Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane in Brooklyn

Tornado, earthquake, a tsunami if you count the one that came from Japan to my relatives on the Big Island, and now a hurricane. This is shaping up to be a really weird year for Big Island Rachel. No wonder church attendance was so good at the Catholic church on Court Street today.

Being from Hawaii, I have a Girl Scout badge in Hurricane Preparedness--Survival Camp at Kilohana, 1997--and good thing, too, because my little perfectly-Rachel-sized apartment on the East River ended up being in the evacuation zone. My Daddio left me a voicemail AND sent an email telling me to head for the hills and "don't do that family thing where we say, 'What is this strom you speak of, I can handle it!'" It was sound advice from the parental unit to the latest generation of that family the other kids were warned never to play with. I confess that I did have a passing fancy to stay in my apartment just to see if I could handle it, but when Daddio tells me to get out, I know it's serious.

Fortunately, me Mum was in town and staying a few blocks inland out of the flood zone, so I spent the night with her after hurricane proofing my apartment. Here is my "go-bag." Sure, it has all the usual stuff: passport, computer, three books, two graphic novels, five comic books (my worst nightmare is being stuck on a deserted island with nothing to read), blankets, clothes. I also brought Spam, couscous, my teddy bear (seen squashed up against the plastic bag) a chocolate donut that has been in my cupboard for so long it qualifies as a scientific experiment, and candles, except the only candles I had were tiny little Chanukah candles, so I ended up having to bring my menorah, too, since it was the only candle holder that would fit them. And of course, you can see my blue rubber boots there. A girl on the street yelled, "A shout-out to all my sisters rocking the boots and shorts!" I was the height of fashion that day, even without a bra.

I hung up my heavy winter curtains and covered the body--I mean, all of my clothes with my winter down comforter. If I'd been more clever about it, I would have simply lifted the closet rod off the wall with all the clothes still on it, but as you can see by the bare rod resting on the heap, that eminently practical idea didn't occur to me until it was too late. I figured that if the worst did happen and my windows burst apart in the gale like deadly flowers of glass and mayhem, all my expensive and fancy clothes (not always correlated, my fanciest gown was only $10 at the Hilo second-hand store) would have a modicum of protection.

I also filled up the bathtub. I got to impress a lot of people at work on Friday by informing them that the bathtub full of water, a standard preventative measure when a hurricane is bearing down on you, was not really for drinking, but rather for flushing the toilet in the event that the electricity went out and the toilet couldn't pump water into the tank. For reasons unknown to me, New York City water is a gentle shade of teal. I'm not sure if this picture really captures that soothing, sea-like hue, but trust me, that shit is teal.Saturday night was spent on the stoop of Mum's sublet, drinking wine and singing all the songs we used to sing when she drove me to high school in the morning. I think I slept through the actual hurricane, which didn't pass over us until 2 or 3 in the morning. It passed quickly and had downgraded to a mere tropical storm by that time anyway, but Mum said the winds still sounded like a freight train as they roared through.This morning, we went to inspect the apartment. The windows are all unbroken, but two of the three windows had leaked and there were a few puddles on the floor. The curtains in the bedroom were so heavy with water they'd pulled the curtain rod down. But underneath the down comforter, the body--I mean, my fancy clothes were bone dry. Everything is coming up Milhouse. Thanks, Girl Scouts of America!

And the bathtub? Totally empty. I always suspected that my bathtub plug was slightly defective. Oh, well. If there had been serious enough flooding that the power had gone out (all New York City power lines are buried in the ground), my riverside apartment would have had sewage and river water backing up into the pipes, and flushing the toilet would have been an exercise in futility. Rank, rotting futility.

Here are some tree branches that fell over. Fellow curious Brooklynites for scale. So long, Irene. Don't let the doorknob hit ya where the door should've bit ya.

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