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Irene, Five Days in Freeport September 8, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, DVD, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.

After 26 years of barely missing hurricanes, or at least direct hits, Long Island’s luck ran out last weekend.

On a Friday afternoon, September 27, 1985, Hurricane Gloria, a fast-moving Category 2, made landfall near Long Beach.  25 years and 11 months later, it was Irene’s turn.  Though Hurricane Irene was barely a Category 1 when it made landfall on Coney Island last Sunday morning (immediately weakening to a tropical storm), it wasn’t moving as fast as Gloria and it came during high tide rather than low tide.  The south shore of Long Island got pounded.  Over 500,000 Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) customers, including myself, were without power at the height of the storm.  Either giant limbs or uprooted trees fell on power lines or transformers caught fire.  I lost power at 1:30 AM Sunday because of the latter.  (Also, the sub-station in Plainedge that we were linked to was badly damaged.)

I prepared my bedroom for the worst by covering up some belongings, including CDs, and putting them on the floor:

I spent Saturday night and much of Sunday in the basement and on the main floor, only going to the top floor in the afternoon to take a [cold!] shower.  While preparing my room on Saturday, I found a lucky rabbit’s foot.  I kept it close by or in my shorts pocket.

I don’t know if the rabbit’s foot was the cause, but our house was spared.  The only damage for us was smaller branches and twigs, and leaves falling around the house.  I took these pictures Monday morning in the front and back yards under a partly-to-mostly sunny sky:

I put everything I had put on the floor back where they were before on Sunday night.  This picture was also taken Monday morning:

More pics from Monday near my house:

I stayed home without power until Monday afternoon when a family friend in Freeport was nice enough to let me stay with them until power was restored at my house.  Villages like Freeport that have their own utilities didn’t lose power for long.  If only that were the case for LIPA customers.  Some didn’t get it back until early this week.  I got it back 3:30 PM Friday.  The family friend was without FiOS (for reasons I won’t get into), so I was stuck with radio, wireless internet (on my laptop), and mobile web (on my cell phone).  I also passed the time by going for walks, listening to music on my iPod, and playing video games.  I hadn’t played Game Boy or Game Boy Advance games in ages until last week.  I brought my camera on one of those walks and stopped by my late grandparents’ old house and Cow Meadow Park (swatting mosquitoes along the way):

Before getting to the old house and Cow Meadow, I saw a sad sight walking up the block where the friend lives.  Curbs on both sides of the street had flood-damaged carpeting, couches, and appliances waiting to be picked up.  I used to live in southwest Freeport.  So, I know what it’s like to get flooding from the bay in the bottom floor of the house.  I got that during the aforementioned Gloria, and Nor’easters in December 1992 and March 1993.  Within months of those last two storms, I had moved to a part of Wantagh that’s a few miles inland.

Back at the friend’s house, she had the complete run of I Love Lucy on DVD.  I got into that show years ago when it was on Nick at Nite.  My love for it was rekindled.  I watched the latter seasons while the friend had them on.

The ride home late Friday afternoon was great.  I knew I’d be returning home to electricity and cable, albeit with an empty refrigerator.  Before leaving, I thanked the family friend for putting up with me for five days.  I returned the favor this Tuesday when I stayed at her house while she was at work to be present for a Cablevision technician to install their services–iO, Optimum Online, Optimum Voice–in place of Verizon’s–phone, FiOS internet, FiOS TV.

Three footnotes:
1. As I type this post, Hurricane Katia is about to turn northeast and move away from the U.S. East Coast.  Good.
2. There were plenty of columns and blog posts in Irene’s aftermath that downplayed the storm and/or reprimanding the media for overhyping it.  Many media did overhype it, but damage is damage.  Downed trees are nothing compared to massive flo0ding, whether from storm surge or rivers overflowing from nonstop rain.  Residents of New Jersey, Eastern New York State, and Vermont are among those that got the latter.  And the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee in the last few days have only added to the flooding.
3. I stumbled upon a blog post that offers the Washington, D.C. area perspective.  It’s written by freelance writer Kristine Meldrum Denholm: How I’ve dodged the demise of the east coast, part II: Goodnight, Irene.  There was minimal damage in her neighborhood and she never lost power.  Kristine is not alone.  My neighbors two houses to the west of me never lost power, neither did my piano teacher in Freeport.
4. Yet another link: Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean summed up Irene at her blog last Monday.

9/27 UPDATE: It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will mark one month since Irene made landfall here.  And as I noted at the top, Hurricane Gloria whizzed (compared to the slower Irene) through Long Island 26 years ago today.  Since I wrote this post a few weeks ago, a few more Atlantic tropical cyclones have formed and none have directly impacted the U.S.  (Knock on wood.)  In checking the August archives at the website Johnny Dollar’s Place, I found an interview John Gibson did with Janice Dean on his Fox News Radio show.  It took place on August 29, the day after landfall:

12/30 UPDATE: Irene was the #1 tri-state area news story in WCBS 880’s countdown of the top 11 stories of 2011:

… But Sunday morning, August 28, we knew the caution was called for.

Irene swept ashore in Brigantine, battered New Jersey, then crossed Coney Island at 9 a.m. on a path for New England.

Throughout its path, Irene caused widespread destruction, left millions without power and killed 56 people.

“We are now into day three of no electricity for hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders,” reported WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. …

Even with all that Irene turned out not to have been a hurricane when it hit our area.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t a hurricane.  It was Tropical Storm Irene.  It might as well have been a category 1 hurricane because it moved slow enough to cause the same amount of damage.

You can read and listen to the rest here.



1. Kristine - September 12, 2011

hi Mike! Thank you for the mention. It seems you had a similar experience dodging the hurricane. I still can’t believe we dodged it, after being in an earthquake that same week. Some people weren’t so lucky, and my heart just goes out to all those flooding victims and all the people who lost their homes. It is so devastating for them. I can’t believe we were so lucky here in Northern Virginia. Even though my blog was a humorous one about how we dodged it, I know so many weren’t as lucky and there is nothing humorous in that. I also feel like my luck had to have run out and that I’m sure the next bad storm will hit us! Take care Mike!

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