Greenwich Gossip

Friday, November 02, 2012

Sandy Pays a Visit

Seems that the period around Hallowe'en is becoming a popular time for Mother Nature to play Trick or Treat with the townspeople of Greenwich. Last year it was the surprise snowstorm that brought the area to its knees; this year it was the so-called "Frankenstorm" that played havoc with us all. What's next, an earthquake? Stay tuned.

So how did Greenwich fare this time around? Depends on whom you ask. Some neighborhoods had power back in less than a day. Others are coming up on a week with no electricity, and no idea when they may get it back. CL&P trucks are thin on the ground; in fact, your scribe has yet to see a single one. One begins to think they're as mythological as the minotaur.

On the other hand, the Town's Public Works department has done an admirable job of clearing up a huge mess. Early Monday morning your scribe got in his car to drive to the Western Greenwich Civic Center for a cup of hot coffee. In the 5 AM darkness, the streets leading north from the Post Road all seemed like something straight out of a Hollywood disaster movie. Pemberwick Road was blocked by a huge fallen tree, looming unexpectedly out of the gloom with no forewarning. Back to Almira and over to Weaver. Then a bit of bobbing-and-weaving around other, lesser fallen trees, until suddenly there was a concatenation of wires overhead just about the height of a car's roof. The way underneath looked enticingly clear, but it was obviously a gamble not worth taking. Back to the Post Road. Then it was up Riverdale to Fletcher to Comly, and another stab at Pemberwick. Oops. Big tree down at the top of the hill. Back to Comly and one final attempt via King Street to Glenville Street. Success!

Well, in a manner of speaking. After recounting his adventures to the staff, who were somewhat incredulous that a newcomer had actually made it through, your scribe discovered that the coffee was lukewarm and half a day old. A new pot was put on, which promptly crashed. (How does a coffee pot crash? "It had issues," was the cryptic answer from the staff.) Moreover, the promised wifi (another reason to make the trek) was as mythological as the cyclops. Radio station WGCH was a crackle of static, though WCBS came in loud and clear. Eventually, there was home-made oatmeal with brown sugar and half-and-half, fruit, pastries, and yes, hot coffee. Well worth the trip, all in all.

The Town's Health Department did a good job of providing food and shelter to a number of local residents, some of whom had been there for two days already. They also provided sustenance to the DPW crews who stopped in before heading out to clear the roads. Thumbs up to them!

And thumbs down to WGCH (World's Greatest Communications Hoax), which has been AWOL since Monday night (it's now Friday morning). Probably the most worthless radio station in the country, it is only listened to by most people for school closings and storm updates. And where was it when it was actually needed? Who knows? It was as mythological as Narcissus, who pined away and died of self-love. An apt metaphor.

So among the lessons of Sandy is the knowledge that our local radio station is not merely the bad joke we already knew it to be, but not really necessary at all. The word is that Greenwich resident Michael Metter, the former CEO who resigned earlier in October under a cloud of securities fraud allegations related to a "pump and dump" scheme concerning SpongeBob SquarePants kids' bath sponges (and no, dear reader, you couldn't make this stuff up even if you tried), had given orders not to replace the station's broken generators. His parsimony has served to alert us all to how insignificant a role this communications dinosaur really plays in our communal life, and thus, one hopes, will help to set the seal on its death warrant.

Meanwhile, our local libraries are being overwhelmed by hordes of out-of-towners, bringing their Starbucks and munchies and rude manners into our midst. The parking lot has become like the dodg'em at the county fair as they fight with each other over non-existent parking spaces. The main library's wifi system quickly went down because of the huge demand overload. It's hard to spot a local face amidst the throngs; as Yogi Berra would say, "Nobody goes there anymore—it's too crowded."

Well, another day is dawning. Will it bring actual CL&P trucks instead of mere rumors? Will the 60% of Town that is still without power receive any relief? Thankfully, the post-Sandy weather has remained relatively mild for this time of year, but it's hard to believe that we in Fairfield County constantly have to revert to third-world status on a regular basis once or twice a year. On the other hand, we got off more lightly than many other areas, especially along the Jersey shore. So let us count our blessings, and be sure to thank the many Town workers who performed so admirably on our behalf. Sometimes it takes an event like Sandy to make us realize how lucky we really are.