable, phone, internet all out. Must come to grips that we'll have to talk with each other. No end to suffering: unlikely to get Sunday New York Times, and hard to read Style section on smartphone. Still, gennie means coffee, hot shower, lights. Formally eat crow: yes, honey, you were right. On the bright side, no cable, so no Weather Channel: we might already be drowned, just don't know it.

Sunday 930AM. Sky brightening a bit, rains easing: Reconnoiter around yard. Huge tree from neighbor's house came down, split, half in our yard, half in theirs. KO'd some bushes, but no one hurt. On street, huge tree across road, blocking us in. Text contact at Fire Department for help. They say sure, maybe someday.

Sunday 1130AM. Rain easing, winds dying: Check out neighborhood. Climb through fallen tree on street. On next road, little babbling brook is now roaring rapids. Another big tree down there. Two neighbors with chain saws come out just looking to cut something. Help them, tell them about our street. Impromptu neighborhood gathering, many help. Work party forms, tree cleared. Only minor injuries.

Sunday 5PM. Rains ending, wind picking back up again: Still no power, cable, phones, no estimate of fix. Stove, oven not on gennie, so defrost more chicken, fire up grill. Another crisis: DVD with "West Wing" on it in player in room not on gennie. Have to carry to other room, plug in to eject, then use different DVD player and find episode where we left off. Family very brave throughout challenge: proud of ingenuity, stoicism.

Monday 7AM. Bright blue sky, light breezes: Still no power, phone, internet. Start cleanup on yard, cleanout gutters of leaves and debris. Weather Channel Online: who cares anymore? Gennie still cooking: yes honey, you're still right. Speaking of cooking, is it too early to defrost...chicken?


Marc Wollin of Bedford and his family all came through storm fine, just inconvenienced. His column, come rain or shine, appears regularly in The Record-Review, the Scarsdale Inquirer and online at

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