In anticipation Irene sprang high off my lap seconds before a loud knock pounded my door, “You are in a potential flooding zone” yelled a NYPD Cop, emergency management has announced last minute mandatory evacuations for your area, if you plan to stay and weather the storm, your on your own, sign this waiver please. After a week of poor economic news and a 5.8 earthquake with epicenter in Richmond, VA, this new disaster warning triggered post traumatic memories fresh in the collective New Yorker psyche. I could not believe what the officer was telling me. He handed me the list of shelters city wide. I immediately saw my neighbors the Goldwyns, packing their car with several bags, boxes and their two miniature bull terriers; “they don’t welcome pets, we are out of town.” “The bridges and mass transit system will be shut down shortly” announced the Policemen. I had a flash back to 911 when Manhattan became closed off. It had been hours of rainy clouded columns of grey sky, when already wrecked nerves led millions to empty out supermarket shelves and convenient stores in frantic search’s for supplies. Fighting for batteries and essentials, jittery lines at the grocery took hours to reach the register. I saw people getting swarms of candy and popcorn as if the lock down meant media hype just for fun and freakish entertainment. Sick to my stomach I could not contain my angst. The live coverage of this tropical “reality show” threatened to inundate miles of residential areas up the eastern continental sea board. Across 5 states, mandatory evacuations led millions to second homes, family and shelters. As I recovered on the sidewalk, I noticed down the street disaster response teams setting up sand barricades, at that moment I remembered that my homeowners insurance did not cover flood damage. Desperately checking my iphone for pet shelters, I panicked, who would take care of my old cat Irene. I started to shake, as I stuffed my backpack with, keys, maps, credit cards, passport, mortgage, deeds, utilities receipts... Racing thoughts confirmed my worst nightmare unfolding before me, in a swing of natural rapture I was about to loose it all, the whole rug swept from underneath, no attachments, no addictions, no familiar way of life. I had to leave Irene with enough food and water to last 5 day’s. My black silverish ally cat had belonged to my deceased uncle Erwin. I closed the door behind me as she purred and scrambled into quantum decoherence. Like fascist ghettos, emergency management had deployed disaster camps with a congested registration at the door, only admitting residents with proper utility receipts and identification. Thousands of bunker beds bumped up long lines to the bathroom. Meals had been rationed, with little communication to the outside, we all felt despaired and broken. Homeland security enforced mandatory vaccinations and fingerprinting, we all walked around with electronic chip badges. After hours of surveillance, the loud anxious distressed cell phone chattering grew louder. Regular public announcements in three languages, amplified the sobbing sighs of rich and poor, black, white, Polish, Jews, Latinos and Chinese. The crowded warehouse facility, gave me a glimpse of how the millions of displaced African American families in New Orleans might have felt after Katrina. The lobby area had a giant tent with a dinning floor designated area, on every corner big plasma TV screens tracked the storm updates, a news hour story leaked that occupation-backed Libyan rebel forces had indiscriminately killed, mistreated and tortured thousands of innocent black migrants in detention camps. How could this be happening, all in the name of Liberty? If enough good people stood together we would be able to stop this new genocide. Facing facts and getting upset was only dependent on a lingering hope that a return to normalcy was just around the corner. Deterring to mental strategies I shut my eyes and pretended to enforce my ability to affect my own destiny. Maybe this way it will all go away. I could not believe that up to just a few hours ago, I was planning my seasonal weekend trip to the Jersey shore. Next day I turned over almost falling out of my shaky cot, a talking head came up close disclosing news on how the disappointing century storm had been degraded, I could go home now. Perhaps this had all been staged by the new world order apparatus. To them this emergency disaster situation had been but a ruthless exercise in what is about to become routine. Death does come to us all, but not until then my old cat Irene was both dead and alive. I secretly slid the key to my apartment door unlocking this paradox.
Carlos Cuellar Brown