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DAY 7 - AFTERMATH OF HURRICANE SANDY



To preface, I once dated a guy named Sandy, a true shithead. Quite soon in our relationship he demonstrated his rage and violence and I barely escaped intact. In this vein, the hurricane was aptly named, a real motherfucking veritable disaster leaving quite an aftermath.
Things settled down a few days afterwards in my backwoods. Have to admit, although I'm freezing, I'm not suffering. I count myself lucky as I'm quite aware there are people rendered homeless by this storm. At least I've my home and no damage inside.

My bone of contention was the power lines dangling on the streets that trapped me from leaving home. As well as my neighbors. Once NYSEG removed the power lines from my street, several neighbors who I rarely interacted with came up to me. "Thank you," they said. "We were trapped and worried about our children."

"I did nothing."

"Evidently, you did." Although strangers, these people knew about my big mouth. That's a reputation that seems to precede me. "NYSEG told us there were no downed power lines and that we have electricity."

"If I had power, I would've let you know and helped you out." Then, I realized, how? We turned around and stared at the tree on top of my utility shed, bisecting my property. I shrugged, "Anyhow, we're not supposed to get any power until Wednesday, November 7."  

"Now that I can drive outta here, I'm taking the family to a friend's," said one fellow. Everyone walked away.

Moments later, a wonderful fellow showed up to chainsaw the tree from my utility shed. I spotted him staring, slack-jawed.

"That's some tree," he said.

"Didn't I tell you a tree fell on it?"

He gulped. "That's some tree!"

More than likely, he thought I exaggerated the size. "It ain't no sapling," I stated. The tree was well over a hundred fifty feet long. I took several pictures and it doesn't look as impressive as in real life. Now you know how rustic I live. {Thoreau in Walden, right? he he he}



Like a trooper, he got up on the roof and sawed almost all of the tree off. Up to the part that's leaning on the shed, incrementally crushing it to oblivion.

"Stop!" I shrieked.

"Why?" he asked.

I know fatigue. I'm well acquainted. I don't care how strong a person is, but when sweat's coming down in buckets, when breath is labored and when the person's shaking, I know they had enough. Besides, he's wielding a giant chainsaw and I saw an accident in the making.

"I really appreciate what you're doing. How about finishing the job in a few days?"

Neglected to mention I'm not very good at CPR and failed all the courses given gratis at most jobs I had. Relieved that I saved him face, he walked back to the road to place the chainsaw in his truck. At the same time, the professional tree cutters for NYSEG arrived up at the road to cut down the massive tree to the left of my house which fell on power lines. I went over for a sec to grub a cigarette, and the guys said, "Hey, we were watching that guy cut down the tree on top of your house. He did a terrific job!"

"I'll let him know."

"Good thing he stopped when he did. He looked exhausted."

That night, I used the small gas propane heater my girlfriend lent, but people kept sending me messages on FB threatening asphyxiation or worse, I'll blow myself up. They succeeded in getting me scared, so I turned it off and burrowed in the nest created on my living room sofa made of a fleece blanket and 2 down quilts. A few days' prior, I purchased a Mix 'n Match set of fluffy non-porous, cheap pjs at Walmart. The best purchase! Those acrylic clothes kept me nice and warm. Okay, around 3am, I woke up in a sweat, broiling alive. Yet, I prefer broiling over freezing.

The following days I hung out at my friend's bakery, using their wireless. Late afternoons and early evenings, at the fire department across the lake. In a small community with two fire departments, the differences are astonishing!

The one closest to me, the one I rely on in case of fire, an eight minute walk, has the smallest of amenities for situations like Hurricane Sandy. Which is kinda funny when you think about it, for a rural town that has frequent storms, floods and power outages. I felt like a beggar asking to plug in my iphone and computer. I know almost all the volunteers and LIKE them! They offered coffee, but shooed me out of the kitchen in case I eat anything there. I had to wait for them to set up the room with chairs and tables. And watched a guy begrudgingly cook food for the seniors from the house next door who lost all power.

Then, I discovered the fire department across the lake, three times the size of this one. Late Thursday night, I lost feeling in my left hand and foot. At first, I thought it was my heart (yes, the perpetual hypochondriac), but needed to get warm to see. I drove by my local fire department, but it appeared shut down. Instead, I drove to the other and it was open! There were several volunteers inside who I didn't know. "Are you hungry?" they asked when I entered. "Do you need a shower? Do you want to watch tv? Do you need to recharge batteries? We have a cot upstairs. We also have internet."

WHOA.

During the past several days, when I wasn't hanging out in fire departments or at The Bake House, I relied on my iphone to plug into my email, FB and twitter accounts to contact people and respond to those worried about me. Service was intermittent and I missed quite a few overseas calls from worried friends. Now, fully plugged in at the fire department, I dallied on FB.

I like FB. At times. It's one way to know how others in my community fare. This rural community is far-flung and wide-spread. When I blog about neighbors, that term's loosely used: neighbor could be 10' away or 50 miles away. Up here, we're all neighbors.

At any rate, several neighbors posted comments about their power status. Mild, mind you. Very mild, given NYSEG's been inconsistent, to the point of notifying people in their darkened homes they've had power restored for days. It's that WTF moment. Also, let's be real, when you hit 6 days without power, you tend to get irate. Still, the comments on FB, given the circumstances, have been remarkably civil.

Let me point out here I've made the acquaintance of several NYSEG workers during my sojourns at the fire department. They stop off to wolf down some food before they venture back in the cold. It became increasingly evident the problem with NYSEG is they're understaffed. And the infrastructure hasn't been updated for way too long. Since my initial argument with a batch of NYSEG guys which compelled them to check out my house to discover I wasn't full of shit, I haven't confronted them since. Because I'm ok. I'm freezing, I may smell, but the natural oils in my hair have been restored. It turns out I overwash my hair.

Getting back to the aftermath of the storm, I'm reeling by some inane FB comments by a summer resident. On his personal FB page, he's gloating about living in a penthouse apartment with power, internet, cable. But, on the community page, he CHASTISES us without power for being intolerant and how we should silently suffer.

Please, someone, hold me back!!! I can't stand morons like him! This is from someone who has NEVER experienced 6 days, let alone 7 days of power outage. The nerve! Chutzpah! 

Anyhow, I've spent my morning hours at the White Lake Fire Dept at their free breakfast for victims of power outages. Rick Radar (Radar Ray who gave me permission to use his moniker), the legend, was there, bedecked:



I recognized a lot of people from my community, some I haven't seen in months. Go figure - in such a small community, it's rare that we cross paths. Here's a glimpse of the denizens (groups come and go, but I'm still here!):



Well, I'm gonna post this. As I said before, I'm not suffering. Actually, I cleared out a table real fast while pontificating about my political point of view! It seems, even in a disaster, if you don't support Democrats, you're a fucking "R"!

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