TIO ON THE ROAD: SANDY, YOU'VE MADE A MESS

Sus and I have done it again: Just over eleven years ago, we arrived at her parents’ new apartment in Hackensack, NJ, to help them move in. On September 10.

Now we have just returned from a two-week trip to Europe with the idea of spending some time with her mother before returning to Telluride. This time it’s Sandy. Hurricane Sandy. We had plenty of time to move plants and outdoor furniture in from the 9th floor balcony (the same one from which we watched the collapse of the twin towers in 2001). We haven’t had to deal with the frustration and anger of lining up for hours for gas, as my sister-in-law saw the gas gauge at 1/2 and stopped to fill the tank well before the event. We also had lots of batteries, lots of drinking water and enough food to get through for several days.

In the days before Sandy came ashore several miles south of Hackensack we listened to the reports of damage done in Jamaica and Cuba and along the Eastern Seaboard. We also paid a lot of attention to the forecasts of the intensity of the storm, the talk of another “perfect storm” as Sandy met up with a fast-moving system roaring across the country, accentuated by the full moon which meant the highest tides of the month.

I fantasized about the hurricane veering northeast along the Gulf Stream, but eventually Sandy did what the forecasters had predicted and made a hard left turn, coming ashore near Delaware Bay.

By Monday night Sandy was venting her fury on coastal New Jersey, New York harbor, all the low-lying areas along any tidal water, flooding subways and highway tunnels, knocking down big trees that in turn took out power lines and blocked streets.

That night I opened the sliding glass door to the balcony with difficulty to re-latch the screen slider that was banging back and forth. The scream of the wind and the pressure on the door were reminders of what people more directly affected were going through.

Now it’s five days later. The roads in our area are mostly clear, though on my morning run today I took a few photos of the power lines and trees down that still block a major intersection a half-mile from this apartment. And we were among the lucky ones: our electricity never went out, our garage never flooded. Others are not so lucky. We hear about people still without light and heat, people who have lost their homes, people who have lost family members.

It is heartening to see the selflessness being exhibited by many we have encountered, the patience in the face of adversity. It is also sad to see some who can only see how everything is affecting them, getting angry at anything that gets in their way. I keep thinking: Get used to it. We have ignored the consequences of loading our atmosphere with carbon for too long. It’s time to consider how to manage the outcome. And we’d better do it with love and humanity, rather than revert to the law of the jungle.

Climate change is real. I have seen it.

One Response

  1. Cynthia Hansen Zehm says:

    Hey, Clint. Thanks for the up-to-the-minute report. My heart and prayers are with you and all back East. Take care. cz***