The Month Behind

November? What November?

I’m writing this on Thursday night, and a month ago tonight, I sat in my apartment  as the full force of Sandy hit New York City. That night, we knew it was bad, but not how bad it would be. With an almost guilty sense of good fortune, I can say that beyond some downed trees and a few hours of internet and cable loss, my neighborhood was untouched: we are on the water but high above it. Not very far away, DUMBO and Red Hook were not so lucky.

I was supposed to leave for the Breeders’ Cup that week, to make my first trip to Santa Anita. While I can’t praise enough the efforts and communication of Jet Blue to get me another flight–which they did–the uncertainty regarding transport to the airport—no subways, gas in short supply—and our school schedule meant that the prudent choice was to stay home.

So what’s been going on?

Well, Aqueduct opened, four days after Sandy hit. I watched some of the Breeders’ Cup from there, but it was funny: the event that seemed so all-consuming and important in other years—whether I was there or not—seemed terribly distance and insignificant, and I missed a lot of it. The high point for me was the Trinniberg/The Lumber Guy exacta in the Sprint, two horses I’ve liked for a while finding success on one of racing’s biggest days.

On Breeders’  Cup Friday–also Aqueduct opening day–I was invited out to Broad Channel, one of the areas hardest hit by the storm, by a trainer with family there. While we visited a family whose first floor had recently seemed like more of a swimming pool than a living space, talk turned to another branch of the family in Belle Harbor, also without heat or lights, living a block from the water, taking the first steps to recover their home, and a discovery they had made while beginning the clean-up.

Miraculously, he was still there a couple of hours later when I drove out to Rockaway to see if I could find him, nestled between the garage and a fence, sleeping among shards of broken glass, no feline relatives nearby…but that was far less miraculous than the fact that he had survived at all, on a street down which, three and a half days earlier, boats had made their way along flooded streets, and entire houses had been swept away. The vet said that he was about five weeks old, and though we started him with a bottle, he was more than happy to give it up for the kitten food we gave him just a few minutes later.

He is, unsurprisingly, something of a fighter: initially living in the bathroom, he tolerated that for about three days before making it known loud and clear that he found it much more fun to be out with the big cats and the humans, and that, really, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Today marks his four-week anniversary with us, and there’s a chance that the family in whose yard I found him will adopt him when he is old enough, and when they are able.  For now, we’re calling him Rocky.

Back at the races, the New York Racetrack Chaplaincy threw its resources into storm relief, collecting donations and volunteering in Long Beach. According to Chaplain Humberto Chavez, many backstretch workers offered their services, wanting to help as their jobs permitted. More to come soon on holiday initiatives from the Chaplaincy and the Belmont Child Care Association, whose annual party for the children will happen on December 8th.

I hope that all of you weathered the storm without too much distress, and that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Back, I hope, to regular blogging next week…

2 thoughts on “The Month Behind

  1. Glad you survived it OK. We did as well. We were supposed to fly out to the BC on Monday for a week’s vacation, but cancelled flights at Logan didn’t allow us out until Friday, so at least we had a long weekend. Flew Virgin America, who were very helpful to get us to CA.. 95 glorious degrees each day out there. You’ll love Santa Anita next year. We can’t wait.

  2. Glad you got out there, Rich, and had a good time, and really glad to hear that you all survived the storm OK. Hope we get to say hi there next year —

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