You Call This A Barricade?

Allan Appel PhotoAs he arrived to rescue me mere hours before Hurricane Sandy’s winds were to attack the Quinnipiac River, my friend Mark Aronson said he envied me—and couldn’t figure out why I was leaving.

The city ordered Front Street dwellers like me to evacuate our homes and move to safer ground. So shortly after 8 a.m. Monday Aronson arrived and helped me load a suitcase into his car for my temporary (I hope!) sojourn with him in East Rock.

He had a unique perspective on the Fair Haven exodus: He thought it was for the birds.

Aronson is an ornithology expert. (Read about that here.)

To him the storm presented an opportunity.

“I’m insanely jealous,” Aronson said as we surveyed the living room, with its rugs taken upstairs, low-lying books raised to higher shelves, all lamps unplugged from low-lying sockets, and the Cascade dishwashing detergent lifted from under-sink cupboard to counter top. “If I were you I’d stay, and spot great pelagic birds blown in by the storm. Like the bridled tern and the sooty tern and Leach’s storm petrel.”

Preparation? Or Psychology?

Aronson made another observation before we departed Fair Haven for East Rook.

“You know,” he remarked, evaluating my jerry-rigged barricade against Sandy’s expected ten-foot surge, “wood floats.”

I’ll admit that I may not have been Fair Haven’s savviest storm planner.

Coming late to the effort Sunday afternoon, I had bought duct tape and a nine-by-twelve-foot tarp at Lowe’s. Then I madly taped the tarp to the French doors that look out on a small bricked patio that in turns looks out on the increasingly turbulent Quinnipiac River.

I taped the tarp to the wooden jambs. Then I dropped at each of the corners a sand bag that an Oyster Cove condominium neighbor had kindly given me. She and her partner had prepared well: They had bought a pallet-full of the heavy sand bags at Lowe’s and didn’t need them all.

To anchor the tarp at the weak point where the doors meet, I piled two pieces of heavy outside furniture, a cast-iron table and an Adirondack chair.

Had I done a good job? Who knew? I had been out of state during Tropical Storm Irene. This was the first hurricane-level storm I’d every prepared for.

Could you even call this preparation?

One neighbor took a look at the duct taping he had done on his own garage. Then, after regaling me with the expected height and power of the apocalyptic surge, the Katrina-style storm of the century, he looked at my handiwork. He shrugged.

“It makes you feel better” that you have done something, he observed.

At least I tried.

Previous installment of Allan Appel’s storm diary:

• Venice Comes To Front Street

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posted by: Tessa Marquis on October 31, 2012  10:41am

So what was the outcome?

I ask because some of the sandbags my neighbor used to hold her patio in place are now inside my crawlspace along with most of her patio. They arrived via the storm surge that took out part of my foundation.

It appears that sandbags are projectiles.