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November 07, 2012

Life Goes On


There's really nothing funny about what happened. My brother-in-law's daughter lost her house in the Rockaways -- the water came in through the second story windows. They have two small kids. Breezy Point, where so many of our Brooklyn buddies live, lost 400 homes – 100 to fire. Our family spends every Mother's Day there. My 92 year-old mother tried to ride it out without power . . . just a few blocks from Gerritsen Beach. The water, incredibly, crossed Avenue U and came halfway up our block, stopping right before it reached her house. A poor soul lost her life when she drowned walking her dog in Montauk. Speculation is the dog got caught in a wave and she tried to save him, but we'll never know.

Dog Sense

And so it came to pass that our Whippet, Garcia, had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the hurricane. Karen wanted to walk him on the street. I told her she was crazy. I analyzed the situation and deduced the area of least exposure would be behind the western side of the house. Since the wind was coming out of the east, that would mean the house would block the falling trees and flying limbs and shield us from harm. Naturally, being the manly man I am, I went out despite Karen's insistence that she should go. (I should also point out since the electric and cable were out, I had nothing better to do.)

The dog, of course, has instincts far beyond what humans have. Even though he is deaf he realized instinctively that the outdoors was fit for no man or beast. We went behind the house – me pulling him every inch – he urinated on his front paw, turned around, and pulled me back to the house. It took all of 10 seconds. Moments later I heard a loud thud but it was dark and I didn't see anything untoward. The next day I saw the copper chimney top on the ground. It would have killed me.

You see, there was one flaw in my logic. Yes, technically speaking, the west side of the house was the safest. But since the wind was coming out of the east, anything from the roof would blow off the west side.

Ok, so I'm no Einstein, but Garcia may be.

Major Disturbance

The lights were out, the house was cold. I could hear the howling – it was impossible to escape. It seemed it would go on forever, but every excruciating hour was terror filled.

The rage was palpable; the frenzy unmistakable.

I felt panic set in: perhaps I should make a run for it – flee to a safe haven. The truth was, though, there was nowhere to go. I had to ride out the storm and stand strong against the unrelenting pressure.

Unleashed, she was ferocious indeed. It was if the darkness emboldened her during the terror filled nights.

Finally, after two days, the power came back on, the cable came back on, and we were able to take hot showers and enjoy a good meal. Things got back to normal. But I will never forget Hurricane Karen.

Words To Ponder

I had a nice chat with Bridgehampton's Richard Hendrickson, a cooperative observer for the National Weather Service, after the storm. "I'm a farmer who's been reporting the temperature since 1930," he reminded. Hendrickson has seen all of the big ones. "This one wasn't anything like the Hurricane of 1938," he said of the hurricane (Sandy, not Karen). "I went to bed and slept through this one," he said with a laugh.

And then his tone got serious. Our planet is going through a tragic transformation. "The temperature is rising. The Artic and Antarctica are getting warner. The sea is rising – there is no place for the water to go," he said. Except on us.

"Because of global warming I think we are in for a lot more intense weather," he warned.

To me that means more batteries. More charcoal, more potable water. Karen's solution can be summed up in one word: "salami." Someone convinced her salami doesn't have to be refrigerated – I find this hard to believe, but the more pertinent question is how long a human can live on salami alone.

Prosciutto would be another matter entirely.

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