I am here. I am on the waterfront in Brooklyn, watching the East River rise over Mandatory Evacuation Zone A, otherwise known as my home.
I am still here because I grew up among hurricanes.
And in those years of flying down empty highways with the windows down as hurricane winds howled through my car, I have learned they are very unpredictable.
Last August, I reluctantly evacuated Brooklyn for the Catskill Mountains during Hurricane Irene. It was what the news sites were telling me to do.
And I did it.
New York City was on high alert. Buses, trains, subways were shut down. We made the journey upstate and our friends followed. We got there in the pouring rain and huddled together in the cozy house on the only two couches in the living room.
I woke up in the middle of the night with the feeling that something was horribly wrong. It didn’t feel right being up in the mountains. We had to go to back to city immediately. I felt it in my bones. But I ignored the thought because it didn’t seem logical. It was what the weather sites and the news stations had forecast against doing.
The next morning, I felt like something was pushing me down the stairs and out the door. I got unreasonably panicked. I told my friends and Burke that we had to leave immediately to go back to Brooklyn. We flicked on a small radio to hear what was going on. The announcer said that no one was to be on the roads except in the event of an emergency because of downed trees and power lines from the wind the night before.
I was acting completely crazy. And I knew it. I was scared of my own behavior. But somehow I convinced them we had to leave the Catskills and drive Brooklyn bound.
It took us 8 and 1/2 grueling hours to find our way back to Brooklyn. Roads had turned into uncrossable lakes. Trees were barricaded across lanes of empty freeway. Electrical wires dangled from downed power lines across the streets. Through the bad weather, we navigated the trip back to Brooklyn.
When we finally saw the city skyline on the horizon, we were all exhausted. Everything seemed fine. I forced everyone to do this insane and unsafe journey for no reason. I said goodbye to my friends, shut my car door and cried. I was going crazy, I told Burke. There was something wrong with me. I had sworn that something was warning me upstate that I should get out of the Catskills and back to the city. And I had been wrong.
In the early hours of the next morning, Burke got a call from the landlord of the house upstate. About two hours after we left, a massive tree had hit the roof and a 7 foot branch javelined itself through the roof landing on the couch in the living room….
the couch that our friends would have been sitting on.
All of life is unpredictable.
In a place that was supposed to be safe, there was chaos. In a place that everyone was told to leave, nothing happened. No one knows for sure what will happen anywhere at anytime.
I am here because my gut tells me to be here. I have lived here for 13 years. I have called Brooklyn “home” – longer than any other place in my lifetime.
I am here because I am trusting my intuition. It served me well in the past. It has served me better than news outlets and radio warnings.
I can only hope that it is right again.
Signing off from Mandatory Evac Zone A, Brooklyn, NY