One of the cool things about living in or near New York City is that nothing ever happens here.
Well, that's not exactly true. We have plenty of man-made disasters: house fires, plane crashes, terror attacks, and the like. But I'm talking about natural disasters. Generally speaking, we don't have a lot of tornadoes, forest fires, earthquakes, mudslides, or hurricanes. They happen, but very rarely, and almost never in combination.
Until this week. On Tuesday, we had a real earthquake. We apparently have earthquakes all the time, as we are located on a major fault, but they are almost never strong enough to be felt. I didn't feel Tuesday's quake, as I was out running errands, but my kids did; they said the living room furniture was swaying, and water was sloshing out of the fish tank. They were simultaneously frightened and impressed. It was exciting for them to see the earthquake coverage on the news. "See, Mom? We didn't make it up. There really was an earthquake!"
And now, we are expecting the landfall of a full-force hurricane tomorrow night. This is an extremely rare event in the New York/New Jersey area. We frequently get what the weather people call "hurricane remnants," heavy winds and rain left over from a hurricane that has made landfall a little further south. We also sometimes get nor'easters, storms that approach us from the (you guessed it) northeast. But New York City has not taken a direct hit from a hurricane since 1938. During that storm, the East River surged over its banks and billions of dollars of damage (in today's value) were sustained.
Irene, the hurricane approaching us now, is at least as strong as the Great Hurricane of 1938. States of emergency have been declared in both New York and New Jersey. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the buses, subways, and trains in New York City, will be closing down over the weekend, as will Amtrak's Northeastern Corridor. Almost everyone is taking this seriously.
As I write this, my son is bringing in all the potted plants from the back stoop. The little folding table we sometimes eat on in the evenings has also come in from the porch. The porch swing has come down and has been stowed in the garage. When I finish this, I will go to the hardware store to buy some spikes to anchor the trampoline into the ground. (It's too big for us to move indoors.) By the time the wind sets in tomorrow afternoon, we should be battened down and safe.
One more thing - I am charging my laptop, so that even if the power goes down, I'll still be able to conntinue posting about Spain. Stay with me - though it's just pictures and touristy stuff now, I promise it gets more interesting a little bit down the road.
Stay safe, wherever you are.