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Dear Northeast: Welcome to our world

Hey y’all! Yes, y’all, because we’re family now. The kind of family that occurs when a group of people endure the same suffering, the same tragic circumstances of being told your beloved city is about to be destroyed by forces beyond your or anyone else’s control.

We in New Orleans finally understand what it’s like to be on the other side, watching TV and hovering next to our phones on full volume, waiting to hear from friends and family that they’re OK.

Some might say, “Wow, two storms in a year. If you live there, you’re asking for it.”

That’s what some of y’all said about New Orleans, I think. But don’t worry—we won’t hold it against you. You get it now. CNN, the Weather Channel, experts and laymen are all saying that this is going to be the bad one, the one that has been on its way for years to come to wreck your home. You are woefully unprepared, they say. You’ve never seen anything like this, and hopefully, you never will again. You hope everyone is overreacting, but how can you really know? No one can predict the fallout.

My advice: Don’t listen. They know as much as you do for certain, which is basically that there’s going to be wind and there’s going to be rain.

That being said, don’t be stupid. More fatalities occur after the hurricane than during the storm itself. We get it. You’re New Yorkers. You’re hardcore. Your winters make ours look like summer vacation and you’re the only city in the United States with a comparable cockroach problem. But while bravery is admirable, recklessness is not, and you have to mind the difference.

People are going to blame the hurricane on the sinful blue states, with their acceptance of gay people and enthusiasm for Octoberfest (looking at you, Boston). Enjoy being called a bastion of sin. It’s a badge of honor given to cities that embrace their citizens for the glorious people they are, people who know how to throw a good party.

Speaking of parties, from what I hear, a lot of y’all are throwing hurricane parties. Good for you! We invented it, sure, but we’re so glad to have you on board. Cook up as many of your perishables as you can and BYOB, preferably cheap beer, which is far more tolerable cold. Keep in mind, though, that once the power is out, you’ll be running on cereal and peanut butter and won’t be able to grab a cheeseburger the next morning, so the hangover will be fierce if you don’t watch it. And the wind isn’t going to stop howling just because you have a headache.

Do the one thing that you never get enough of: sleep. Don’t set an alarm. The power will be out, holding you accountable to very little. No TV to distract you, no Internet to suck you in, and your phone only has so much battery life.

The author’s Isaac fort, complete with Girl Scout cookies, an obvious essential

Turn it all off and let the rain lull you to sleep. Hurricane Isaac was the most well-rested I’ve been in my adult life. I slept through almost the entire storm in a fort in my stairwell. You won’t realize how tired you’ve been every day in the recent past until you wake up after your storm hibernation. You may be the city that never sleeps, but you get to now. Rest—you’ve earned it.

Celebrate the break from technology. Your battery life is limited, and you’ll want to save it until after the storm to let loved ones know you’re safe. Play board games. They’re likely to get pretty intense, so remember that you’re stuck with these people for the duration of the storm; cheating at Scrabble might not be worth it. Who knows, you may actually make it through an entire game of Monopoly. Read a book. Yes, a real, live, paper-and-glue book. Pretend you’re Abraham Lincoln (top hat optional, but encouraged) and light some candles. Cozy up with that someone special and bask in the romantic glow. This is particularly important if you lose power and water and can’t shower for a few days, as candlelight is infinitely more flattering than a flood lamp.

Recognize that, though the next few days, likely weeks, are going to be hard, this is an experience you will have whether you like it or not, so make the most of it. Enjoy the time you have with the people you are with. Whether you like it or not, these are your Hurricane People, and when you remember Frankenstorm years down the road, they will be in your memories.

We have a saying down here, that you’re a New Orleanian wherever you are. You’re a New Yorker, Bostonian, Washingtonian, and everywhere else, too, inherently, by virtue of living there, investing in the culture, being a part of the zeitgeist. You contribute. Where you come from runs through your veins. Seeing your city in the projected path is offensive to your very being. How dare Sandy? How dare she?

There is something we New Orleanians have in common with you: resilience. You’re not going anywhere. You have history because you’ve earned it. Who knows, maybe five years from now folks will be crediting the comeback from this storm to your Super Bowl win.

Just know that no matter what happens, your city will endure. It will because it has to. Believe in your city. We sure do.

Anna Shults is associate editor of NolaVie.


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[…] Hurricane Sandy made landfall Monday, October 29, 2012 and for most states in the Northeast the impacts are the worst anyone has ever seen from any weather system.  New Jersey in particular, my home state, barred some of the worst impacts leaving many shore communities underwater and making downtown Atlantic City look like Canal Street in downtown New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (yes, I said it, minus the looting).  A local New Orleans blogger gave some tips to the Northeast on how to deal with power outages and how to deal with clean up; you can read the humorous post here. […]

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