Remember that song by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, ‘Come on Eileen’? Well I can’t help humming the chorus, with a small substitute… ‘Come on Irene.’ We’ve ‘survived’ days of advanced warning, and a wealth of information on the alerts and storm category, how hard the winds will be (stick in our zipcode 10044 to see), and what New York City has ordered. It’s truly a remarkable early warning system, and an amazing orchestration of local government.
I myself am complicit in this information wave, as business continuity is a part of my work protfolio.
So, we find ourselves well prepared. Our apartment now contains the contents of our balcony — which, considering New York apartments are now necessarily large, means we are cozying up to our bicycles and potted herbs. I bet we’ll be feeling cosier once the hurricane hits and we have to have our blinds down too! (They help to block flying glass and debris, although as the hurricane has weakened, it seems we’ll be more concerned about flooding, and whether that affects the electrical systems in our building.)
As a South African, I’m reminded of a time many years ago when people stockpiled food, water and batteries… in case. And of Y2K. And now we find ourselves laying in provisions of granola bars, peanut butter, gallons of water and one can of baked beans. We have our ‘To go’ bags at the ready, containing cash, IDs, food, water, whistles (actually Calvin’s!), batteries, torches and toilet paper. Later we’ll be filling up our baths so that we’ll have water to flush the loo if the electricity goes out. And yes, our fridge and freezer are at maximum freeziness to keep things fresh for the same power contingency.
Just to be sure we’re all as prepared as we can be, we’ve enjoyed a series of non-stop automated calls since 8am to check. Each time, every phone in our household – that would be all four of them between two adults – rings simultaneously. “Press 1 to confirm” some preparedness action. We’re left in no doubt that our building management loves us, or at least our monthly rent check.
And now we wait. We don’t have the dizzy activity of our Zone A friends, who are among 370,000 people under mandatory evacuation. We’re in zone B, not much above sea level — some 8 feet — but it would take more of a storm surge for us to be under water. Although I just learned from a friend in Connecticut that the surge will be higher than normal because there is a new moon with naturally higher tides. And from my mom-in-law in Ohio that the most recent hurricane update mentions a surge up the East River, and yes, we are on a wee island in the middle of that river.