As a native Long Islander, I was able to witness firsthand the destructive Hurricane Sandy on Monday. Fortunately, my friends and family all emerged from the storm unscathed and without any major damage to their home. Many others were not so lucky.
New Yorkers have had their share of storm scares before in the past but NOTHING like this. We have our yearly nor’easters, blizzards and thunderstorms. There has even been the occasional tropical storm.
In the days leading up to any big storm there is always that group of people who take lots of precautions. They stock up on batteries and canned food and buy out Home Depot. They buy all the bottled water and create lines at the gas stations. Those people make it impossible to run any errand the few days prior.
Then you have the other group of people that mock those cautious people. You walk into any supermarket before a big storm and you’ll likely hear someone make a comment in jest, like “Haven’t you people ever seen a storm before?” Or “Is the apocalypse coming or something?” I even cracked a joke at those type people on this blog before.
More often than not, those people were right. The major blizzard would end up being just a light dusting and the big summer storm would weaken by the time it reached us. Those “overly-cautious” people would be left with a cabinet full of unused batteries and canned soup.
That was the case with Hurricane Irene in 2011. The storm was hyped for days leading up to it. Though it did cause some serious damage, considering the way it was hyped, it turned out to be fairly mild. And I think that it was Irene that made New Yorkers a little cocky this time around. We thought Sandy would be just another one of these storms. It might even turn into a fun night. We’d hunker down at a friend’s house, get drunk and play Monopoly until it passed. Then we’d come out the next morning and enjoy an off day from work or school.
Just hours before the storm on October 29 hit its hardest, News 12 was interviewing residents of Long Beach, (one of my favorite Long Island spots) who were hanging out on the boardwalk and didn’t seem worried at all. Now look at it.
I, myself, was not prepared for this storm. I didn’t have enough food, enough batteries or enough gas. I didn’t pack an emergency kit or have enough bottled water. I had no generator.
And at around 6 p.m. Eastern time that day, it became pretty apparent to me and just about everyone in this area, that this was no joke. This was not just another overhyped storm.
As I looked outside my window at my large oak tree swaying violently throughout the night, I thought it was only a matter of time before it came crashing down into my living room. I started frantically packing a bag in the event we had to run out of there at any moment. Fortunately, that never happened. Mr. and Mrs. Sacks, and our cat, are perfectly fine.
In the aftermath and up until hours before writing this post, we were living like peasants. We had no heat, no hot water and no electricity. In some areas, people couldn’t even use their toilets or drink water. Others are fighting each other just to get gasoline. We were woefully unprepared. Many people, like me, have just been inconvenienced for a few days. Others suffered far worse consequences.
From now on, I will not take Mother Nature lightly. When the next big storm is hyped on the Weather Channel, I will be in that new group of people who is cleaning out the C batteries on the shelf and buying all the Progresso Soup. If I’m told to leave, I am leaving. It’s better to be safe than sorry. And I recommend you do the same.
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