So we drove to Pennsylvania last week for a vacation with the extended family. The rental house was on a bucolic lake surrounded by state gameland and farms. With tree stumps mid-lake, reaching for the sky, and several low-lying islands, we concluded that Lake Henry was man-made. This was a part of a state that I’m woefully unfamiliar with.
Blessedly without reliable Internet or cell connectivity, we were still cursed with that bane of modern culture, the television. On Wednesday, we saw the forecasts for Hurricane Irene. Definitely a nasty storm, the weather persons did their best to present it as the meteorological version of Night of the Living Dead.
We bought what we figured we’d need on the way home. A few standby groceries, a fresh propane tank for the grill, batteries. Planning ahead takes the edge off things.
On Saturday, I bagged a roller ski interval workout in a steady 10 mph wind under a lead sky. I made it home in time to put anything outdoors that wasn’t nailed down – gas grill, potted plants, whatever – into the garage as it started to rain. Then we hunkered down. Wet and noisy, the hurricane sent barely any more water into our basement than any other torrential rainstorm. As the rain tailed off on Sunday, I grabbed my camera and set out for a run.
My first stop was to poach Hedden Park. While the entrance was still gated at noon, I figured I’d be OK. Water poured down the trails and the creeks roared with muddy water. The usually dry creek crossing on the perimeter loop required circumspect deliberation before choosing a route across. The wasn’t much significant debris until I saw the blowdown on the gravel hill trail. Hedden Park’s five-minute interval hill just became a four-minute interval hill.
I ran out the lower trail and headed into Dover. The east end of town was in rough shape as the Rockaway River overflowed its banks. Two guys kayaked in the middle of Blackwell Street as pedestrians waded through. On a side street, a friend rigged a sump pump to drain his basement.
We were lucky.
My heart is crying for the devastation I’ve seen and read about throughout the Catskills, Vermont and Massachusetts. It seems like all the places I enjoy – and the people that live there – are suffering mightily. My thoughts go out to you.