The first warnings always come from my Mother-in-law. Exiled to warmer climes, she keeps a mindful eye on her old stomping grounds in NYC. Let any ping on the radar of Fear be broadcast, and my wifey is given immediate notice. Even her local psychic can set off the early warning system. It always a biblical rain predicted to last 40 days and nights, or a scorching heat wave that will toast our heads like marshmallows, or a big huffing puffing wind that will blow down our houses. We do after all live on an island surrounded by a tidal estuary. But our building is brick, smart little piggies, and we are well stocked up on 100 proof sunscreen, so we won’t be smeared into s’mores across a blistering pavement. And since she’s in Florida, her vicarious enjoyment of all the catastrophic potential doesn’t require a ride over a river to the netherlands of Brooklyn to reassure, resupply, or just get her wagons in a proper circle.
But as if by mememic sorcery, it would seem that the rest of New York is rather on the same page as my Mother-in-law. The Chicken Little School of Journalism is just following the lead of a cross party governing style that seems to have stayed up late nights reading the Hedge fund Manager’s Guide to Natural Disaster. It would seem to just make more administrative sense reduce their own stress by telling people to stay home, but since we’re The City of the Ambitious, that would mean nothing to us. So they give their decree teeth by stopping public transportation and banning car traffic, effectively making it impossible to get to and from work, and thus everyone has to go home. Everyone has to puss out.
They’ve done this four times since 2011, and we have to ask ourselves how this is affecting the self-esteem and inner strength of the average New Yorker. When did we become Weather Pussies? Two generations back, and we have stories of walking miles through snow storms with a single hot potato for lunch doubling as a hand-warmer. The self-appointed Greatest Generation is not laughing at us now, they’re sneering. (But then they sneered at their children, too, though, for not being able to set the VCR time. Still, they don’t get the last laugh, so maybe they’re not even sneering so much either.) The New York I grew up in would sneer, does sneer.
We are coming to accept that any time a meteorological event occurs, or is predicted to occur, we have to prepare for it and when it hits, hide our heads under our desks, or between our legs where we can kiss our asses goodbye. We fear the radical meteorological terrorist as an act of someone else’s god, but we don’t want to actually build an infrastructure to deal with it. In the Wall St. area, residents were forced to go to their Hampton homes, because they were getting too fit walking up 34 floors while their building and neighborhood was without electricity for months. Other less fortunate people, had to live in shelters for those months, because they didn’t have the luxury of having a backup generator in their flooded basements or a country home. The lesson learned? Put the generator on the roof and too bad for the elderly poor, they should move out of their rent stabilized apartments and go somewhere closer to the ground or in it. Many of the victims of Sandy along the Jersey shore have finally gotten their homes and lives back, but where did they rebuild? You’d hope for the sake of FEMA, they rebuilt inland, but you know that they didn’t. Some of them went up on stilts, some of them are thinking of it as a hedged chance to remodel. Jersey, ‘nuff said?