I used to joke that society was only several days without electricity from breaking down into total chaos. That is essentially the logic behind shows like The Walking Dead (and the zombie apocalypse genre in general)–once the genera
l devastation hits, society has exactly as much battery life as the flashlights before people start turning tribal. I’m starting to notice some of this going on around me. Likely, dear reader, you are reviewing this article well after power has been restored to most of the areas affected by the “Frankenstorm” known as Hurricane Sandy which smacked the Eastern Seaboard just before Halloween. I hope that the following observations will serve as reflection and not prophecy…
On Monday, just before the storm hit, a giant tree fell around the corner from my Long Island home and cut the power for my neighborhood. I know this because my neighbor across the street works for the town and his wife informed mine of the reason for the pre-storm blackout. When the storm hit, we watched the darkened skies through our windows snuggled up by candlelight in the living room playing word games and telling stories.
Come Tuesday morning, we felt like we had woken up into an apocalypse. Suddenly, The Walking Dead and World War Z seemed far more clairvoyant rather than witty and imaginative. While the comparison is no doubt trite by now, all I could think of was the movie The Day After Tomorrow as we hastily made contact with friends and family in the low-lying barrier beach neighborhoods of Rockaway and Long Beach, New York. “The ocean met the bay” was a phrase we heard more than once…and to be honest, it sounds more like a Shel Silverstein poem than the description of an actual event. Pictures on the cover of the New York Post and the New York Times look like something out of a Godzilla movie and the reports coming out of the AM Radio about the election possibly being postponed and the President flying in via airplane and helicopter reminded me of Independence Day. Luckily, the hurricane was only Armageddon for an unfortunate few who didn’t live through the day or the aftermath.
On Halloween, we dressed up our children as Batman and a Cupcake respectively (a more dynamic due you couldn’t find in the Zombieless Zombie Apocalypse of Long Island) and trick-or-treated by the cold noon sun. I found solace in knowing that I have a cache of weapons (such as my replica Master Sword and my air powered BB gun…of and the pick-axe in the garage) to hold off the hordes of undead sure to rise in this situation; I was also comforted by the fact that I had Batman with me.
As we surveyed the streets in search of sweet and chocolatey treats for my children, I noticed quite a few things that really did make me think of the impending doom of society should electricity not be restored in a timely manner. Firstly, my neighbor across the street was living in his parked Winnebago in the driveway. I imagined parking a lawn chair on the roof and posting up with a double-barreled shot gun and growing a badass white beard. The next sign came a few houses down the row as I heard the rumble of gas powered generators and saw lights on inside the home…those bastards were hoarding all the lights and heat! A little later we took a voyage out into the remains of small suburban society and saw a gas line on the highway the stretched from several traffic lights. The local diner was out of food. Provisions were running short…and as the gas stations started running out of gasoline it was only a matter of time before mobile devices connecting people to news and internet would have no venue for recharge…and with that venue also goes most people’s radios. Society…at least in Long Island, was hanging by a thread.
This was the way of things by me for several days. We even had to make caravan into the sea swept Rockaways for a night so as to not freeze out. As we tuned into AM radios that at times were not in service or out of range and ran down car batteries to charge our mobile devices I started to realize that my wishes for The Jersey Shore to be wiped out by an act of god had been terribly misunderstood by some divine bureaucrat and that I had better be more careful about what I wished for. By Friday, our power had been restored and with it the heating in our house. To our #firstworldproblems dismay, however, our FiOS internet and cable service would remain out for another week however. Interestingly enough, this put us in a different situation.
In order to tune out with television as we were all itching to do, the family had no resort but to open our way into the DVD chest that had long since been forgotten in the living room. Instead of escaping the zombie apocalypse, we were escaping the apocalypse to become zombies. Suffice to say that eventually our life giving internet was returned, but not before we had become reacquainted with out favorite Disney Classics, Superman : The Movie, and Coming to America (among others) several times. While I was somewhat ready to climb to the top of the bell tower and start shooting Calliou everywhere I looked before the storm, I was fairly relived to see him restored to my television screen at my son’s request-additionally, all of my DLC had been restored to my Xbox, so that was a plus. Also, I was glad that we had all survived of course.
At the end of the day, we didn’t really have it so bad, and things hadn’t gotten to the Batman: No Man’s Land level of batteries and water bottles replacing currency. we did get a little taste of the world of the Zombie Apocalypse. Next time, I think I’ll go on a Twinkie Head Hunt.
In all seriousness, many communities in New York and New Jersey are hurting. If you want to help check out the Red Cross Website and http://www.redcross.org
If you are interested in helping Rebuild the Rockaways, one way is to buy one of these awesome T-Shirts from Barley and Birch—all proceeds go to The Rockaways http://rebuildrockaway.bigcartel.com
Written by: Brandon Melendez