I guess they had some plywood left over from Hurricane Isabel? Close enough. Soon after I took this picture, Sea Bright was placed under mandatory evacuation orders, so these determined postmasters didn’t get to follow through on their promise.
So my Kiva Fellowship was supposed to begin last night. At 11 PM on Saturday, I was scheduled to jump on a jet in New York and embark on my two-day journey to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. At the last moment, though, I decided it would be way cooler if a major hurricane were to cancel my flight and strand me nearly underneath the eye of the storm.
My street around 5:30 in the morning, when the floodwaters were about a foot lower than their peak.
My parents live near the Jersey Shore, right in the swath of land that got hit the hardest by Hurricane Irene and suffered the most damage. The winds were manageable, and the storm surge wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but the flooding was the real story here. The ground around here was already saturated from one of the wettest Augusts on record, so much so that when faced with 14 hours of torrential rain, every river, creek, stream, and tiny little trickle in the region just burst its banks. Every major thoroughfare in our town was flooded and impassable. The township fire department was coming down our street in rowboats to evacuate anyone who was stranded in their house and wanted to get out. We didn’t have that option; long story short, if we had abandoned ship, our basement would have been filled floor to ceiling with a constant stream of sewage. So we stayed, and we took shifts bailing out the basement, and we waded through waist-high water in the streets, and we bit our lips as we watched the floodwaters advance to within three feet of our front steps. There were a couple of alarming moments, but we’re all okay here; incredibly, we managed to keep the basement clear, and all of our possessions (save a few valiant towels) remain intact.
It was a rough night. It’s acutely uncomfortable to turn on the news and see a rain-battered disaster-area reporter standing in front of your high school haunts, your childhood beaches, the very house you grew up in. But in the end, we made the best of things.
The maiden voyage of the S.S. Manatee, with my brother serving as skipper.
So. Apologies for the unexpected lack of Tajikistan on this blog. I was busy. To make up for it, I spent part of the night watching Borat to gain a valuable documentary perspective on the cultures and traditions of Central Asia.