Saturday, November 05, 2011

Trick or Treat Storm

For those of you who live in our area, these sketches will seem familiar. For those of you who live to the south, these will sound like dispatches from Mars. Either way, following are random snapshots of some goings-on surrounding what most will come to call the Halloween storm of 2011.

Wintertime: In the space of 10 minutes, we went from fall to winter. I got up and went out running into a gray, damp Saturday morning, wearing shorts and a sweatshirt. The leaves were the usual autumn assortment of reds and golds, with more on the trees than on the ground. When I got back, I checked my email, and glanced at the paper before heading up to take a shower. By the time I had gotten the shampoo out of my eyes, the lawn was covered in white and you couldn’t see the next house on the street.

If a Tree Falls in a Forest: All night long, it sounded like we were in a war zone. There was an ongoing volley of “crack” and “pop” and “bang” and “thud.” But it wasn’t bodies, it was trees. With the leaves still up and the snow being of the heavy, wet variety, the weight and stress on the branches was extreme. They would bend as far as they could, then snap and plummet to the ground, often taking others with them. We heard some bounce off the roof, though thankfully none came through.

The Immediate Aftermath: By Sunday morning it was over, and a bright blue day belied that anything had happened. Still, no power (yes, we have a generator; again, you were right, honey), no cable, no phone, no internet. We spent an hour dragging huge branches off the driveway and walks, and trying to sweep snow off the buried shrubs which sprang back to life as though on springs. A walk down the street saw similar damage to others, with a few worse off: a smashed car, a huge tree resting on a roof. Worse physical damage than from Hurricane Irene, though not as much water.

The Lay of the Land: After 28 hours without power, we decided to go out to see about getting a hot meal (our generator provides lights, heat, water and several outlets, but doesn’t provide enough juice for the oven or cooktop. And there’s only so much you can do with a George Foreman grill). It was like driving on an obstacle course. Trees hung over roads. In many places, space was reduced to a single lane, as trees had fallen on one side and the plows just plowed around them. Most neighborhoods were without power. In the main street of each town, block after block was dark, followed suddenly by lights. In those areas, stores and restaurants were packed, as people looked to stock up on supplies, get food or just get distracted.

Free Ride: Had to go to work Monday, so left early. Word was that while trains had been suspended for a day, they were running normally for the commute, though sprinkled with delays. As I walked to the station, a train was pulling in. I ran and caught it to find it all but empty. As I found a seat, an announcement: "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This is a special transit train being operated by a yard crew. We are not uniformed. We will be making limited stops. We will not be collecting tickets. If you need assistance, I may be identified by my big MTA winter coat, and my Boston Red Sox hat.”

And Lest You Forget: I had just come from a cold, wet, storm ravaged community that was reeling for the second time in as many months from weather related destruction. But that was there. In the city the roads were dry and the grass was green. I jumped on the subway to head downtown and glanced around to see the usual assortment of passengers. Well, not quite the usual. Sitting in the corner was a young woman chatting with a friend. The woman had a white porcelain face with red polka dots and big blue tears. Complimenting that were white gloves and leggings with the same polka dots, making her look like a doll. She wore a bright yellow wig and had matching yellow shoes. At the Spring Street station, she got up and walked off like nothing was unusual. And perhaps it wasn’t. It was New York City. It was Halloween. And life goes on.


Marc Wollin of Bedford was without power for 123 hours after the storm hit. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at

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