I awake on Monday morning expecting the black sky to burst like a dam. There is an abnormal electric feel to the air. The rain and wind are not detrimental yet. But I can feel the potential lingering.
A few hours later I am in Northeast Philadelphia driving around with Walbert, both of us on the lookout for any signs of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. Initially, the only thing distinguishing this day from any other is the stillness.
Normally, it’s noisy in the Northeast. Usually there are dogs barking, angry drivers honking, people talking out-loud to themselves, people talking to other people, children playing games on the streets, UPS trucks blocking roads, airplanes buzzing in the sky, teenagers laughing on their way to school, teenagers laughing running away from school, and generally a sense of life coming from every corner on every street.
Mother nature overpowers any human noise still audible. The wind howls and raindrops make “cling” sounds as they attack every surface.
The afternoon unfolds and Sandy seems stronger. Her unpredictability scares me. One minute the wind stops completely and the rain clears as if a bad thunderstorm just ended. Then out of nowhere, a gust topples over branches and hundreds of little rain needles coated with ice stab you from every direction. It’s like a mind game. You start to suspect that every time it gets quiet, it means it will get even more intense once Sandy returns to her violent state.
The whole thing lasts about a day and a half. Then it starts to fizzle out.
We were lucky, unlike our New Jersey neighbors whose shores will never look the same. In Northeast Philadelphia, flooding is minimal but the wind causes many power lines and mega trees to fall over cars and homes. Some walls are damaged, and many store signs are left broken. Thousands of people are left without power. But no one is hurt.
It seems to me that in our neighborhoods Sandy flexed her muscles to let us know there are stronger forces out there, yet never engaged us in a full-blown battle. Despite her beauty and grandeur, nature won’t always be so considerate. But this time, she let it slide.