Surviving Sandy

I tried, I really did, to write about something other than Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm, the Storm of the Century, that was to drive us to our knees. But after this near miss with yet another apocalypse, I could think of little else. The end was nigh, and we’re still here. Isn’t that worth a giggle or two?

Generally, I avoid media reports about storms. The breathless yammering about all that could go wrong is wearying. Whatever good such crisis-mongering may do for television ratings, it does nothing but distract: try running a law office when your employees are worried about which militia to join when civilization crumbles.

So when I heard Sandy was coming, I sighed. "Here we go again," I thought.

Then I let my guard down. My wife turned on the television as I rode an exercise bike. There it was. Colorful graphics. Breathless descriptions. Preparedness alerts. Advice on what to do, what to expect, and how to survive this the mother of all storms.

Within an hour, I had bought into the drama of the big event: the television coverage was like watching a movie trailer for a melodrama in which I was to play the starring role. Bring on the apocalypse! Like Robinson Crusoe, I was ready to stand alone to face the elements.

We stockpiled enough food and water to usher in a new medieval darkness. I wondered whether it was time to dust off an old Latin text, to prepare a new monastery to preserve learning amid the centuries of darkness to come.

Then the winds came. They howled. They bent the trees in the fields surrounding our home. We heard big things go clunk against the roof. A wall of sliding glass doors on a porch was blown in, the windows shattering. We lost power for several hours, and then sat as the lights flickered all evening. As a precaution, we moved a mattress into the kitchen, and slept in a spot we figured would be well away from any other windows likely to be blown in. Hour by hour we were surviving. It felt good.

All was calm the next morning. We walked down to the road expecting to see downed trees – just a few branches. We expected to see flooding – just a few puddles. The radio reported the a road or two near my office was closed, but I made it into the office just fine. We had power at home, in the office, and I was online and connected to the larger world.

We got lucky out my way. I know the luck was not shared by others. I heard about friends’ homes ruined by flooding, and power outages were everywhere. We live out of the way on a hill. We lose power on sunny days. Why were we so lucky this time? Our good fortune in Sandy had me prepared to vote for CL&P for president. Always a contrarian, I survived the Frankenstorm with hardly a scratch.

The best thing about Sandy is that it shut down political campaigns. For a day or two we were spared the chatter of the politicos crooning for our vote. All those brave individualists on the right carping about how big government kills the American spirit were cowering under their beds, hoping the first responders would arrive in time to supply some fresh diapers. And if that didn’t happen? Why, blame Obama! Leadership is what we need!

I watched the gathering storm on television harboring something like hope for a fresh beginning. Isn’t that what all of our fantasies about the apocalypse come to – sort of like a cultural declaration of bankruptcy, and then, salvaging what’s best, a new start? Blow, winds, howl; wipe clean the slate; drive both parties, and their noisy rhetoric, off the continent. The storm was an occupying force.

All the political noise was drowned out for a couple of blessed days. Thank you, Sandy. And thanks, too, for sparing my family the pain you inflicted on so many others.

Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.


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