Good Night Irene
Tuesday, September 13, 2011 • 4:12am
When I drove down Springfield Avenue in Cranford a couple of mornings ago, the curbs were lined with debris from Hurricane Irene. All the stuff most of us have in our basements -- grandma’s old furniture, the original kitchen cabinets and comfy couches the kids could sit on while watching TV were piled in a continuous, soggy mess. Seeing the massive amounts people’s destroyed personal items had more dramatic impact on me than seeing the pictures of water rushing over Little Falls or rowboats on streets in Paterson and other NJ cities because it signified disrupted lives.
I live on a street named Canoe Brook Parkway, with an adjoining street named Wade Drive. Just the street names should tell you something about the potential hazard from rising water in my neighborhood, but we were lucky.
We don’t have a basement. Our house has a crawl space. I hate going down there. I joke that the height is appropriate for Snow White’s dwarves. It is filled with 40 years of accumulated stuff. You know, those things that are not good enough to use anymore but too good to throw out. Fortunately, I convinced my wife to make sure everything was off the floor before Irene visited and though about 60 gallons of water made its way onto the floor, nothing got ruined.
But even tragedy brings opportunity. Here is a piece of devious but practical advice for all you parents of now grown-up children. If you, like me, have had no success getting daughters (or sons) to go through their Middle School clothing and High School notebooks so they can sort important memorabilia from garbage, this is your chance. All that stuff your kids won’t let you part with but clutters your lives – tell them it was ruined by Irene! It worked for me. I was able to dispose of several boxes of pure junk that somehow migrated to the crawl space.
The only other casualty of our flood was the carpet in my home office, which got soaked. In a moment of thrift I thought I could dry it out with a puny space heater, but after a day the whole room smelled like a combination of burning rubber and a bad mulch pile. The carpet had to go.
Moving the furniture, pulling up the carpet and drying the floor underneath was a big job. After three days my arms and legs ached and I was fed-up by the disruption to my normal life. Then I started thinking of all those people whose personal lives were piled by the curb for the sanitation department to take away. It made me appreciate what a devastating experience Irene must have been for those folks who live on Springfield Avenue in Cranford and all the others who were flooded out. My heart goes out to them.
Henry Bassman has lived in Summit, NJ for close to 40 years. He has been married for more than 40 years and has three daughters who graduated from Summit High School. Henry retired from AT&T where he wrote about high-technology science and engineering. He now is affiliated with a small investment bank that specializes in biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare issues, about which he often writes. Articles by Henry can be seen on ABCNews.com and other business Web sites.
Henry Bassman has written about high-technology and medical technology (biotechnology, medical devices and healthcare issues) for more than 40 years. He retired from AT&T, served in the U.S. Army where he became a captain and worked for ABC News. He is now affiliated with a small investment bank. Articles by Henry can be seen on ABCNews.com and other business Web sites. Henry has lived in Summit, NJ for 37 years and has been married for more than 40 years. He has three daughters who graduated from Summit High School.
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