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WAVE ENCOUNTERED 41.3N LAT. 72.8W LONG. 140440Z X


APPROX FORTY FEET HIGH, SPEED 200 KNOTS RPT 200 X


COURSE TWO-NINE-ZERO.


He looked at it, felt his stomach go cold, and pushed the button. The klaxon began to wail. Everybody out. He'd not believed for a minute any of this sky-is-falling bullcrap, and consequently he'd encouraged his wife to ignore the threat. She was at this moment sitting with their five-year-old grandson in a pleasant Tudor home on Hylan Boulevard off Hugenot Park on nearby Staten Island. Roughly ten feet above sea level.

The wave was four, maybe five, minutes away.

But thank God he'd been directed to assume the worst here and make preparations. "Janet," he said to the officer, "have we sent the general alert?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Let's go." He got out of his chair, headed for the door, and grabbed his jacket on the way past the clothes tree. "Everybody out," he said unnecessarily to the four others scrambling to shut down the center. "Go to mobile."

He fished his cell phone out of his pocket, punched his home key, and listened to it ring. His own voice clicked on: "You've reached Captain Phillips's residence. Speak if you wish." And the beep.

"Myra," he told it, "for God's sake get out. Wave coming."

Then he was half walking, half running, locking doors as regulations required, listening to the thwip-thwip-thwip of rotors. His people were all out now, scattering across the tarmac and climbing into the chopper. Except Janet, who was drifting behind, keeping pace with him. Damned women. "Go," he told her. She climbed aboard and he followed and the chopper lifted off.

Phillips looked east over the lights of Brooklyn toward the harbor entrance. Everything seemed normal. They activated Bluebell, the Coast Guard Command Center Aloft. One of the radio operators signaled for his attention. "Captain," he said, "we've got reports from a couple of merchantmen, too. They're saying more like sixty feet."

God help us. He directed the pilot to move south. At the same time, he tried to call home again. Still no luck.

It was on the radio now, all stations warning people to get to high ground.

Phillips was trying not to give in to panic. "Janet," he said, "get me Collins." The FEMA regional director.

Collins already knew, of course. "Doing everything we can," he said. The FEMA director had been another skeptic. "Maybe we'll get lucky," he added. That sounded ominous.

They talked for a minute, and then Phillips tried again to call Myra. This time she answered.

"Whoa, Phil," she said, "slow down."

He was gazing across the bay from about a thousand feet. Lights were moving down there. Two miles ahead, at the Narrows, he could see the Verrazano Bridge.

"Myra, there's a wave coming. Big one. Get out of there. Get on the interstate and head west."

"How big?"

"Big."

"How much time do I have?"

"None-"

The phone went dead. He tried to call her back, but got a recorded message from the telephone company telling him the line was under repair.

Janet stared at him and said nothing.

He was trying to get the operator to check the line when the lights on the bridge blinked off.



TO: BREAKWATER. | The Moonfall | COURSE TWO-NINE-ZERO.