Did you miss me? Sandy didn’t. So, why didn’t I leave? Why didn’t the people who drowned in their houses on Staten Island leave? Frankly, I think hysterical TV news coverage is at least partly to blame. It’s like the old fable about the boy who cried wolf. When the wolf finally showed up, nobody believed the kid. I understand that the news media have to say it might be bad because that’s better than saying, “Oops, that was bad,” but unless it is bad this time, nobody will listen next time. I do think, however that people will listen the next time a big storm heads this way.
I’ve lived through lots of mandatory evacuations before without leaving. I lived through this one too. I didn’t send my family to safety. I didn’t even move my cars although there are places near where I live where you should move your cars if it gets cloudy. Like all the other times, it turned out I didn’t have to, but Sandy was a one-of-a-kind storm and a lot of people who never evacuated before should have this time. Sandy’s winds weren’t sustained at hurricane force by the time she reached New York, but the flooding in Staten Island, downtown Manhattan and on Long Island was unprecedented. I don’t understand all the reasons, but she did come on shore at high tide and full moon and from the east, not the south. That last is important because the direction of the storm pushed more water into Long Island Sound, Great South Bay and New York Harbor than past experience would have suggested was possible. Plus Sandy moved more slowly than a lot of hurricanes and SHE WAS HUGE! About 800 miles wide instead of the 200 or so that’s more normal for a hurricane. Usually a hurricane blows through in a few hours and the weather afterwards is great. Sandy took quite a while to get through the area and the weather still isn’t wonderful. Winds didn’t die down to normal levels until five days after the storm.
People don’t move because they’ve been through what they think they’re facing before, because they don’t want to encourage looting, and because they think they can prevent or fix some of the things that could go wrong. I didn’t leave because, in addition to those things, conditions around my property are a little different than they are for most people around here. Fifteen feet above sea level isn’t a hill anyone would notice, but the Great South Bay knows it’s there. Also, no trees nearby are large enough to fall on my house. Most property south of Merrick Road in Nassau County, NY, is subject to flooding, mine isn’t. So, when the county executive says everyone south of Merrick Road, get out, I don’t. I realize he can’t specify the flood line street by street, and I think I’m an exception to that rule. You only had to try to get gas around here since Wednesday to know that almost everyone thinks they’re an exception to some rule.
I have a gas stove, a gas water heater and a wood stove big enough to heat my entire house. I’m now kind of low on firewood, but with all the trees down around here. I imagine there will be no shortage of firewood anytime soon. I don’t even own a generator although that may change. The house I live in is over 100 years old. I’ve lived in it for more than 20 years. and I’ve never been without power for more than a day. This time, it was four days without lights, central heat, phones, and Internet. Usually floods come within half a mile or so of my house. This time, it was two blocks. We have had two storms of the century in two years. If we get another one next year, I may actually heed the cries of wolf and evacuate.