I grew up in the tropics of South Florida, where hurricanes and summer go together like salt and pepper or arroz and pollo. I used to keep a list of all storm names taped to the fridge and would cross them off, one by one, when they passed. But no matter how severe the storm, I would always be reminded that it was nothing like Hurricane Andrew, the monstrosity that tore Miami apart in August 1992. Andrew survivors can still be identified by their t-shirts that say, “I SURVIVED HURRICANE ANDREW” and the fact that, at every possible moment, they remind anyone they happen to be talking to that no matter how painful a hernia is or how much waiting in line at the DMV sucks, Andrew was worse. “It was like ‘Nam, man,” they tell us.
These days, hurricanes bring with them TV spinmeisters and newspaper columnists who, on account of having survived the previous year’s hurricane season, suggest to us that their survival advice is more useful than battery-operated television sets or, for that matter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Be sure to close your front door before the storm hits!” they suggest helpfully. “This could be the next Andrew! Don’t forget to stock up on bottled water and python nets! Most importantly, have an ample supply of bananas—there could be feral monkeys on the loose!”
Of course, these same pundits and writers conclude, after the hurricane has passed, that the storm was a whole to-do about nothing. “’Tis but a scratch,” they write. “Just a flesh wound. I’ve seen worse.” These individuals proceed to blame the media for dramatizing a drizzle, and calm returns until the following week, when another two storms threaten to rustle some palm fronds. “This one really could be the next Andrew!” they bellow. “Don’t be the boy who cried wolf! Make sure to shut your front door before the storm hits!”
Having endured this ordeal every summer for my entire childhood, I thought I would escape it all by heading north for college. But, as luck would have it, storms have a funny tendency to follow me to the far reaches of habitable terrain. Last year, Irene threatened to dump as much as half an inch of rain on Boston, and this year Sandy gave us quite a scare. As a Florida native who survived too many storm seasons, I feel obligated to impart to my faithful northern readers some advice and wisdom regarding hurricanes.
First and foremost, in the event of a storm, be sure to shut all doors and windows. This advice is particularly salient if a hurricane brings with it rain, wind, or monkeys. Second, federal law dictates that supplies may be purchased only on the day preceding the storm, and must be thrown away immediately afterward. I used to think the law applied only to Florida residents, but recently learned that it is, in fact, a federal regulation, explaining why half of the eastern seaboard went shopping for flashlights on Sunday.
New York City, the reports indicate, had more than its fair share of flying projectiles. One early report indicated that all of Long Island blew into lower Manhattan, causing a large brawl regarding the proper lox-to-bagel ratio for hurricane rations. (The verdict was a single slice of lox per bagel, due to a shortage of salmon.) The City, by all accounts, was absolutely devastated by Sandy. And it is such a shame—the only thing more depressing than living in a state bordering New Jersey is the possibility of a giant dangling crane falling on your head. Now, the rest of the nation turns its eyes to the City to learn, once and for all, how to repair a crane that snapped in half like a toothpick.
All kidding aside, New York will rebuild, bigger and better than before. I by no means mean to minimize the tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with those poor souls in the tri-state area, but surely if there is any city in the world that can regroup and rebuild better than before, it is New York City. The buildings will continue to grow and the concrete jungle will bloom once again. Until then, though, New Yorkers will have to settle for the inevitable “I SURVIVED HURRICANE SANDY” t-shirts and pundits telling them how important it was to close their front doors before the storm.
To my compatriots in Boston who have weathered the storm with me—‘twas but a flesh wound.
To my friends and family in Manhattan—I hope you all stocked up on bananas.
Jacob R. Drucker ’15, a Crimson editorial writer, lives in Mather House.