A Catskill Catalog: October 31, 2012

Before and after. This is one of those times. I write this Monday morning. Rain has not yet started. You read it, at the earliest, Wednesday morning. Rain is a fact.

In fact, Hurricane Sandy is a fact, a tangible presence, as you read. As I write, the storm is merely graphics on a moving Weather Channel map.

Before and after. We don’t have many such moments in our lives. Before labor sets in. After the baby is born. Before hospice care starts. After the passing. Before a storm hits, said to be bigger than Irene. After that storm’s arrived, as you read this.
Reader knows the outcome. Writer is suspended in not knowing. Soon, the storm begins. Now, it has had its way.

I have definite standards to measure the destructive power of Hurricane Sandy. If Freshtown and the Boiceville Market are open next week, damp if a bit sodden, then we made it through okay. If Rocco’s Steakhouse needs a good mop-out, with steaks and music soon to follow, then we made it through okay. If the folks at Sam’s Country Store are pumping gas and selling Lotto tickets Saturday morning, then we made it through okay. If no one in our mountain towns needs to add their house to a list of ruined homes seeking a buy-out program, then we made it through okay.

For the past year, we have watched county crews refashion our streambeds, create new floodplains, encourage the natural flow of water to follow the least destructive path. We’ve seen the implementation of cutting-edge stream science, placed our faith in the scientific expertise and engineering skill of the Soil and Water Conservation Service. We’ve listened to the lectures and witnessed the scale-model demonstrations. Now, a real storm: Irene’s ugly, massive, and mean-spirited sister, Sandy. She’s a handful.

No one should suffer as we suffered a year ago August. No one should have to die in a storm, and no one should have to suffer damage to homes, businesses, whole communities. Nature, of course, says different. So, while I wish Sandy on no one, it is somebody else’s turn.

This time, may we be the white-tee-shirt-wearing volunteers going to help other folks, in other places, recover from the storm. We had our turn.
billbirns@gmail.com