I grew up on Long Island. Almost nothing exciting ever happened there during my childhood, except two humongous snow storms. The snow was as high as an elephant's eye!! But besides that, calm and quiet Long Island life.
Then when we got married, and still lived on Long Island, things continued to be calm and quiet, until a mammoth storm on Sukkot sent my relatives in other areas to my house, where we sat on the living room carpet to wait out the storm.
Well, I haven't lived in Long Island for many years. But it seems to have turned into a pretty exciting (not good exciting) place. Last week they felt the tremors of the earthquake that hit the Washington DC area. My dearest mother, until 120, was sitting in the living room when her chair started shaking so badly, she had to get up to see if it was broken. Then when she saw that it was sturdy enough, she thought, G-d forbid, that her adult-onset-tremors had worsened. Suddenly her visitors ran in and said, "Earthquake!!"
Over the years there have also been rain storms and snow storms, but there's never been anything like Hurricane Irene.
I don't know how hard the storm will hit, but New York and Long Island have not taken any chances. The subways were shut down for a natural disaster for the first time in 100 years. That's serious.
Hundreds of thousands of New York residents have been evacuated. Wow.
And yet, despite warnings many people have chosen to stay in their homes.
As my niece and nephew rushed around, shopped for staples, called friends to find out their evacuation plans, my mother calmly played solitaire on the computer. "You're embarrassing me," she said. "It's going to be a big nothing." My mother is, B"H, not easily phased by things. She stood firm during World War II, during the Korean War, the moratoriums and the Vietnam War, during the Great Blackouts of whatever the years were. She even came to Israel to be with her kids during the Gulf War and a few intifadas. Her courage, B"H, was an example to all. But even calm grandmothers must face the moment of truth. Senior citizens, especially, were told to evacuate immediately. So, despite the fact that she thought it was all hot air (hurricanes are actually violent, not necessarily hot, air), B"H she complied.
My mother was evacuated to family in upstate New York. (Thanks, family, for your hospitality!) B"H, I can rest easier knowing she is out of harm's way.
But how did hundreds of thousands of people escape the hurricane without trains or buses or planes? That's still a mystery to me. And where did they go? Do almost a million people have friends or family in upstate New York?
My nephew said that the only thing they were showing on the news were these hundreds of thousands on the roads, and it all looked like something out of an end-of-the-world horror movie.
Well, if Hurricane Irene ends up being as bad as they're anticipating, the scary part is yet to come.
My thoughts and prayers are with our brethren in the wake of Hurricane Irene. May they be safe and secure, and may things get back to normal...no, better than normal, very soon.
My grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to sing us a ditty before he went to bed each night,
Irene, goodnight, Irene, goodnight
Goodnight, Irene, goodnight, Irene
I'll see you in my dreams...
Let's all hope that Irene indeed will pass over night like a dream, and not, G-d forbid, a nightmare.