Saturday, August 27, 2011
HURRICANE IRENE EVACUATION DAY JOURNAL 082711
512AM--I woke up after 5 hours of sleep. I turn on the weather channel, and have the frozen yogurt I was too tired to eat last night. Al Roker is on Long Island, and one of their other regulars is standing in the wind on Nag's Head Island, NC. I know I can't function properly on 5 hours of sleep and go back to bed.
837AM--Is that really the time? I woke up with my arm over one of my eyes. It won't focus. I fight denial and recheck the time on my phone. It is 839 now! The trains are going to stop running at 12NOON. If you live here you know how hard it is to get around without public transit. It costs an arm and a leg, and with all the traffic lights, it can take forever. I make instant coffee and imagine working while I start getting clothes together.
915AM-- My eye starts focusing. I give up hurricane evacuation denial. I do not have time to work out. I will have to bring a real, rolly suitcase. Passport, vitamins, laptop, hip flask of gin/flashlight (if I run out of one, I can use the other), books to inspire me, books to entertain me.
I close all the windows, put tarps over the beds, and over the closet bars, feed the cats enough for a few days.
By 1011AM--I am showered, and packed. I choose a pair of jeans that look good rolled up and plastic flipflops. If you think this is fripperous or vain, this is NYC where people think of leaving beautiful corpses.
1030AM--Ready to leave, yet not. I spend 10 minutes rechecking everything, and that no cats are locked in the closets.
1039AM--I hurry. Sirens are coming from all directions, but I do not see the source of them. It's raining lightly and cars that usually plug along at 40 mph are racing down the main drag at 60 or 70 miles an hour.
1050AM--There is an attendant at the Coney Island station, but the doors are open. The train is FREE. There is no security. My 9/11 PTSD kicks in and says, "great day for a terrorist attack".
Only two Chinese men get off the incoming train. The rest of us get on--probably 100 for a train suited to more like 1000.
1130AM--The train is also local and running slow.We're going over Manhattan Bridge. It's unusually quiet. I look out the window and there are almost no cars going over the bridge. I count 14 in the 10 minute ride.
1206PM--I arrive at my safe house for the next few days, safe and sound. But the weather's not too bad. I decide to take a walk before I'm stuck inside. Most of the chain stores are closed. I am sure that is in part because having some stores open with a reduced staff would confuse their accounting and human resources depts.
I wonder how many stores that were near closing will finally fold over losing a few days' sales. I've seen a lot of stores close in midtown recently, including "Everything Must GO" which has been going out of business for more than 40 years.
A hipster man is explaining to his son that today is just like Thanksgiving--everything is closed. One thing is different than Thanksgiving. I check out the movie theater nearby and it is also closed.
Pricey restaurants are open though, and packed with people seemingly oblivious to the restaurants' hurricane preparations.
Tourists are standing outside scratching their heads, unsure of what to do in closed New York. A lot of the higher end restaurants are open. Many delis and Duane Reades are open, with check out lines extending to the back of their stores.
1258PM It starts to rain harder. I finally see a hand-drawn hurricane safety station sign for over on 59th and 10th Ave. I'm glad homeless and near homeless have somewhere to go.
130PM I finally decide to have lunch at a bar on 8th Ave. called Matt's. It's not too full. Service is slow, and I am pretty sure the owner was the acting busboy today. People read their facebook "keep safe" messages to each other and talked about doing shots and doing laundry. I guess in Manhattan it will be a regular day until it isn't anymore.