Home Is Where the Heart Is
A few weeks ago our West Coast family moved from Los Angeles to New York.
They rented a place in Greenwich, Conn., until they could locate a more permanent home in the area. Fortunately, the place they rented was on high ground, so they were pretty sure they would be safe when they heard about Hurricane Sandy and the likelihood that it would envelop the Northeast with high tides, wind and rain.
Still, there was uncertainty, and deciding to be safe rather than sorry, they reserved rooms at the nearby Hyatt and hunkered down to ride out the biggest storm in recorded history. I'm glad they did!
They phoned us every evening to assure us they were OK. We were glued to the TV, watching the unbelievable events transpiring in the entire Northeastern United States. Being a Carolinian, I know the havoc a hurricane can wreak. I've had the unfortunate experience of living through a few of them and can tell you without reservation that they are frightening beyond belief!
My wife and I watched as the tide and surge swept away the 2,000-foot long Atlantic City Boardwalk. Cars were floated away in turbulent waters that seemed to be without end. Tunnels in New York City were flooded. The barriers designed to prevent water from entering the subways were breached. Power lines and trees were destroyed, and more than 100 homes were burned to the ground in fires fueled by high winds, impossible to control because firemen could not get to them.
The New York Stock Exchange was closed on account of weather for two days for the first time its history. It seemed there was no end to what we were witnessing.
And then, to make matters worse, a blizzard struck West Virginia, dumping two feet of snow on Charleston. Boone, closer to home, got nine inches of wet, heavy snow along with Gatlinburg, Tenn. Farther west, high tides from Lake Erie smashed into shore at Cleveland. Increasingly alarmed, we watched reports from the news describing the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Sandy over thousands of miles along the Eastern Seaboard and as far west as Cleveland.
And so Pat and I waited expectantly for our son to call often to let us know he and his family were safe. We were glad he had decided to move to the Hyatt. The hotel had emergency lighting and facilities for preparing food for those lucky enough to be staying there. Our two granddaughters, Hollis and Laurel, were oblivious to the threat posed by Sandy. As long as their mom and dad were nearby, they were not concerned about temporary darkness and high winds. They felt safe. And as it turned out, they were.
So now, Hurricane Sandy has passed, but the destruction caused by it is evident for all to see.
I lived in Connecticut for 11 years and commuted into New York. Fortunately, I never experienced anything like Sandy.
Sure, there was cold weather, and sometimes the switches froze and trains were temporarily delayed. We suffered the usual snow and ice, but Sandy made our discomfort seem infantile by comparison.
But one thing you can be certain of. The people of New York and New Jersey will survive this. They will rebuild, and they will continue to be the confident, resilient people I interfaced with while I lived there.
I can't close this column without mentioning a comment my granddaughter made at breakfast while at the hotel. She's almost 4.
She looked at her father and said, "Dad, can we go home now? I'm a California girl."
That says a lot, doesn't it?
Robey Howard is a local freelance writer.
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