November 9, 2012
Hurricane no match for human spirit
By TOMMY DREAMER - For SLAM! Wrestling
I canít tell you how many arenas I sat inside and heard a familiar entrance theme hit: "Stand back, thereís a Hurricane coming through!"
That entrance would blast through the arena and bring fans to their feet. For me, that theme has always been synonymous with the large ovation I would hear every time it was played.
It signified the entrance of former WWE superstar Hurricane Helms to the arena. Shane Helms is a good friend of mine. As The Hurricane in WWE, he played a comic book hero come to life and he would always defend his citizens against evil.
Well, I live in New York and we sure wish it had been Hurricane Helms descending upon the city recently instead of what we got. We were hit by Hurricane Sandy and she sure didnít defend her citizens against evil. She was just evil.
Reports of the looming hurricane came as early as five days beforehand. As Sandy moved north, it was all you heard about on the news. I flew home from Charlotte early Sunday, the day before the storm arrived, so I could be home with my family. I didnít want to be stuck somewhere, away from my wife and kids, especially if they were stranded without power.
Media began reporting problems on Sunday. I made all the preparations I could. I brought in all of my lawn furniture, I purchased food and batteries and I loaded up on gas and water. I even went so far as to fill my bathtub with water. I watched the news closely as the storm approached. Every newscaster urged people to take the storm seriously and, honestly, I donít know why anyone wouldnít.
My sister called and said she was asked to evacuate Greenwich, Conn. I made sure my mom and 93-year-old grandmother were OK.
I watched as members of the media reported live in hurricane conditions. I was shocked when New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie delivered a message to residents of Atlantic City: ďWe told you to leave,Ē he said, adding that if they hadnít, they were on their own for at least the next 12 hours later. He also put the townís mayor on notice.
Understandably, the governor didnít want to risk the lives of any people who may be trying to rescue others. His message was a resounding warning: it is time to bunker down, ride out the storm and you are on your own. Then the lights went out.
I wasnít worried about the torrential rain or water damage. I was worried about tree damage from the hurricane-force winds. As expected, broken trees caused a lot of damage. I would hear the cracking and branches hitting my house. I watched my neighbourís fence slowly fall down like an imaginary child was playing with Lincoln Logs and removing one section at a time.
I pulled a mattress down and my kids slept in the centre of my house. They enjoyed the candle-lit room and having flashlights to see. I, however, was forced to tell a small fib to them as they asked if we would be OK. I honestly wasnít sure. We were facing 50-mile-per-hour winds, gusting to 80 mph (80 km/h to 130 km/h for my Canadian friends). You could hear things smashing and crashing, but couldnít see much.
It wasnít until the next morning that we could even begin to survey the utter devastation. Personally, I was lucky, as my house suffered minimal damage. My neighbours were not so lucky, as trees had crashed down into their homes. My very suburban neighborhood looked like a warzone. I removed patio chairs from my trees. The chairs had travelled across the street from a neighbourís. Each weighed about seven pounds and were lodge roughly six feet up in the trees.
I drove to my momís house, which wasnít an easy task because roads were closed due to downed trees or power lines. My momís neighborhood was hit hard as well, though she never lost power or cable TV. There, I watched coverage of the devastation in New York and New Jersey that no doubt many of you have seen.
Hearing countless stories of horrible circumstances ripped at my heart. I even heard of loved ones killed during the storm. My being without power was simply an inconvenience compared to what others suffered.
Grocery stores without food and gas stations without fuel became very serious realities. In fact, police were on hand at every gas station as long lines of cars waiting for what precious little fuel remained. This was not something anyone was used to.
If any thing positive comes amid tragedy, it is when you read about and see the goodness in many people, such as neighbours helping neighbours or people offering up a place to those who have no power.
My daughters were concerned were if the government was going to cancel Halloween.
It came and I took them out trick or treating and it was awesome to see other parents and children out doing the same. It produced a tiny bit of normalcy in an otherwise disastrous time. I would even say it refreshed my ideals of society and people: given the worst possible scenarios, most will try to recover and move forward.
Ironically, after Sandy, I had to travel to New Orleans, no less, to wrestle and escape my ravaged town. Even more ironically, Hurricane Helms himself was booked at the show as well. We talked about the Hurricane Sandy and our families and children.
He opened the show by rescuing a local wrestler, who was getting beaten down by two bad guys, which set up a match later in the evening.
As I heard those famous words, "Stand back, thereís a Hurricane coming through!" followed by the cheers of all in attendance, I had a happy and reflective moment and I thought to myself: All will be OK in my world once again.
Thanks for reading.
Tommy Dreamer is a legendary and influential pro wrestler and a father and husband who has worked for World Wrestling Entertainment, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action. His column appears in the Kingston Whig-Standard and on SLAM! Wrestling. Follow him on Twitter @THETOMMYDREAMER and check out his website at thetommydreamer.com. He can be booked for live appearances through his website. Check out his new, custom-designed T-shirts and merchandise on his website as well.