Tracking Sandy

I woke up about 3:30 Tuesday morning with a bit of a start, and proceeded to toss and turn for a good hour at least. At one point, I got up to check my phone for messages, wondering if there were any from family members back home — particularly my dad. I was worried about what Sandy was doing to the East coast and Upstate New York.

I’m thinking it was last Thursday when I began seeing Associated Press stories about the “Frankenstorm” that was destined to wreak havoc up and down the Atlantic. At first glance, I met these reports with a certain degree of skepticism. After all, the storm wasn’t forecast to hit for several days, and certainly the converging systems could weaken or change course. But as the stories continued to come and the countdown toward Monday ticked off, it became increasingly apparent that Hurricane Sandy was going to be a Very Big Deal.

After getting home from work Monday night, I was doing a little reading when an email arrived. “Greetings from windy Brooklyn,” was the first text I noticed. It was from my uncle Larry.

“Home today and tomorrow,” the message continued. “We have no connectivity — internet, TV or cable — except cell phones. … One tree is down in street 2 houses down & smashed 2 cars. The worst is yet to come. Worried about tree over NW corner of house. Won’t sleep in our bedroom tonight.”

I had already known that New York City had been absolutely ravaged by Sandy, but naturally this message brought things more than a tad closer to home. Then, I read my dad’s reply to Larry.

“Wishing you the best, Larry and family.

“We have wind, but at this point we have power. … The expectation is that the winds will pick up later into the night. The issue is the direction of the wind. Generally, the wind comes from the south, southwest and northwest. This storm has the wind coming from the northeast and east, stressing the trees in an unusual way. There are several pine trees fairly close to the house on the windward side. All trees have shallow roots because of the ledge. … Our fingers are crossed.”

My dad’s property is in a very remote location near the New York-Vermont state line, and his residence is a personal labor of love — three interconnected yurts he helped design and build. (If you’re interested, you can see his home at http://www.skidmore.edu/~smcgaugh/MainYurts.html.) I couldn’t help but have a two-fold concern — one for his well-being, and other for the home that essentially became his life’s work over many, many hours and years of labor.

It was sometime around this point that I started to turn to both traditional and social media to read news on Sandy. The New York Times, of course, had no shortage of coverage, as well as plenty of photos and video. USA Today was another source I visited for news, and from there it was off to Facebook and Twitter for an array of personal accounts and other media postings. There was plenty to see, and it was all pretty harrowing.

Tuesday morning, at the office, I got an email from my dad stating that he came through Monday night’s storm unscathed. I talked him later in the evening and he said that Sandy, thankfully, was a “non-event” where he was. He still hadn’t heard from his brother — Larry — though, and was concerned.

At one point Monday night, while perusing through friends’ Facebook statuses, I put a comment underneath one that said something to the effect of, “Any past or future complaint about Minnesota winter weather is completely inane.” As millions remain without power as a result of Sandy, and costs in damage no doubt approach billions of dollars, I can’t help but be comparatively unconcerned about any severe weather that may come our way this winter.

Except, of course, if it’s Frankenstorm, The Sequel.

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