Trying to find out what might have happened to a friend’s house near the water in Westport, CT (I first Googled “Irene Westport” and frustratingly got a list of residents named Irene), I came upon this in a news item about a man stranded on foot just before the hurricane:
It was in Westport that he saw more police officers drive by without asking what he was doing than anywhere else. “I’m just really surprised that no one offered to help me,” he said Sunday. “I know people are really distrusting these days. But you think people are coming together, looking out for each other. No one even asked: Where are you going in the rain?”
This struck me because it matched up with my experience in very different Greenwich Village. I’d had a fantasy that the hurricane would bring the people in my little building together. The scattering of old-timers who’d welcomed me back so warmly and the more transient young people who exchange friendly “Hi!”s at the mailbox would check up on each other, make sure we all had what we needed, make a plan to join forces and even party if the power went out.
None of it happened. Mind you, I didn’t try to make it happen, either. I mostly sat back and waited and observed. Would the young people show any concern for the old loners? Would any of the old-timers welcome the excuse to reconnect? I did check up on my neighbor just below me, a likewise one-year-widowed Irish musician (don’t cry for him, he reportedly already has a girlfriend, an eventuality his dying wife blessed, and is doing well). He was alone but said he had everything he needed and shooed me out pretty quickly, maybe absorbed in something on TV. Throughout the hurricane there was not a knock on the door or a voice in the hallway. (Of course, some had gone away.)
By contrast, enormous caring and concern was expressed by my (and no doubt by everyone’s) social “cloud,” via Facebook, e-mail, and phone.
So here we sit, in adjacent cubicles, wired in to our far-flung, nebulous networks, with physical presence and proximity meaning next to nothing. Only if the power had actually gone out would we have been forced into each other’s company. What’s this all about?? I find it creepy.
UPDATE: In another CT news item, an old man trying to get to a shelter couldn’t, as they say, get arrested:
The retired Bridgeport carpenter woke up in his Isinglass Road home to a power outage that included his phone, so he tried a different way of calling for help.
“I couldn’t call out,” Belus said, “so I got a couple of big pots and pans that I was banging on to signal for help, but I live deep in the woods.” […]
Belus said that he finally drove his car up to the head of his driveway and got out. His initial gestures for help failed as motorists sped by without stopping.
Finally someone pulled over and called local emergency personnel. Belus was driven to the shelter in his Buick by a Shelton firefighter, emerging from the vehicle with his cane and a box of medications.
Meanwhile, I am very concerned to hear from Karen, since Vermont reportedly was hard hit by wind. Karen, I’m sure you have a lot on your hands, and possibly no power, but give us a report when you can. Did all the cows, calves, and horses weather the storm? Did your neighbors look out for each other?