This week a terrifying storm swept up the Eastern Seaboard, causing billions of dollars of destruction and leaving millions of people without power.
Dubbed Superstorm Sandy, the rare merger of a tropical hurricane with a winter storm front and frigid Canadian air brought tragedy and devastation to several states.
Here, however, there was a strange disappointment.
You could see it in the eyes and faces of the various news crews. They were ramped up for storm coverage, with special logos, colorful maps and tones of somber urgency.
Every five minutes they would break into regular programming for an update; an ominous warning ran across the screen continuously. Murder, politics and sports were replaced with all-weather coverage.
The part-time weathermen, the retired weathermen and freelance weathermen were all called in to supplement the full-time weathermen, each of them hooked up to an IV full of Red Bull when the cameras were off.
Reporters were sent out to deserted piers and ransacked grocery stores and survival bunkers, all of them dressed in rain slickers and mukluks, with survival knives strapped to their thighs.
The region was quick to catch on to the gravity of the situation. School after school sent students home early and canceled upcoming classes. One elementary school announced that it would cancel classes forever, instead offering survival training “to allow children to survive in the post-apocalyptic world.”
Families stocked up on canned goods, bottled water, propane, flashlights, Twinkies, candles, ice, umbrellas, cell-phone batteries, beef jerky and ham radios. They boarded up windows and covered their pets in plastic.
And then … nothing.
Every five minutes I stuck a tentative hand out the door. “I think I felt a drop! And my hair was definitely tousled by the breeze!”
The North Country, however, suffered through no more than a half-decent kite-flying afternoon and 45 seconds of really hard rain the next morning.
The news was left to show pictures of empty emergency shelters. Ominous photos of puddles.
Concerned politicians talking about nothing. Reporters stood on dry sidewalks showing storefronts and homes that “could have been underwater at this very minute.” There was stock footage of kayakers “who if things had gone differently, might have been the only ones able to traverse these streets.”
Cameras could find just two downed trees — apparent victims of nervous beavers. Only one house actually lost electricity, when the owner stuck a screw driver into an electrical outlet, to see if he still had electricity. One silly town in Vermont cancelled Halloween.
How could this happen to us?
I’d already pre-booked the roof-repair guys, filed a claim with the insurance company and applied to FEMA for emergency funds and one of those snazzy trailers.
The stockpile of bottled water and D batteries was useless; we handed it out to lucky trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
No, I suppose none of us really wants our homes flooded, our vehicles crushed by falling trees, our community tattered and left in ruins.
We do, however, sort of want it to happen to the neighbors’ homes, to the community nearby and to the car belonging to that teenager who just won’t turn his stereo down.
Natural disasters make for award-winning news reports, awesome pictures and above all, lasting memories. Is there any resident who doesn’t have photos and stories about the Ice Storm of 1998?
When your adrenaline gets pumping — as it does with storm of the century approaching — there’s an eventual physical and emotional letdown. We were fortunate to be let down, but it’s a letdown nonetheless.
You missed us Sandy. Nyah, nyah. But we sort of missed you, too.
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