Seraphic Secret has not, so far, written about Hurricane Sandy (what a terrible name for such a devastating storm) because, frankly, we had nothing original to say. We all know that nature is pitiless, government services fail, and neighbors help neighbors while politicians pose and preen.
Seraphic Secret has one daughter in Teaneck and one in Queens. Both are okay, thank G-d.
We also have an elderly relative who lives in Long Beach, a beloved aunt. Aunt X is, um, kind of stubborn. So when the order to evacuate was given, she just hunkered down in her second-floor apartment, saying: “What do they know? This is my home. I’m staying.”
On the phone, before the storm hit, a concerned Seraphic Secret called Aunt X.
“You have to evacuate.”
“You won’t have electricity, you won’t have fresh water, the toilet won’t flush, you won’t have any phone service, you will be cut off. Plus, you’re on the second floor, just a few blocks from the beach. The water might flood your apartment. It’s going to get positively medieval.”
“They always exaggerate.”
“That’s true. But this time I think they’re right. Please, get out.”
Predictably, Aunt X stayed put.
The storm raged, and we could not reach Aunt X. The TV images of coming out of Long Beach were of Noah’s flood.
Enter cousin Alice Feiring, the famous wine critic, who has written about kosher wines for Seraphic Secret. Cousin Alice, also unable to reach Aunt X and worried sick, tried to rent a car so she could drive out to Long Beach to rescue her.
Finally, Alice went on Facebook and asked her friends if she could borrow a car. A Facebook friend came through, offering to drive Alice out to drowning Long Beach.
There, Alice found Aunt X lighting her last candle. No water, no electricity, no phone service, a primal existence.
“Pack up,” said Alice. “I’m taking you out of here.”
“No, I have to stay. There might be looters.”
“You’re over 80 years old. What are you going to do against looters?! Pack. Up.”
Aunt X is now with another cousin in a safe area. My cousin Alice — officially my hero — is staying with friends on the Upper West Side because her downtown apartment does not have electricity or water.
“I’m a refugee,” said Alice to me on the phone a few minutes ago. “But I’m luckier than so many others.”
Aunt X, feisty as ever, joked: “I don’t know how people in the Middle Ages managed.”
Suffering is widespread. We urge those who can to help those who are in need, and for all of us to contribute to reputable charities. Do not count on government assistance. It is neighbors, communities and first-responders who always come through, while government agencies usually contribute to the mess.
We’d also like to mention that cousin Alice, an excellent wine critic and a best-selling author, has just started a new venture, The Feiring Line, a private newsletter for wine connoisseurs . If you love wine, click here and subscribe.