Friday, February 8, 2013

Stormy Friday, Post-Sandy

I feel differently about this storm. It's snowing already, outside my fifth floor window. Cereal-size flakes are falling like confetti, white against the red brick building across the street. My big kids are off to school, in their snow boots, and I'm thinking already about what the subways will be like when it's time to retrieve them...will the trains be overly crowded? Do I need to leave earlier? Ruby is supposed to sleep at a friend's house this evening...will we be able to get her back tomorrow?

Usually, storms don't affect us Manhattanites as much as our suburban brethren. It doesn't matter when or how much it snows when you can rely on your feet for transportation. Plus, our power system is underground--it is, historically, uncannily reliable. That is, until Sandy.

I remember the days before Sandy, and just like with every storm that's ever come before, I listened to the warnings and thought they were surely talking to someone else. Make sure you have flashlights, batteries, a battery-operated radio, water: I must have listened to that advice a hundred times on the radio. And I did (almost) nothing. I filled some water bottles and jugs with tap water. That was it.

We lost our power for five days. We were lucky, compared to friends and fellow citizens--we had running (cold) water, so we were able to stay at home and cook up the defrosting food from our freezer by gas flame. Our home was not flooded.

The day after the storm, while we still had gasoline in our car, we brought Bella and Ruby to stay with friends on the Upper West Side. I packed them clothes to stay one night. But when the power didn't come back, and the subways still weren't running, and the city was a giant parking lot of gridlock, we called our friends (this required me to walk several blocks and hold my phone at an angle to get reception--downtown was truly a dark zone) and asked if the girls could stay again. This was a hard decision to make. I wanted my kids close to me--it must be a parental instinct at a time of stress and worry. In retrospect, the worst thing about that storm, for me, was being separated from my girls. I knew it was better for them to be with their friends, where they were warm and well cared-for, but it was hard to not even be able to talk to them, and to explain why the plans kept changing. I missed them.

So now, as the wind picks up and they're saying on the radio that New Yorkers should avoid non-essential travel this afternoon, I wonder, are they talking about commuters, or are they talking about us?  Should I send Ruby to sleep at her friend's house, where she'll have a great time, or keep her home out of an instinct to be the mother bear and protect the cubs? If it weren't for Sandy, I probably wouldn't be worrying about this. I'd say, eh, it's just some snow. Trying to fight back the worry and post-traumatic stress memories of Sandy, and remember that good 'ol New York attitude.

Wishing everyone in the path of Nemo safety and warmth. May some good sledding and skiing come out of all of this.

Shabbat Shalom!

Snowy view from our window, February 2011

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