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Hurricane Sandy and Brooklyn Families

Sandy bring Steph closer to family, friends, and city

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It was the opposite storm, in more ways than one.

Last year, when Hurricane Irene was blowing in, we high-tailed it to Chicago to avoid its wrath. But this year, I was on a plane headed for home, having cut short a trip to make sure I was with my kids and husband and dog during the storm, weathering it with neighbors and friends. Brooklyn, after all, is my home.

And last year, we got off easy, as a weakened Irene skirted past us, doing little damage. But this year, we weren’t so lucky.

Especially outside of Park Slope.

On Sunday it was hard to contemplate 90-mile-an-hour gusts as the wind picked up that night and the sky grew dark, and it was impossible to imagine the storm surges that flooded our tunnels to Manhattan.

We dined with friends and the kids — oblivious to the growing nervousness around them — played “Minecraft.” Later, as I lay in bed plotting and planning, imagining where in our apartment filled with windows we might hover if we had to, Eli crawled in with me.

“I can’t sleep,” he said. “I don’t know why.”

I hesitated a bit before asking, not wanting to make him afraid if he wasn’t.

“Are you afraid about the storm?” I asked quietly.

“No,” he said, and turned his back against me before falling fast asleep.

During the day on Monday I made pumpkin muffins and toffee bars to stave off boredom and feel like I had some modicum of control. I grilled up sausages and stir-fried chicken. We went next door to share food with neighbors as the hour neared for Sandy to make landfall. Once the windows were shut, the howling wind could hardly be heard, and the floods pictured on the news seemed as far away as the images of New Orleans during Katrina.

The kids took breaks from the game for some chicken, and flew in repeatedly for toffee bars. Even the dogs were calm and cool, stretched across the floor in angles, asleep.

As parts of our city were fast devastated by the wind and surf, we drank wine and worried, less and less for ourselves and more and more for those less fortunate than us who had been evacuated or had lost power or had lost their homes entirely. Our little piece of Park Slope miraculously escaped unscathed.

But we knew this was no small thing. This was an unprecedented disaster.

The kids walked in at one point and saw the images of the waves washing over Battery Park City and into the Battery Tunnel.

“Whoa,” they said.

We went to bed with howling winds. “Yesterday, when I woke up, and you asked if I was scared…” Eli said as I lay with him in bed. “I think I was.”

I slept in the kids’ room for my own sense of safety as the winds had died down on their side of the house, less so on mine. Sleep came relatively easy. Fear is tiring.

In the days since then, as schools and offices remain closed, as large portions of the subway are shut down for the foreseeable future, it is more and more clear how life here will again be changed for a while.

Hurricane Sandy is a reminder that we are not in control, much as we pretend we are when we demand that latte just how we like it.

I try to breathe deeply during these days and not decide anything past the next few moments, unclear what I can expect or count on amidst the wreckage of my beloved city.

But I’m still very glad I’m here.

At home.

Read Fearless Parenting every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com. This week's column appears on Friday because of The Brooklyn Paper's storm coverage.

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