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September 29, 2003

Hurricane Disrupts Greek Life in DC

Hurricane Isabel wreaked havoc in the DC area, causing power outages, flooding, property damage and days missed off of work and school. As bad as we had it here, it wasn't as bad as the TV coverage back in Greece made it out to be. Over the past couple of years with record snowfalls, hurricanes, and other weather phenomena hitting the DC area, many of our relatives back in Greece have gotten the sense that we're in danger of being washed away, blown away, or buried at any given moment. 

When you're 5000 miles away from your relatives, it's hard to tell them not to worry, when they don't quite understand US Geography and Greek TV reports the worse of the worst. Our thea must have called six times based on pictures she saw of the North Carolina coast and of Virginia Beach. The DC area was nowhere near as bad as these places. 

Television and the Internet has changed how we deal with our relatives back in Greece. Back in the day, the easiest course of action was avoiding worrying your relatives was to not tell them things, or to flat out lie. Growing up there were broken bones, fender benders, and all sorts of bad news that our relatives back in Greece had no idea about. The theory was that at 5,000 miles away, since they couldn't do anything about it anyway, it was better not to tell them. 

Closer to home it was nice to see how the hurricane was bringing families closer together. And by closer together, we mean everyone flocking to stay at the place of the one family member who had power. We heard more than a few stories of friends of ours whose parents were barging over to their houses to put all their frozen meat in their freezers. It's bad enough when you have the contents of one Greek freezer in a house, but two or three freezers worth of food is plenty. 

The hurricane obviously affected Greek events around the DC area. Third Thursday was cancelled for the first time in its two year history. It was particularly sad for those who live and work in Virginia because it would have only been the third time that the event was held outside of DC or Maryland. Greek Night on Saturday night was a mixed bag, as some ventured out because they had been stir crazy sitting at home for a couple of days, while others didn't want to get on the roads and deal with traffic signals being out. On the Sunday after the hurricane, St. Sophia's still didn't have power, so an "unplugged" service was the order of the day. On that same weekend, Sts. Constantine & Helen had to cancel their festival. Sts. Constantine & Helen has had the worst luck with festivals the last few years. Two years ago they needed to reschedule the festival to the same weekend as St. Katherine's on account of September 11th. It was great to see them get great weather this past weekend, and good turnouts all three days. It was a good thing that St. Sophia's had already moved their festival off of this weekend to later in October, so there weren't two festivals in DC on the same weekend. 

Now, nearly two weeks later, things are back to normal, most of us have cleaned up and caught up, and people both here and back in Greece can get back to focusing on their normal everyday lives again. With plenty of Greek events coming up this fall, Greek life in DC should be back to normal as well.

Read past feature articles