First an earthquake and then a hurricane. I fully expect the east coast to be hit with swarms of locusts next week followed by a plague of frogs.
It was impressive in the run-up to Hurricane Irene how hospitals and nursing homes in low-lying areas of many cities worked to evacuate patients. This description of the process at Coney Island Hospital doesn't begin to cover all the necessary details:
”The parade of 15 newborns, two children and 248 adults in various states of distress started early Friday. Sixteen were on ventilators. They lined up in the hospital's foyer one by one and were loaded into a line of awaiting hospital and for-hire ambulances.
“The retreat lasted until 7:43 p.m., with some doctors and nurses for critical and specialty-care patients joining them at their new hospitals.”
Think of it: finding hospitals on higher ground with enough space, arranging for medical records to accompany patients along with medications, those ventilators, drip bags and all manner of other equipment needed to keep patients stable and alive.
It was amazing how well the evacuations were organized as were those of many assisted living and nursing homes in the eastern coastal states. And I saw one television news report about a young man boarding up windows for his elder neighbors; another about volunteers sandbagging elders' homes.
If Hurricane Irene were not so terrible for literally millions of people, the wall-to-wall news coverage over the weekend would have been a relief from daily drumbeat of awful political news we live with these days. But to keep Hurricane Irene from being a completely loathsome-free disaster, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor leapt into the breach.
The tea party favorite, who represents Virginia where several people were killed in the hurricane and the governor declared a state of emergency, proved the underlying meanness of the Republicans in general and the tea party in particular.
Even before the hurricane hit land, Cantor reiterated his requirement first voiced after the earthquake that any federal disaster relief funds be offset with cuts elsewhere in the budget:
"When there's a disaster there's an appropriate federal role and we will find the monies," Cantor said during a news conference in Mineral, Va. "But we've had discussions about these things before and those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere in order to meet the priority of the federal government's role in a situation like this."
Oh, so if elders are rescued in a natural disaster, their Social Security will be cut, is that it?
As Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond responded: "It is sinful to require us to cut somewhere...in order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens.”
If the good citizens of Virginia don't unseat Cantor in next year's election, they deserve him. Unfortunately, if they don't, the rest of us are stuck with him too.
For the 40-odd years I lived in New York City and Maine, I felt fortunate that we did not experience extreme weather as much of the rest of the country does – only a blizzard every decade or so and they are more fun than dangerous.
At the risk of provoking kanahara (Yiddish for curse or jinx), I feel equally sanquine about the weather in northwest Oregon where I live now. Beyond the potential for an earthquake, it mostly just rains a lot although not enough for much flooding.
But many TimeGoesBy readers live on the east coast from Florida to Maine. So tell us your hurricane stories in the comments below (if you have power and an internet connection). How did you fare? Did you evacuate? How did you prepare? Is everyone okay?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Ralph Lymburner: Dancing with the Stars (Senior Version)