I wrote this story with my son, Charles for his son, Ari.
THE DAY HALLOWEEN WAS CANCELLED
By Bubbie and Daddy
Halloween was just three days away. Ari loved his dinosaur costume. It was green and fuzzy and zipped up. He was one-and-a-half and his tiny face peeked out of the dinosaur hood and the tail followed him everywhere. He made Mommy and Daddy zip him into the costume even in summer. So, you can imagine just how much Halloween meant to little Ari when he would be carried through the streets as a baby dinosaur and call out, “Trick or Treat,” and come home with a big, big bag of candy that only a boy and not a dinosaur could eat.
Two days before Halloween, as Daddy pushed Ari in the swing, red and gold leaves were rustling in a warm wind. No one was prepared for what was to come….
At high tide, on the day of the year when the moon was the closest to the earth, eighty mile per mile winds smashed the Jersey shore. The Hoboken Path Station, just blocks away, would soon be submerged like Atlantis. Ari and Daddy and Mommy slept on the top floor of the duplex in case the water came into the first floor. They had two backpacks filled with emergency supplies like flashlights, medicine, water, change of clothes, and diapers in case they had to flee.
During the night, Mommy and Daddy saw a live electric wire coiling and uncoiling like a snake as it sparked in the water in front of their house. Mommy and Daddy began to smell the strong odor of gas that could catch fire. Daddy called 911.
A woman answered, her voice calm. “Can I help you?”
Daddy said, “We live at 89 Adams Street and we see a live downed wire in our front yard and we know we’re supposed to stay in the house, but there’s a gas leak in our backyard. What should we do?”
She asked Daddy to repeat the address and asked again if she heard the information correctly, and Daddy said yes.
She said, “Oh, no…!” and then the line went dead and the power went off in the city.
Mommy and Daddy spent the night at the top of the stairway with Ari, away from all windows, huddled together.
They woke up next morning to a calm and bright day. They looked out the front window. Their home was an island in the middle of the Hudson River. Over three feet of water flowed through both their front and backyards. Luckily, their house was six feet above the street or that water would have been in the apartment. The next-door neighbor had a Lincoln Navigator, a very large SUV. The water came with such force that it carried the Lincoln Navigator twenty feet up against the fence. Mommy and Daddy were grateful that Daddy parked the car in an elevated garage a mile away. Cell phones were out. Electricity was out. There was no way of knowing what was happening in the outside world. There were no Halloween treats for Ari. He spent the rest of the day eating food that was canned or in pouches. But he was too young to realize how serious the situation was. He happily played with Mommy and Daddy as if nothing at all was wrong.
Bit by bit, hour by hour, the water began to recede. The next day was Halloween. Over emergency radio, Mommy and Daddy heard that New Jersey declared a state of emergency. For the time being, Halloween was cancelled.
Within a week, the waters receded, leaving fish carcasses on Mommy and Daddy’s lawn. The city erupted in cries of joy when the lights finally went on.
It wasn’t until the first week of November that Mommy, Daddy, and Ari went trick-or-treating, Ari happy in his dinosaur costume. The stores gave out Smarties and Samosas, Tootsie Rolls, and Tacos, wax lips and water bottles. Everybody came together to do what they could and Ari, the little dinosaur, went home with a big bag of treats.