In Hurricane Sandy’s Wake

Hurricane Sandy, Hoboken train station

The Hudson River breaches the embankment, flooding the Hoboken train station

Hurricane Sandy has mercifully passed, but so much devastation remains in her wake. This morning’s walk felt post-apocalyptic, as my husband and I roamed the vacant streets. Stores we have never seen closed before–CVS, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s–were shut tight. Street lights and traffic signals were dark. Limbs down. Winds were still gusting, threatening at times to rip street signs from their posts.

In the afternoon, the curfew relaxed, and we were able to wander farther from home. The scenes we saw were devastating–heartbreaking. The back end of town is completely flooded out. The hospital, library, churches, schools, restaurants and countless residents have up to five feet of water in their basements or first floors. People were navigating

National Buard Hurricane Sandy

A grateful evacuee, rescued by the National Guard, being brought to City Hall for heat, food, and water

the streets with rafts and inflatable dinghies. Debris was everywhere. In the higher, drier parts of town, the few shops that were open for business had lines out the door, as cold, hungry people queued for a cup of coffee and a hot pizza–at least until the pizzeria ran out of dough. (Update: Two days later, the National Guard is here, helping evacuate those who are still trapped in their flooded homes. And grocery stores are open. Sort of. You shop in the dark by candlelight. Cash only. They ring you up on a calculator.)

Remarkably, my husband and I have one of the few houses in Hoboken that still has power–and we pulled through with no property damage to speak of. Even the plants that remained outside weathered the storm. The euonymus bushes, which had

Hurricane Sandy vincas

Storm-ravaged vincas

been my biggest concern, didn’t even look windblown. The butterfly bushes are still laden with purple blossoms. And the mandevilla sprawls as always, coiling around the railing, plants, trellis and ropes.

But here’s the curious thing. The vincas in the little bed of flowers out front, which were truly battered, seem to have had pigment washed right off their pink blossoms. Is that even possible?

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