but what do we do?
at the far end of queens, ny, is the narrowest of spits of land, connected to the rest of us by two bridges and a swampy fen almost 10 miles from its furthest end. habitually at the head of every list of evacuation locations for any storm, residents have had frequent experience being told to leave, even as recently as irene last year, without any ultimate purpose in the end. enter sandy.
abc news reporters keturah gray and jim dubreuil deployed to breezy point to cover such "holdouts" and to bunk in with jim's family for the duration. they timed their arrival to be among the last allowed over the marine parkway bridge before it closed, and they even took a tour of the neighborhood from a 30-year-old native who explained the compelling urge to stick with ones home, especially having "proved" through irene a year ago that warnings can be exaggerated.
you can read keturah's and jim's blog account here.
most dramatic to me was jim's observation that the receding tide enabled trudging through waist-deep water to escape around the blaze that engulfed block after block of residential homes, where even an hour or two earlier it would have been chin-high, and perhaps impossible to make it out against the current. imagine the choice between being burned alive, or being washed out to sea during a hurricane...
it was miraculous, despite over 100 of those homes being burned to the waterline, that no casualties have been reported. i am chilled to realize that it would be impossible to know this quickly, and that more will be learned about this grim possibility over the coming hours and days. but i think about living as i do in the residential equivalent of breezy point (the top floor) of my downtown mill building aka deadly firetrap, and the frequency of evacuation alarms that are sounded here--the most recent being just the other day during the hurricane...
i have contemplated the home i have here, and the emotional importance of everything in it. i have, by grim "luck" of my divorce, learned all too acutely the irreplaceable nature of family, and as important as all the "stuff" here is to me--the photographs of my children, and the other fleeting mementos of my life--i daily try to repeat the mantra of what is really important and irreplaceable here. the truth is--absolutely nothing.
i walked downstairs during the alarm on monday as i always do, and i met all my neighbors likewise home for the day. at least i hope i met all my neighbors likewise home for the day--it would trouble me greatly to think that the existence of our ability to warn might wear down patience to the point where warnings could become ignored. i felt sick as a dog, and at my least eager to stand out in a driving rainstorm, but i mostly felt the pull of better habit trying to overcome stubborn and stupid laziness. it's always a tug of war, that one, isn't it...
today, i'm looking at the photographs of the homes all lost on breezy point this week, and i am thinking only of my children and my family and all those whom i love. when it's time to get out, it's time to get out. nothing needs to come along. there will always be another place to stay. i will miss my guitars and my ukuleles and my cars. i've worked so long and saved so hard to have them... i will mourn the loss of the photographs and mementos most of all. but i will always look forward to being able to hug my children and my family and all those whom i love again, and i hope that they will take as good care of the love i feel for them as i know it is my best choice to always take good care of the love they feel for me. and get out while the getting is easy.
someday i'll tell you all about business school and "catastrophe risk". many folks could use the refresher.
here's hoping that you and all yours are safe today and every day. see you at the evacuation center.