Chicken dance with Sandy

Posted on October 31, 2012
Filed Under Commentary, Travel | 1 Comment

Michelle and I, heading for Florida, wound up on the edge of, and then touring, some of the area hit by the confluence of Hurricane Sandy and another storm moving in from the west.

We got to Windsor Locks, near Hartford, on Sunday, October 28, before we learned that the storm was building and turning inland. Being life-loving cowards, we hunkered down in a Homewood Suites there and stocked up on water, food, wine and Scotch the day before it hit. We probably could have made it to Virginia on Monday, before the storm hit land late that night but we didn’t know that at the time. We stayed put on Monday.

There was a lot of damage around us but none on our block. The hotel did not even lose power.

It was, as always amusing that the government, schools, airports, transit systems, companies and even the air force base were shut down but the restaurants and bars stayed open. The old Russian saying, “The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully,” is still accurate.

Another cliche was omnipresent. All the media had reporters out, in areas where no non-essential personnel should be, doing the standard wind and water shots. I spent my life in the business and I still don’t know if we have to do these things and if anyone cares.

I think the Blue Collar Tour comedian, Ron White, had the best story about that years ago. He said he saw a guy in Florida telling a reporter he was extremely fit and was going to tie himself to a tree and watch the hurricane bearing down on his part of Florida.

“He just don’t get it,” he said. “It ain’t THAT the wind is blowin’. It’s WHUT the wind is blowin’. If it hits you with a Volvo, it ain’t gonna matter that much how many sit ups you did this mornin’.”

The tragic proof of that is the woman who was killed by a windblown sign in Toronto in weather that she had no reason to believe was so serious.

We set out again Tuesday staying north, and heading well west of the coast, and got to Fredericksburg, VA, last night. We saw tremendous devastation and, when we cut across from 84 to 81, got blocked twice by fallen trees and had to turn back and detour. Connecticut, inland New Jersey and upper New York states are all usually especially beautiful in autumn and the communities are rural and super wealthy. It was sad to see 200-year-old trees smashed into roofs of stone mansions.

We were astonished at how quickly and massively the states and municipalities and power companies got into action. We saw hundreds and hundreds of workers clearing trees from roads and properties, public and private. Power outages were being quickly restored and we saw convoys of power company trucks on the scene and approaching from all directions. Knowing what was coming, the states had acquired help from other states in advance and had them already on the scene when the storm hit.

People like to criticize political leaders and heads of bureaucracies but I must say we were impressed with what we heard and saw and angered by the behaviour of some people. As the Connecticut governor pointed out, people who refuse to evacuate when ordered to wind up endangering first responders and consuming time and resources those emergency workers could put to better use. He cited one case from last year’s Irene. A guy who refused to evacuate had his house badly flooded and had to move up to the second floor. He could see higher ground and decided to swim for it. He climbed out the window onto his roof and tried to pull his dog out with him. The dog put up a spirited and determined resistance. The guy gave up, stayed put and was rescued. The governor said that it is frustrating when some citizens’ dogs have more sense than their owners.

As for ourselves, being over-cautious made our storm experience more boring than it might have been but certainly a lot more comfortable.

On we go!                                                                                            DAC


One Response to “Chicken dance with Sandy”

  1. shirleycaldwell on December 30th, 2012 9:56 am

    Still a great story teller, Dave. Enjoy your site.

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