NEW YORK —
Some 10 hours earlier, I was on a conference call with New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, hearing him describe the challenges his disappointing team still faced. Now I was swept up in the biggest natural disaster to hit the New York area in decades, wondering how to protect my family.
It's funny the places your mind wanders sometimes, even in moments of crisis. So the fact that my mother's name is Sandy was at least good for a rueful smile. Even she can't believe now how much death and destruction will be attached to it for, well, forever.
Our neighborhood in the Eltingville section of Staten Island was designated a Zone C area, at very low risk for evacuation during a storm. That's why so few of us were alarmed earlier in the day, when the water from a creek that was part of a planned park poured out onto Arthur Kill Road and up our street at high tide. We thought that would be the worst of it.
Then the wind began whipping up, right around 4 p.m., and that picture-postcard white fence was blown to pieces. Soon after, with everything else we could tie down, board up or cover already secured, and roof tiles flying around like the occasional Frisbee, my neighbors and I headed inside to ride the storm out.
The power was on for two more hours, gone just as Daria was cooking dinner for the kids. They thought it was fun to eat and play by candlelight. But I looked out the window, saw the water from the creek halfway up the street, and it struck me that Sandy hadn't even really hit yet. Then came a frantic knock at the door.
"Dennis!" yelled a neighbor. "Your house is leaking gas!"