Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bye Bye, Irene - Updated

She is now officially Little Miss Irene and is downgraded to a tropical storm and is no longer "Hurricane Irene".

Ironically, the minute the announcement went out that she was downgraded, the wind picked up at our place and two big trees came down on our property.  The first big drop was our neighbor's tree and a huge branch dropped on our fence.  The second big tree was on our property and fell across the road, stopping traffic until our village emergency trucks came and removed it.

The winds whipped for quite some time.  In fact, these were the first really bad gusts of wind that we encountered from her of any significance.  Fancy that.


Let me entertain you.  Sit back and relax.  Put on Willy Nelson, and listen to his song while you scroll down through the rest of the photos showing our transition through Little Miss Irene's visit to Hastings on Hudson.

Our story

We patiently waited for her  tantrum to subside so we could take a walk or get out of the house without worrying about a tree falling on us.  Below, is the transition that I photographed from humid, wet Irene, to dry cranky Irene, to bye bye, Irene.




This morning, the 29th of August 2011, the morning after Irene, there were a few "hangovers" to take care of.  Take a look at our Saw Mill Parkway, that is now the "Saw Mill Canal".  Our neighbor photographed people kayaking on it yesterday.  This morning I got shots of it just languishing in the beauty of our sunny, bright, windless early autumn morning.

Anyone want to go kayaking with me? Here is a photo that our neighbor Ron Hollander took of the Saw Mill Canal yesterday. 

Just for the record, we are aware that this is not a happy story for everybody.  They are saying on the news that there were 20 deaths from her, and most of it sounds like people injured and killed from high waters.  We are sorry for what happened.

We have relatives in Connecticut who have no electricity and probably won't have any for days. We have friends in Vermont who are this morning, trying to find their way through a lot of damaged trees.

Before we moved to Hastings on Hudson, we lived on Roosevelt Island on the East River of Manhattan and their tree damage and flooding is considerable. Take a look at their Roosevelt Island Blog. to see the tree damage.    

We have friends in the Bahamas who are wishing for some light in the evening, phone service and some running water.

We are sorry for the damage and injuries that did occur.

These storms appear to be increasing in magnitude.  I hope all of us will start taking note of the scientific evidence we have that these storms, these environmental disasters, are partly caused by human activity over which we have some control.

It was impressive to see the way that a strong mayor and city management affects urban behavior.  Our New Yorkers proved yet again, that  they move quickly when they have to. They efficiently evacuate their homes when deemed dangerous.  They use public transport a lot and walk when they cannot ride.  They may be famously cranky like Irene, from time to time, but they are efficient and quick and full of good spirit.

No doubt, part of this story is just plain mother nature overwhelming us, as she is prone to do.

Bye, Bye, Irene

By the way,  a friend of mine in Australia recommends that we move from Willy Nelson to Leadbelly to get a really good orchestration for the storm. I have to admit.  It really does sound good.  You can listen to it here:  FRANMART BLOGSPOT

Singin' in the Rain - with Irene

It is now one hour into the time when we are supposed to feel the presence of Little Miss Irene.  What we experience thus far is lots of water, lots of rain,.  It has been raining steady for at least five hours now.  Every once in awhile a big gust of wind goes by, but I think wind storms are not going to necessarily be our problem.  Our problem is WATER!  Everything already looks pretty waterlogged. 

Thus far, our house is both high and dry.  We are up on some cliffs, high above the Hudson River.  Here is what it looks like out our window.

From our attic window, the skyline looks like this with  LOTS OF RAIN, LOW VISIBILITY..

Our deck is truly wet now, and the flowers are bowing from the weight of the rain.

That's all for now. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We Plan for Irene

Just south of us, some 7 miles from here, is the northern border of New York City.  We hear through the news that New York City is evacuating some 300,000 people who reside in areas where flooding might occur from the storm  This is what their evacuation zones looks like that they have put into place:


We are up the Hudson River some seven miles beyond the map at Hastings on Hudson. Up here, we do not have evacuation plans,  But many of us work in New York City in areas that are zoned for evacuation, like our son who works near Battery Park, or our friend who owns a business down near the water on the East Side of Manhattan.. 

The Hudson River could flood here in Hastings on Hudson.  But our home is up on the cliffs overlooking the river and facing the Palisades. We do not expect to have problem with flooding like the lowlands might.

It is possible that we might get strong gusts of hurricane winds that topple trees because the tree roots have lost their hold owing to heavy rains. It is also possible that we could have wind damage, considering our height above the river.  But as of now, this is all speculation.

In any case, most of us are hunkered down and are following instructions to get to safe quarters and stay there until the hurricane passes by.

We can forget about public transport in NYC this afternoon because they are shutting down the subway system, stopping the buses and also the Metro rail lines.  That is really amazing.  New Yorkers are big public transport users. I cannot imagine what people will do if they want to get around.  New Yorkers are also good walkers and bikers, which they might do as a last resort.

When all transportation pretty much stopped on September 11, 2001, many of us put on our shoes and walked out of the city.  So it wouldn't be the first time that walking would become the "transport of choice".  However, given the size of the storm expected, I imagine that people won't walk around much either.

I just went up to our attic and took a video of how our skyline looks this afternoon.  When the film starts, we are looking Northwest toward Nyack and the Tappanzee Bridge on the Hudson River.  when the film ends, it is aimed south toward New York City, almost to the George Washington Bridge.Tomorrow, I will try to photograph this same scene again to see how it changes.  Here is a video of our skyline at 3:30pm today taken from our attic..


 Our public library is on the river, next to our train station into the city, a 32 minute train ride from here. One looks down at the Hudson River.  I noticed that big ships had come down the Hudson River to get away from the potential violence of the ocean these next few days. 

Big ships were coasting into the river, and just hanging out there, for the moment.  You can see them through the trees from the Hastings Library.

Hastings Train Station with New York City in the Background
The sign says SERVICES SUSPENDED at the train station.

Although not deserted, our village is almost completely empty of people.  Few cars are in the area.

And the library is closed on Saturday, which is most unusual.

Photo of library taken through the window.

This is how we look today, the day before Hurricane Irene is supposed to hit us.  She is due here in our backyard at 8am.  So when we get up in the morning, I will try to re photograph a number of these places so that you can see the difference.  Until then, pleasant evening!

Miss Irene Didn't Miss Much

Here we are, waiting for cranky Little Miss Irene, our uninvited guest, to arrive.  We have been watching her roll along for quite some time now.

We were most worried and concerned when she rolled over our settlement in the Bahamas and held her eye to the Abacos for most of Wednesday. We heard stories of surges, whipping winds, pouring rain. We were so relieved to find out yesterday that our neighbors are all safe and sound, and that no homes are seriously injured in our area of Bahama Palm Shores and Casurina on the Great Abaco Island.  We are grateful for that.  Its satellite cays also appear to have made it through without too much trouble.  We now hear mainly about brush and downed trees on the road, no electricity and water, no phones.  Hardships, but manageable.  I should point out in case some are wondering, the most recent news from down there says that there is now electricity and internet in Marsh Harbour.

The entire time that the hurricane whirled over the Bahamas, spitting rain and shoving sand and water around, the only news we could get from here in New York was an enormous amount of scary hype indicating that the hurricane Irene was headed toward us, on the East Coast.  Now, I do not feel that it is unimportant that the hurricane is coming our way, mind you.  But it saddened me that so little time could be found by our national reporters to tell the story of these very brave island families, hunkered down, and reporting out to the rest of us mainly through Facebook (when the electricity was on) and through satellite phone (when it was not) as to how they were faring.  We are so grateful for their safety through this terrible storm.

The Abaco Islands is an area where people from Canada and the United States and from countries of Central America have second homes, in addition to the many first homes of Bahamians  Without these brave local Bahamian reporters, mostly reporting on Facebook, we would have no idea how our settlements fared and would still be wondering what happened. 

Irene actually is headed here today ( I am saying this just in case someone managed to never turn on the TV or the radio or speak to anybody for the last 5 days), and I thought that just for the record, I will put up some photos as we go along, of what is happening in our backyard.

I doubt that it will have any of the extreme shaking and blowing that we saw in the photos of our neighbors in the Bahamas putting up with a Category 3, but one never knows.  But since I am here in New York, I thought that it might be "pay back" time and that I should photograph for others what we are getting here in the NY area, actually, reporting from Hastings on Hudson, New York, a rivertown, just 7 miles north of New York City.

For all you Bahamians who have second  homes, children, brothers and sisters, parents and friends in this area, and to all our friends who do not live in the New York City area, here is how it looks, thus far.

 It is not actually a sunny day.  The grey fog covers us so heavily that we cannot see the Hudson River in the distance.  It has not yet started to rain.  The light is such that it is good for photographing flowers.  Our side yard looks very peaceful, like this:

As of 12 noon, it has started to drizzle.  Outside it is quiet.  Few cars go by.  Perhaps one or two per hour, at most.  I think everybody is at the grocery store and at the hardware store getting supplies.  We stayed home today and just filled up our canteens, buckets and extra pails with water in case we lose electricity later.  We have cleared off our decks, checked all the windows to make sure they are properly closed.

Here is how it looks at 1:36pm. Our deck shows a touch of rain.  And you can see from the photo below that the clouds are becoming more dense.  Signing off for now.  More to follow.