Captain’s Log: Hurricane Irene

28 Aug

Hurricane Irene swept through much of the east coast this weekend, flooding low-lying areas from North Carolina to Massachusetts and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. New York City was hit hard. Well, pretty hard. Sort of. I mean, it was really windy and it rained a lot. Here is my harrowing tale of survival.


9 am. Harlem.

Getting ready for work. Hurricane coverage is the only thing discussed on the news this morning. Is Libya fixed?

9:13 am

Reporters suggest boarding up apartment windows and contemplate the possibility that New York City’s sewage system will be compromised.

10:05 am. Midtown

Two men in the office elevator discuss whether they should stay in their Manhattan apartments or flee to their second homes in Connecticut. “I’ll be braving it out in Westchester,” says their female companion, “I’m dreading the yardwork.”

11:30 am

We have all the TVs on in the newsroom. CNN anchors explain Irene’s “cone of uncertainty” as co-workers discuss whether or not to remove A/C window units. I am writing an article about a man who plays the ukulele.

2 pm

Parts of the city are being evacuated.

2:45 pm

People are told to leave Coney Island. Let’s be honest, that should probably happen anyway.

3:30 pm

Should I buy batteries?

3:49 pm

The drug store is out of batteries, flashlights and toilet paper.  Maybe that’s what will ruin the sewage system—the panicked use of too many toilet paper squares.

4:15 pm

Me: I bought a sponge!
Josh: How is that going to help you in a hurricane?
Me: I don’t know. It looked useful.

5:15 pm. Greenwich Village

Mazall reports the following conversation overheard on the street:

Guy: We need crackers. Wheat Thins.

Girl: I’m going to be so fat by the time this hurricane is over.

6:37 pm. Harlem.

Left work early to prepare for impending doom. The check-out line at the grocery is wrapped around the store. The elderly man in front of me is purchasing a grocery cart full of water. The twentysomething girl behind me is buying pita bread and brie.

6:35 pm

The first tragedy has occurred. Josh came over but he forgot to bring The Wire on DVD.

7:15 pm

My mom calls. She wants to me to sleep in the bathtub.

9:15 pm

The Deer Hunter is a really good movie.

9:46 pm

The dog rolls over in her sleep. Is this strange animal pre-disaster behavior?

10:30 pm

A third slice of pizza isn’t gluttonous. It’s advanced preparedness.


The Weather Channel says to expect 90 mph winds, flying debris and blown out windows. I go to bed and dream that it’s flooding.


9 am. Harlem.

Josh has to leave before the subways are shut down. I try to convince him to stay with me but he’s determined to be swept off to sea in Brooklyn.

10:30 am

It’s raining and I’m all alone! I’m going to die!

11:15 am

I take the dog outside to go to the bathroom. She runs around in circles and hides under a lamppost.


Dad calls. “Have you filled up your bathtub with water?” No, dad.

1 pm

I should do laundry. I may have to live in a FEMA trailer for a year but at least my sheets will be clean.

2 pm

Second attempt to get dog to go to the bathroom ends in failure. Instead, she chases after a leaf and eats a discarded chicken wing.

2:15 pm

Mom calls. “Are you hiding in the bathtub yet?” No, mom.

2:45 pm

Clean bathroom. Not to hide in it, just cause it was dirty.

3:30 pm

Make a casserole in case the power goes out.

3:45 pm

Eat the casserole.

4:15 pm

Television news reports says Irene will hit the city in the middle of the night. Evacuation is in full effect and large parts of Manhattan may be without power. I should expect to be unable to go outside tomorrow.

6 pm

CBS has put Molly up in a hotel room.

Molly: Here’s the number for the hotel. If it gets really bad, call me and I’ll come get you in the company SUV.

Me: You mean rowboat?

6:35 pm

Mom calls. “What’s that noise? Is that a siren?”  No, mom. It’s the kettle. I’m making tea.

7:15 pm


8 pm.

More wine.

9:15 pm

Mom calls again but I don’t get to the phone in time. I call her right back. “Oh, thank god!” she says, “When you didn’t answer I thought you might be in trouble.”

9:35 pm

Text Josh. He is playing video games.

10 pm

It’s raining harder and the wind has picked up. I take the dog outside again. She glares at me and runs back inside the apartment.


I should go to bed. The storm will probably wake me up in the middle of the night and then I’ll be too scared to go back to sleep.

12:15 am

Too worried. Can’t sleep.

12:17 am

Can’t sleep

12:19 am

Can’t sleep

12:22 am

Can’t sle….zzzz…..


 9 am. Harlem.

Phone is ringing.

Me: Hello?
Mom: I just thought of something.
Me: …sleeeeepy…..
Mom: You should put on all of your expensive jewelry so that if you have to evacuate you won’t lose it
Me: what time is it?
Mom: Unless you think it will hurt you if you have to hide under something
Me: (looks out window). Oh. It’s raining normally.
Mom: Are you listening to me?
Me: What?
Mom: Do you know where your jewelry is?
Me: Yes. I have two tennis bracelets and a pair of earrings, that’s it
Mom: Put them on!
Me: I need coffee.

9:15 am.

Apparently I slept through the hurricane.


One Response to “Captain’s Log: Hurricane Irene”

  1. mazall August 29, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    claire, you’ve outdone yourself. this is a fine, fine piece of journalism.

Go ahead, say it.

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