Notes from the Bunker: Sandy Follows Me from the TCT in Miami to Home in New York

MIami Beach Convention Center (left) and Long Island, NY (right)

(L) Palm fronds outside of Miami Beach Convention Center; (R) three days later, oak tree smashed into house on Long Island  (click to enlarge)

As I braved the strong winds and rain of Hurricane Sandy in Miami Beach a little over a week ago in order to hear the latest about stents, angioplasty, renal denervation, aortic valves, and more at the annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) meeting, I wished a number of times that I was just sitting by the fire in my comfortable small home at the eastern end of Long Island.

The wind and rain went sweeping through the Floridian avenues, palm trees bending, fronds flying. Wednesday night and Thursday were the worst. Boston Scientific had to relocate their “Technology Preview” from the rooftop of the Perry South Beach Hotel to a meeting room inside. All of us in the press room at TCT were checking to see if our Friday flights were being cancelled or not.

Turns out Sandy made a right turn out to sea and Friday saw blue skies and little wind. My Southwest flight to Long Island went off smoothly, only a few minutes late, with the usual flight attendant stand-up comedy routine.

Before I left, the predictions already were that Sandy was going to move out to sea, and then gain strength and moisture and come roaring back, smack into Long Island, New York and New Jersey! I couldn’t believe that this storm was following me. Dr. Sigmund Silber commented on this. “You must have done something wrong,” he admonished!

So I landed in Long Island and, on the way home, my wife (wisely) suggested that we stop at the gas station closest to home and fill up. You know, just in case….

So, I watched the Weather Channel and it became clear that this storm, which in Miami just felt like the outer ends of a tropical depression, was now morphing into a very powerful hurricane. On Sunday we moved all our outdoor chairs, kayaks, etc. close to the house, knowing that the high tides on Monday would swamp them and carry them off into the cove on which we live. There was talk of evacuation, but it wasn’t until the high tide that we decided to evacuate — the water was only 20 feet from our deck — higher than it was during Hurricane Bob and Irene. Quickly, we lifted furniture and irreplaceable belongings up onto tables and beds, fearing that the tidal waters would rise up and flood the house. We waded through the two feet of water that had inundated our driveway, got in our car and left to stay with friends.

Soon the winds came and, as trees came crashing down — not palm fronds as in Miami Beach, but big oak trees (see photo above) — power went out, internet went out. But the tides did not go out.

We were spared for the most part. Our house was okay. The East End lost its 25 foot ocean beach dunes. But the tides, the waters, exacted a heavy penalty “up the island”, towards New York City, many hundreds of people lost their houses; in Manhattan almost a million lost power and two hospitals had to be evacuated; in Staten Island 20 lost their lives. And New Jersey got severely slammed, the Jersey shore, Atlantic City Boardwalk, and so on….

We were lucky. A degree change in Sandy’s course could have decimated us. We were lucky….

You can donate to the Red Cross for the relief effort and help families with food, housing and other necessities.

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