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November 2nd, 2012

Exile in Long Island

Day four of post-Sandy... we are now in our fourth day without electricity at the home of my friends, where I have been staying since Friday afternoon. It's beginning to get chilly inside, but thankfully not below freezing. We have been spending most of our time at Dan's office at the local university where he works, which has power... and the internet. But we did have a roaring fire in the fireplace last night, which helped.

This part of Long Island was hit by Hurricane Irene last year, so everyone here was already well-rehearsed for surviving a hurricane. The building where Dan works has a shower for its janitors and a community room with a fridge and a microwave, so there have been a lot of families of the staff hanging out here, adding to the festive atmosphere of the place. Dan's lab has its own microwave and fridge, which helps out quite a bit. The places where he and his wife Léonie work are both still closed for business, for the foreseeable future.

We were relatively lucky... we had power until about 4:30 pm on Monday, as the storm was increasing, and by the time the worst passed, around 10 pm, there had been no major damage done to their house. (We spent the time in the dark, playing various "guess what I am thinking of" games of the sort that Léonie played when she was growing up in England.) Other houses in the neighborhood did not fare so well, however, with a number of fallen trees including several that hit houses and one that blocked the end of their street.

Last night we had dinner at the home of friends who have a gas range. Dinner by candlelight, quite charming. (No candles with my friends; they have too many active cats!) Those friends also have a huge tree that toppled from across their street, blocking the road and filling their front yard; to reach their driveway, we had to lift a yellow "crime scene" ribbon stretched across the road. They were without power for eight days after Irene, and they expect this time will be even longer.

The major issues for us now are that most of the traffic lights are still out, and most of the gas stations are either closed or limiting supplies. This makes any sort of travel difficult at best. A few of the major stores are open, so we're in no danger of running out of food, and the water supply where we live is fine. So mostly it's like an extended camping trip... with no fixed date as to when it will be over. At least, not for them.

My flight to Rome last Tuesday was cancelled, obviously. I had a tentative booking for Saturday, but that fell through, too. At the moment I do have a confirmed flight that will go JFK - Boston - London - Rome on Sunday which should get me home in Rome on Monday afternoon.

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