Mary Ann Sorrentino's 2 Cents Worth

Opinions, Observations and Musings

Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
RI or FL depending on season, USA
June 19
Mary Ann is a columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel, the Providence Phoenix and other newspapers and has appeared on She was an Associated Press Award-winning radio talk host for 13 years and the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of RI 1977-1987. Her most recent book, ABORTION - The A Word (Gadd Books) is available on line and in major bookstores.


Editor’s Pick
APRIL 1, 2010 10:55AM

Passover, Easter and Celebrations Under Water

Rate: 7 Flag


Many of you never heard of Cranston, RI until the major networks started highlighting it this week as flood waters drowned the Providence suburb and, eventually, became the statewide nightmare Rhode Island had feared for centuries.


You've seen the images of homes submerged, and homeowners desperately clutching whatever belongings they chose to salvage as they are evacuated in boats. You've heard interview after interview -- the weeping, the desperation and, in a few cases, the resignation tainted with attempts at humor.


Nothing about this flood is funny. Rhode Island was already competing for first place in the US contest for state most severely decimated by the recession. With double digit unemployment, thousands of empty new homes unsold or unfinished, foreclosure signs lining every street and a state deficit unlikely to be righted in two future generations, we were already a mess.


Now raw sewage floods our streams and rivers since treatment plants were felled by the floodwaters, and TV images of things like gas stations and auto body shops completely covered by river waters raise questions about the quality of our life-giving water supply for years to come.


At the same time, the large ethnic communities that make up the one million residents of this, the smallest state in the union, refuse to let even this historic flood dampen their holidays. Last Monday night, as the Pawtuxet River rose to a record level, Passover Seders went forward with their usual determination. This year, however, the question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" may have generated several new answers.


Now, on the eve of Good Friday, the Eastern European community, much of which is based in flood-ravaged West Warwick, is busy dyeing and painting its traditional elaborate and beautifully intricate Easter eggs.


In Providence's Fox Point section, and beyond it to East Providence, the children of original Portuguese immigrants and whalers still live and still prepare Easter sweet breads-- complete with hard-boiled eggs peeking out from the latticed, glazed loaf tops.


Italian Americans across the state, including those in my own town-- the now-famous Cranston of CNN fame-- are baking traditional ricotta pies with rice or wheat (called pastiere) as I write this. Like mail carriers, unstoppable by "neither rain, nor snow nor gloom of night..." Italian homemakers are undeterred by the flood of the century. The feast must go forward and, damnit, it will.


This hopeful determination to survive and go forward, even to celebrate in the midst of disaster, is the real message of the Passover-Easter season. The heavens send humankind a devastating plague of waters and the people respond with a commitment to gather together in prayer, hope and recognition of the rebirth of spring, despite extraordinary challenges.


If there aren't any "atheists in foxholes" as the old saying goes, there probably aren't many atheists is Rhode Island this holiday season either. All week long, as the waters raged, the words, "Thank God!" seem to be have been uttered more than any others.


 click here for flood video - 


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I still can't get over the amount of water in the video. WOW!
I'm an atheist in RI who was not affected by the flooding at all.

How nice of you to take a tragedy and spin it into a Christian fable.

A poorly written one I might add.
If only people would choose silence over insult. Congratulations on a well-deserved editor's pick for an excellent post. Many of us don't realize how terribly Rhode Island is suffering.
Um, not only do I realize it, I live in the same state and wrote a very similar note before this one was posted. I simply didn't choose to infer that people who are suffering as a result of this are incurring the wrath of God.
It is good, in this time of resurrection and thoughts thereof, to be reminded of the indomintable human spirit.
Good luck! We take so much for granted.
Well, it is called the Ocean State.
Oh my God. I had seen pieces of this story but not this - thank you for posting...xxa
I was listening to the news this morning and wondered how you were doing Mary Ann...I hope you are one of the lucky ones without much or any damage.

On the other hand, I certainly didn't read anything about the wrath of God in your piece...only that it's a time for celebrating and not even a flood was going to get the good folks of RI down!!!
Thanks for the comments, concerns and rates...and, uh, bluesurly, you're right...there was no wrath of God mentioned, inferred or implied in this essay (because it doesn't meet the definition of a "fable.") Larry, your subtle humor is always appreciated.
Good for everyone soldiering on! This was a nice read.
This all feels a lot like the Blizzard of '78. Today was a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in the sky. I went out to clean up the yard but didn't get much done because neighbors walking by would stop to talk and ask if all was well.

I love this place and its people, crap economy, flooded cellars and all. You can live somewhere else but you're always a Vo Dilunuh.