Many moons ago, His Lordship and I planned a vacation in sunny Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. At the start of last week, we saw a tropical cyclone looming in the Caribbean waters. Within less than 24 hours that cyclone became a tropical depression, tropical storm, and finally, a hurricane. By the end of last week, we were concerned with not only flying through the hurricane, but what would result of our fair city while we were away (if we got away, that is). I’ve been through a number of hurricanes. I found it to be an adventure when we were without power while I was in middle school, but I knew the severity of it when we had to walk to the nearest grocery store to pick up ice to keep my brother’s insulin cold (Hurricane Fran struck in the dead of summer). In college, we welcomed hurricanes as it encouraged binge drinking and class cancellations.
Last year, NYC was hit by a tropical storm. Luckily, there was minor damage and flooding. We had friends who were in evacuation zones stay at my apartment in Murray Hill. We surveyed the damage along the East River. As we looked at water coming out of the East River and onto the FDR at 35th street, I remember saying how fortunate we were that it was only a tropical storm. It reminded me of the freak tornado outbreak in Atlanta four years ago. What would happen if a natural disaster were to hit in a densely populated area like New York City?
We made it out of JFK International Saturday afternoon, and come to find out, were one of the last flights before the mayhem started. All things considered, our flight wasn’t so terrible. Yes, there were bumps. We flew directly over a hurricane, for chrissakes. But it wasn’t bad. We kept looking out the window at the behemoth of a storm. No kidding, it’s 200 miles wide. To our pilot, I shake your hand, sir. Thank you for giving me more faith in air travel.
We kept in contact with family and friends when our phones were able to reach wifi (which was only in the lobby). His Lordship and I have family in the Carolinas and the D.C. area, two of the first places to be hit. A bit of beach erosion happened to my parents, and lots of rain resulted in the D.C. area. My brother was on the back end side of the storm feeling the n’or easter snow.
Next up was Manhattan.
My heart broke when we saw clips on the news about residents in the Rockaways and Coney Island not taking the mandatory evacuation seriously—something I feared would happen after Irene.
“Yes,” I said, “Please go get necessary items in the case that your power goes out. It’s no picnic when you are stranded without food, water, and electricity.” I’m so happy my friends took heed in preparing themselves for the superstorm. And I’m very impressed with Governor Christie’s aggressiveness in mandatory evacuations up and down the New Jersey coast.
For whatever reason (His Lordship has his own theory), our hotel aired all of our local NYC news channels. We tracked the storm and were up to date with the latest information. We let friends know they could stay in our apartment while we were away. All of our friends above 34th street were lucky. Our friends/family below and in Jersey City/Hoboken, not so much. All of the worst happened. Loss of power, no mass transit for several days, civilians under water. Mass hysteria and havoc. Our offices have been closed through the whole week due to lack of power.
But as New Yorkers do, everyone comes together in trying times. I’m proud to live in a city such as this. My hearts go out to all of those greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy.
As for vacation, it was wonderful to get away for a few days even though our hearts were torn in half with our home going through the worst. I won’t do a normal wrap up to keep things at a minimum, but I will say that yes, there were eleventy billion cocktails, naps, and a few miles run at a very slow pace (in case you haven’t heard, the marathon is still happening).
Which brings me to my next topic: the New York City Marathon. Like many, I’m quite torn over this race. Should it be canceled? Probably. Could it be a great way to get New Yorkers together during these times? Probably. Would it cause a lot of problems to cancel such a large event? Probably. Should police officers, volunteers, and EMTs be spending their time helping those in need? Definitely. I don’t know what the right answer is to any of this because I don’t know what it’s like to put on a production as massive as the New York City Marathon. The only thing I do know is that bystanders shouldn’t boycott or protest any runners who choose to race on Sunday. This is their choice. None of them expected a hurricane to hit New York City a week prior. Life happens, and we move forward.
When we finally made it back to JFK, we saw teams of runners from various countries gathering to get cabs. I even witnessed a gentleman in the taxi line wolfing down a full loaf of bread. Through all the storms and backlash, they still made it in.
Regardless of everyone’s thoughts on this Sunday’s race, I’ll be out cheering the runners around the mile 23.5 marker. Move forward, and run hard.