Weathering Hurricane Irene on Long Island with lobster, Four Loko and candles

At the beach across the street from my house on Long Island, the reeds showed how high the water had risen during the storm.

On the eve of Hurricane Irene, I got a whiff of nostalgia and wanted to spend it on Long Island with my family where we had weathered Hurricane Gloria and Bob. It was counterintuitive, potentially irresponsible but if there was going to be that much hype, I wanted to be in the eye of it and lose electricity, if possible.

My family lives in a revolutionary war-era town on the north shore of Long Island, home to the Battle of Setauket, a massacre at Roe Tavern and troop quartering in the local churches–the episcopal church for the British and the Presbyterian for the Patriots–where bullet holes still stand testament to the war of independence. In modern times, the town became known for the #1 lacrosse team in America with regular ESPN visit. We also had a multi-faceted student body, where it was entirely acceptable to be the star lacrosse player and the star of the theater arts group.

On Saturday night, the fire trucks had circled our neighborhood–a peninsula on Long Island sound called Strong’s Neck–telling us of mandatory evacuation. We live on a hill and my father staunchly refused to leave, as my mother yelled and tried to find a hotel–and I continued following Twitter reports of the storm. By morning, the damage was obvious. Strong’s Neck was now Strong Island, the one access road flooded. Some of the trees are probably several hundred years old and did not stand up to the test of Irene, one crashing through the roof of a neighbor and more falling onto power lines. We  did  lose electricity near the tail end of the storm and now at mid-afternoon Monday there is no sign of its return.

I found this highly coveted Four Loko on our lawn after the storm, sadly already consumed:

On Sunday night, we ate dinner to candlelight: a random mix of American, Taiwanese and Korean cuisine. After dinner, we moved the candelabra to the family room. My grandparents recounted WWII stories from Taiwan. They had shelters in the dirt beneath their houses for air raids and window covers so that the bombers wouldn’t target their homes. My grandmother told of the B29 she saw fall out of the sky on route home from school once and how she hid in the forest when she was caught outside during an air raid. My grandfather is a survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima–he didn’t talk about that this time–but he spent the war drafted into the Japanese military in Hiroshima, despite being a Taiwanese citizen and only in high school. My parents spoke of the post-war military training they had to do as protection against Communism when they were teenagers, my 4 ft 11 inch-tall mom having struggled at the shooting range.  It all reminded me of how the global landscape has changed since WWII. In elementary school we still had Cold War drills against nuclear attack, but that stopped by junior high. Now we fear terrorism in far-off lands and natural disasters.

Candlelight dinner in the Young household

Today, we headed to one of our favorite dives–the Tara Inn–for their “Hurricane Lobster Special.” This place has everything you could need and it stayed open all through the storm–a long Irish bar with cheap drinks, scratch-off drink prizes, Erotic Photohunt and arcade games, and a Stimulus Menu that includes burgers, french fries and beer from $1.00-$1.50. They used to have a $9.99 lobster special that came with soup, salad and fries but it seems the recession hit them too. And like the neighborhood joint where everyone knows your name, sitting at the bar were two of my dad’s patients. One he had saved by sending her for a full heart transplant.

 My dad made me take this photo, saying he had carefully posed the bodyless lobsters for me:

 Poker players, loose women and Rudolph Guiliani:

Whereas some of our Untapped writers “survived’ Zone C in Manhattan, I was happy to be home with my family. Monday afternoon, the trains aren’t running and my mom is out of gas, so I’m still stuck here indefinitely.

The Tara Inn
1519 Main Street
Port Jefferson, NY 11777
(631) 473-9602  

 hurricane, long island, Urban Getaway

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