Six years ago (almost to the day), my younger sister packed up her dogs, jewelry, and a weekend’s worth of clothes and left New Orleans, fully expecting to return to her home. Katrina roared through St. Bernard Parish and demolished her house. Nothing was salvageable. When my older sister and her husband were mandatorily evacuated from Brooklyn, they didn’t take chances. They moved their most cherished belongings to the second floor, boarded the windows, packed irreplaceable photographs and family jewelry, crated their four cats and brought the lot of it to Lyme.
My first pre-hurricane grocery run was bags of healthy food: fruit, salad, peanut butter, canned soup and twelve gallons of water. When I found out my sister was coming, I ran back for the comfort food of our youth: Devil Dogs, Oreos, Milanos. The cereal aisle at Madison’s Stop and Shop was mysteriously devoid of Captain Crunch (who’s the hoarder??). The storm hit, the power went out, but we made it through with downed trees and branches, very little damage, and mainly an excuse to eat a bunch of junk and drink buckets of wine. Six dark days later, the lights came on.
Here’s what I learned: it’s extraordinary how quickly we adapt to new circumstances. For us, the storm was mostly an inconvenience (although the lack of flushing toilets really got to me by day three). I happily stood in line at the gym for a hot shower, and searched Old Saybrook for a whisp of internet. My flashlight couldn’t discern the difference between stacks of black and gray clothing in my closet so I wore whatever was on top. Ironically, my sister returned home to power, water and no damage whatsoever. I was glad to have her here with me, despite my aversion to cats. I know many of you suffered great damage and some of you lost too much, and I’m so very, very sorry. I hope things return to normal soon.