Hurricane Sandy in Outside
“Mom, they can’t stay,” I pleaded into the phone. “That’s a really bad idea.” Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on my parents’ waterfront home, and a mandatory evacuation order had been issued for their town, but my father and brother said they had no intention of leaving—and worse, my mother was thinking of staying with them. Governor Chris Christie was on TV warning that anyone who ignored the order and got in trouble would be left behind. And forecasters were predicting nearly apocalyptic storm conditions for the Jersey Shore. My mom had undergone heart surgery less than two weeks before and was in no condition to flee a storm surge.
But Dad and my brother, Kevin, thought they could weather Sandy, just as they had Hurricane Irene a little more than a year before. The house my parents bought in 1999 to enjoy their golden years (Dad is 70, Mom is 66) sits less than 30 feet from a tidal lagoon, with an expansive view of big sky and shimmering water—features that now presented a direct threat to my parents’ safety. I told my mom they were risking their lives.
“I know. There’s no point in trying to change their minds,” she said in a tone that said drop it already.
I tried anyway, calling Dad from my Brooklyn apartment as the wind bent the treetops alarmingly close to our sixth-floor windows. I ran through the reasons: Sandy was much stronger than Irene. High tide would come in the dark. Calling for help would threaten the lives of the first responders, and it would probably be too late for rescue anyway.
“I appreciate your concern, but we’ll be fine,” my dad said. If the situation turned dicey, my family would take refuge in their neighbor Richie’s house across the street, which had a second story. Two of the guys staying there were “young” like my brother—who is 43. “Plus,” Dad added, “we have life preservers, and there are a lot of docks around here.”
When I protested that they weren’t going to be able to float to safety on placid waters, I could almost hear him roll his eyes. He didn’t explain. He just repeated, “We’ll be fine.”
Apparently my mom thought so, too, because she decided to stay with them.