There is a kind of poetry in living without power. All the blankets in the house on one bed. Invigorating cold showers. A fire crackling in the grate all day. Tea lights in mason jars stationed all over the house. No Internet. No television. The company of good friends who play some cut-throat games of UNO and extend hospitality to those who need shelter. Communal meals. Guitars instead of radio.
There is no poetry whatsoever in being in a neighborhood that’s been flooded by seawater. The streets in my neighborhood are littered with debris. The stuff from the ocean is slimy but not so bad. The garbage from the trash cans that weren’t tied down and taped shut is pretty gross. The National Guard is standing sentinel at all the entrances to our neighborhood. Residents wander around, looking a little lost, cadging cigarettes and stepping over piles of detritus.
I suppose there was a wild beauty to the storm itself. One neighbor, describing the high tide that she watched swirl into her basement, told us that the water “was so happy.” She said that the water came in so fast that cars were moved. I don’t have any photos for you this year. We evacuated to the home of some generous friends and stayed there for days.
This is the second time in as many years that we’ve been flooded by a storm surge that coincided with a full moon. We were lucky – the flood stayed in the basement.
I’ve seen some people online criticize us and the people who live in our neighborhood for living near the shore. But the house we’re in is the home we’ve inherited. Until last year, it never flooded. This is the second 30-year storm in two years, who knows what will happen next year. So maybe we will move. Or maybe we will move the boiler and the fuse box up to the first floor and prepare to weather the climate change for as long as we can.