The second in a series looking at U.S. life and culture through its idioms.  View previous entries.

Dodged the bullet (or dodged a bullet) - Got lucky, avoided a bad outcome

I remember being horrified by the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, empathizing with the Louisiana inhabitants in Katrina?s aftermath, and being shocked by the images out of Haiti after the devastating earthquake back in 2010. All that destruction really hit me, but it was always far away ? happening to someone else.

That changed over the past few days, when Hurricane Sandy approached the very place where I live now in central Pennsylvania.

The New York City skyline in darkness as Hurricane Sandy hit Monday night

At first I just thought it would be a bad storm, but then I started to hear that the people around me were taking serious precautions: stocking up on non-perishables and water, finding the safest place of their house, preparing to stay off the streets. When I caught up with the news, it was scary to hear what was heading our way; there were road restrictions, transportation shut-downs, evacuations. Even classes were cancelled at Susquehanna.

I spent Monday just curled up on my couch in front of the TV, away from windows, trying to comfort myself with my favorite tea and a slice of homemade banana bread. As the banging against my windows got steadily worse, I went to bed (putting my mattress on the floor, as far away from the window as I could), hoping to make it safe to the next morning.

I woke up Tuesday morning, completely safe and sound. Here in Selinsgrove and other areas of Pennsylvania, we are very fortunate to be able to say that we dodged the bullet. This is how a friend described to me how lucky he was that he?d been able to avoid the damage.

Unfortunately, many people were not as lucky.  When I watched the news, I saw places I had just visited a couple of weeks ago underwater and crumbling. I listened to my students struggle because their families had been evacuated or because they hadn?t even been able to contact them after the storm.

I really hope my students, their families and all the people who were affected can soon recover from this tragic event. By coming together and giving our best in our communities, we can help overcome a situation as tough as this one.