Still Here. Sunday October 28th was weird and ominous. It was the last day of Legend Celebration at Sunnyside. We all knew Sandy was coming the next day, but the management wanted to keep us performers outdoors as long as possible. The slate-gray clouds traversed rapidly overhead, but it was mostly just chilly and breezy. But every now and then a shockingly strong wind gust would try to make a sail of the tacked-down tarp provided for audience seating. My super-strong outdoor magic table almost blew over twice, and I was finally brought inside for my last two shows.
That night and the next morning I made my Sandy preparations. I secured or brought in plants and terrace furniture, charged my phone & computer and made sure I had water, flashlights, batteries, radio, candles, canned soup, power bars and some cash. (But I completely forgot to gas up my car...) If it got really bad, I was ready to hole up in my windowless bathroom. I checked in with neighbors and then settled in to ride it out.
The buildings on my street generally fare pretty well in storms (although not necessarily the trees.) We’re on high ground, and many of the buildings are constructed of brick or cinder blocks, with shared walls that blunt the impact of the wind. Still, the warnings about Sandy were dire. The wind and rain started in the afternoon, and soon it became one of the scariest storms I’ve ever experienced. Some of the wind gusts shook the whole building so hard I thought the windows would blow in. But during some of the calmer periods I couldn’t resist looking out at the horizontal rain and the weird lightning I later realized was actually exploding transformers. My lights dimmed and flickered but never went out. But most of the Peekskill I could see from my window was pitch dark. Eventually the storm began to subside and I finally went to bed.
The next morning we awoke to learn of the terrible devastation of this storm. Our area had many many trees down, with widespread power outages, but we were spared a direct hit. Right here there were some blocks without power, but downtown Peekskill did OK. A lot of people didn’t have internet, but many of those who did posted on Facebook, offering hot showers and a warm place to stay.
But of course Peekskill has a riverfront, too. A state of emergency had been declared early Monday, and Riverfront Green and other low-lying areas had been closed. All night Peekskill’s police, fire and other emergency personnel had been out in the middle of Sandy’s wrath, potentially risking their own lives to keep the rest of us safe. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.
We mostly dodged the bullet with this one. Some people have suffered property losses and have been rendered very uncomfortable and majorly inconvenienced. But here in Peekskill, it could’ve been so much worse. As far as I know, nobody in our immediate area lost their lives or suffered devastating injuries. Of course that’s not the case in other areas. Many Peekskillians are now mobilizing and reaching out to help those who those who are so much worse off.
I think I always appreciate our close-knit community, but it’s at times like this that I’m reminded how, in trying times, we all band together and help each other. In a crisis, there’s nowhere else I would rather be.