The bride-to-be mentioned to me a couple of times that rain on one’s wedding day is considered good luck.
So what do you suppose an earthquake before and a hurricane afterward portend?
Considering what happened to many of our neighbors in the Stockade and to residents of the Schoharie Valley, you won’t hear us utter a single complaint about the inclement weather. We were fortunate — enduring nothing more than some mild inconvenience.
And we actually had splendid weather for our big day, even if the specter of Irene was a worrisome guest at the festivities.
The rain didn’t actually begin until we were on our way home from the reception on Saturday night, but it continued all night and into the following day.
Our electricity died early Sunday evening, and the police began urging people to head for higher ground. They drove slowly through the neighborhood and bellowed warnings over a loudspeaker.
Finally, later in the evening, when it became apparent that most people were leaving, we decided it made sense to get out. With family pooch Maggie in tow, we headed for the home of friends in the country who had invited us to stay with them.
A new problem confronted us, however. We found we couldn’t get there from here because of road closures. Finally, we called our hosts who guided us by cellphone over a circuitous alternate route.
Along the way, Maggie, who sensed that something was amiss, whined miserably and climbed into Beverly’s lap. It wasn’t a big problem; Beverly has driven with a dog in her lap before.
When we at last arrived at our haven, our hosts guided us in with flashlights. Halfway down the drive, a big locust tree had toppled, just missing utility lines.
The following morning, we gulped down some coffee and then headed back toward home but again found ourselves detoured over and over again. We wanted breakfast and, fearful there was still no power at home, we checked out places to eat. The first few were without power, but we found the Point Cafe at Helderberg and Guilderland avenues was open, and it was packed with patrons, many of them refugees like ourselves.
It was at the Point that we met Karen and Dave, whom we invited to share our table and who insisted on buying us breakfast after learning we were storm-tossed newlyweds.
We weren’t allowed to drive back into the Stockade so we parked the car and hiked in. Our suspicions were correct: there was no electricity.
Our hosts of the night before wanted us to return. We arrived back after dark, this time toting the contents of our freezer — mostly meat — in coolers. Our hosts stashed most of it in their freezer and grilled the rest for our dinner.
I felt like we were the British kids in London who were sent to the country during the blitz. We went to bed grateful to have friends with a large house and warm and comfortable beds available for sudden guests.
The next day we returned to the Stockade and were able to drive in. The floodwaters, the color of milk chocolate, had risen higher than anyone could remember, but now were beginning to recede. But, they had invaded the homes of many of our neighbors, some of whom will be displaced for as long as six months.
We walked down to the river and watched the raw display of nature with a combination of awe and sadness.
There were scores of gawkers, and I tried hard not to resent them. A disaster is only tragic, it seems, when it touches us personally or someone we care about.
When our power was restored that afternoon we spent some time contacting all the people who had left us messages or sent us emails telling us they had room for us if we needed to evacuate our home.
Good friends, we told each other more than once, are truly a blessing.
Irv Dean is the Gazette's city editor. Reach him by email to email@example.com.