Monday, August 29, 2011


It didn't seem like much in many ways. I drove up to the southern Berkshires to drop my son's friend off in a little rural town his mother had driven down to meet me at. And then back here to Jersey. This afternoon. Two hours each way more or less.

Got to see a lot of Northern Jersey from the Garden State Parkway, and then across the Tappen Zee Bridge and up the Eastern side of the Hudson, first on a freeway and then on a two lane country road. Lots of big tree branches down, and big trees too. And power off in the rural areas, traffic lights not working, stores dark, etc.

Only a few spots with water, though lots of news reports of other roads flooded out, some partially destroyed by flooding, bridges too. But I made it up and back on a beautiful post-hurricane bright blue day. Everything appeared almost "normal."

But on the way back a big slowdown where those detoured from the section of The Sawmill River Parkway that was flooded out joined the road I was on. And once back, it was back to brushing my teeth with water from a plastic bottle and boiling water to use for other tasks because the water treatment plant that flooded isn't back to normal yet. And that's true for many surrounding towns.

And when my youngest and I took a ride through nearby Milburn's downtown section, we passed through where the river goes under some stores and those stores had garbage and debris piled higher than me out front on the sidewalk, garbage and debris that had once been the contents of their stores but had been destroyed by the flooding.

We also passed a giant apartment or condo complex, an old red brick one that spans a few city blocks, with all its streets closed off with police barriers because of downed wires and trees. And half of the streets we drove through were totally black, traffic lights off, streetlights off, house lights off, etc.

All things we've experienced here before (especially with hurricane Floyd in '99), except for the water problems. That seemed more like what happened in Haiti after the quake, when the fear of cholera was raised. As I watched the brackish water (a euphemism that doesn't accurately describe the foul look of it) fill the toilet I'd just flushed several times trying to somehow force cleaner water to return, I thought of what used to be called "third world" water problems, and wondered if the chickens were on their way home to roost.

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