While this post took a bit longer to write than I anticipated, given what you are about to read I think you will understand why . . . The last few days have left just about everyone in the northeast, all of NYC, and Long Island with a Hurricane Sandy story. Here is mine:
Let me start off by saying that hurricanes are nothing new to Long Island. Given that I have lived here all of my 21 years, I have seen my share of hurricanes, tropical storms, etc. Sandy however is the first storm (that I have been home for and remember) that has behaved like a true storm. Sandy was not the false alarm that I initially anticipated, and has left serious damage and destruction across the Northeast.
There is nothing quite like a hurricane to stir up a little stress and excitement in ones life and Hurricane Sandy definitely achieved that one! While all of the grapes were in, there was still plenty to do at the winery, and all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning were spent preparing the wine and fermenting juice for the possibility that no one would be able to reach the winery for a few days. We secured all of the outside tanks, brought in all of the equipment, made the necessary chemical additions to the wine, and made as many preparations as we could. It was a busy weekend, but we were lucky and did not have any damage to or interference with this years vintage.
The winery interns have been staying at a beach house rental, with the ocean as their backyard. As we anticipated they were evacuated, however it occurred a day earlier than anyone expected. The house divided up, with Zora (the Hungarian intern) and her sister Zille (pronounced Z-la) coming to stay at my parents’ house, while the boys–Brandon from Australia and Joel from New Zealand–going to stay at one of the wine makers house.
It was fun having guests, and it’s a good thing that we enjoyed it, because this has been the week of guests, but I will get to that later. My mom being the nervous, neurotic planner that she is (skills that I am actually glad I inherited) made enough food to feed a small army for at least a week and a half! Luckily my parents’ house is high enough above sea level that we did not have flooding issues, we never lost power, and the worst in my neighborhood was a fallen tree blocking the street. There have been so many storms in the last few years that all of our trees have already fallen down (except the one in the street apparently). We had a good time through the storm actually. Zora and Zille taught me some bits and pieces of Hungarian (I know the first third of their alphabet, how to say “grey,” “mouse,” “hello,” “how are you,” and “May I have a beer please?”—all of the necessities! I even tried some Hungarian palinka (similar to schnapps) and we carved pumpkins. Our only real scare was during the peak of the storm on Monday night, when we received a frantic phone call from a friend of mine saying that her sister and her had not been able to get in touch with their parents (good family friends of ours) all day and asking if we had heard anything. As we had not, and given that the roads weren’t too bad, and they live a half-a-mile away we drove over to investigate. They were fine, and we had a nice awkward moment when I walked into their bedroom with my flashlight and woke them up, but luckily everyone was fine and they just had lost power.
On Tuesday Zora, Zille, and I went for a drive out to Hampton Bays, stopping in Riverhead and Westhampton and saw whole roads still flooded, boats pulled from their moorings and sitting in the middle of the road, gasoline and oil leaking into the bay, lawns turned into lakes, and house after house abandoned. The two of them left Tuesday night to discover if their house (the beach house) was washed away by the ocean, luckily it was not, and amazingly they had no damage or water in the house. Wednesday night we all went into work again and the stories of devastation began with trees through roofs, houses flooded, no power or heat, and they continued on the radio with the death toll rising, a million customers without power, lower manhattan in the dark, towns underwater, cars flattened by trees, sharks seen swimming through neighborhoods in New jersey, houses swept away, and whole neighborhoods left homeless, cold, wet, and without food.
Wednesday my cousin Diana, her mom Kathy, and my Great Uncle Eddy came for dinner as their house, while undamaged is without power, heat, water, ect. On Friday they were back and decided to stay until their power returns as the temperature has taken a swan dive, plummeting into the low 30s at night. If the majority of Long Island not having heat, running water, running out of food and supplies, and with severely damaged or destroyed homes wasn’t enough, Long Island is now experiencing a severe gas shortage. The last few days have been pandemonium, as most stations do not have power and those who do run out every day. People are waiting on lines for upwards of an hour, prices have risen 50 cents, there have been fights, and many stations have been forced to call the cops repeatedly.
In conditions such as these with such ruin across the northeast I can’t help but feel guilty that my family got out without a scratch, with no damage to my house when I know people whose childhood homes and everything in them were destroyed, no trouble with gas, when I have heard stories of people not being able to get food or medical attention because they don’t have a way to get there, people freezing at night when I have heat, etc. Experiences such as these, remind me just how much I take for granted such as running and fresh water, hot showers, heat, availability of food, gasoline, and a home. There are so many across the globe who live without these luxuries all their lives, and now there are hundreds of thousands across the northeast without them as well.
Good Luck to all of those out there who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, I am thinking of you!