What a difference a week makes.
The sun is shining and the breeze gently stirs the salted trees branches. Traffic moves at a brisk pace across our city’s drawbridge. Trains whistle as the cross the bridge trestle and the smell of Maxwell House coffee drifts across the river once more.
One week ago we woke up to 70 mph wind gusts and driving rain. We watched the river crest the walkway in front of our high rise, lapping against the lobby doors. We saw canals instead of streets, and we heard nothing but the scream of Irma’s wrath.
It’s been a week of worry and grim preparation. The days of uncertainty- should we leave, is there anywhere to run? We laid in supplies, we made sure our five kids were hunkered down in safe places, and we waited.
We played rummy, started a jigsaw puzzle, read, played the piano, and tried not to watch the Weather Channel 24/7.
I made soup, and meatloaf, and creamy mashed potatoes. We drank beer, and we went on walks while the skies only misted; amazed at the white caps on the river. We watched movies and calmed the cat.
I got up at 2:30 a.m. to watch the green glow of power transformers blowing across town. I watched lights blink and palm trees bend and water sluice down the stairwells of the parking garage outside our window. I put in my earplugs and tried to sleep.
After the storm anxiety levels only increased as we called and texted family and friends. Were they safe?
The Weather Channel moves on, the local reporters go around town recording the damage. You’re ready to get back to normal, You even miss going to work. But there’s more.
The part no one tells you about- the aftermath of a natural disaster. There are trees down, and no power for many. You’ve seen it on t.v. before. Poor souls, I will write a check. Then it hits closer to home. One kid with no power, one has a flooded street and can’t return to their apartment. And one, has knee high water in her college apartment.
So you help. Anyway you can. You save what can be salvaged. You wear gloves and you sanitize the stuff that can be saved. You toss the rest in the growing pile of insulation and dry wall and wet mattresses. You watch them square their shoulders and box up their few belongings. Your heart breaks.
You swallow your tears and take the next call. No power after five days, can we sleep in a/c tonight. You clean the sheets and hang up fresh towels. You just want to lay your head down and sleep for the next 48 hours.
But work calls- the office flooded. All your stuff is being moved out so they can dry it out. Now you begin to fall apart. You wonder if you reached the tipping point. You wish you could sit down and have a good cry. But, your boss is calling and there are tasks to complete, decisions to be made, plans to change.
This morning you pull up the news- another hurricane, Maria is bearing down and you have no more emotional energy to care.