Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Superstorm Sandy

I was overjoyed to see utility trucks on my street on Tuesday night. After eight days without power, those trucks brought hope with them.

I was born in New Jersey and I have seen many storms blow through the state. In my lifetime, Superstorm Sandy tops them all in the devastation it left behind all along the Jersey shore.

My family and I are fine. Our house remained intact, only losing several shingles. While our yard is littered with massive branches, we are lucky that none put a hole in our roof. Some of our neighbors weren’t as fortunate.

In our neighborhood, the biggest danger in ANY storm comes from falling branches and trees. In the nor’easter of 1992, five pine trees were uprooted in our yard and one of those trees took the power lines down with it.

Afterwards, we had many huge trees removed that were close to the house. (Expensive!) Still, the trees remaining on the property continue to be a threat. During the Valentine's Day ice storm of 2007, one dropped a large branch on hubby’s car, which broke the window.

When the monster storm, Sandy, made a direct hit on New Jersey homes close to the beach or on barrier islands were destroyed. The destruction was so thorough it appears as if a tsunami caused it. My heart goes out to those who lost everything.:^(

We live on high ground—66 feet above sea level to be exact. However, we also live close to a large dam over a river which is a tidal estuary. Last year, during Hurricane Irene, the dam overflowed and the river rose so high it covered the road and destroyed another neighbor’s house.

Before Sandy arrived, we took precautions—stocking up on water and non-perishable food. We had plenty of flashlights, our cellphones were charged, and I had restocked the woodbox.

As Superstorm Sandy approached, we checked out conditions online and viewed frightening photos of the flood conditions preceding the storm. One by one, people began to report that they had lost power.

We ate supper as the gusts outside increased. Our power went out a little after eight and the winds whipped up into a fury. By then, darkness had fallen. We could no longer see what was happening but that only made the situation worse as we heard loud thumps reverberating all around the house—the sound of large limbs or trees crashing to the ground.

At one point, a great branch from a silver maple landed inches away from the front the bay window.

The experience was nerve wracking. Daughter #1 checked the attic to make sure it did not have a hole in it since several times we heard something fall on the roof.

The ferocious roar of the wind died down after a while and we went to sleep wondering what the dawn would bring.

In the morning we looked out the window and saw a gigantic tree embedded in our next door neighbor’s roof. Several other neighbors had gutters ripped off, or had smaller branches stuck in their roof.

Large trees had been uprooted and fallen over the power lines. Roads were blocked by the trees or the power lines or both.

We had no power, no phone, and no internet for eight days. My cell phone was useless, too. Previous to this storm, the longest we had gone without power while living in this house was twenty-six hours during the ice storm of 2007.

Still, since we had a gas stove with a pilot light we could cook. We have a fireplace. We had hot running water. However, we do not own a generator.

It didn’t take long for the milk in the refrigerator to sour. We had to toss everything except the beer in the ‘fridge.

For the first few days after the storm the temperature inside the house remained comfortable. Then the thermometer outside dipped into the thirties at night and the house became rather chilly. Sitting directly in front of the fire is great, but halfway across the room it is not as toasty.

Candlelight is noted for its ambiance, but it is tough to read in the dim glow of a candle—or even a massive collection of candles. However, I have a book light, which is great for reading in the dark, and I have a little emergency radio.

Hubby does not need electricity to play his accordion. When I got tired of reading, Daughter #1 and I played Bananagrams. (I love that game!)

The hardest part of the experience was not being in touch with all the relatives. Daughter #1 went back to work on Wednesday, where she had heat, light and cellphone service. She sent everyone a message to let them know we were fine.

I managed to get out a few tweets here and there, but we had the clean up to contend with and Friday morning we went looking for gas for my car and wound up sitting in a gas line for an hour.

The gas station had a separate line for those with gas containers. Many people have generators and while they do make life without power more bearable, getting gas for the generator creates another crisis.

Since our water company did not fail, we donated the water we had purchased before the storm to those who are without anything in the many shelters in the state.

We missed our internet and television news but sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine and a book is pleasant. If it had been cold enough to freeze the pipes, our experience with Superstorm Sandy would have been far, far worse.

While we have been inconvenienced, there are many, many families in New Jersey and New York who lost everything and would be grateful to return to their home even if it lacked power.

This one storm decimated our state. If you can help out, please donate to the charity of your choice to bring aid and comfort to those affected by this massive disaster.

8 comments:

Veronica Truesdale said...

Glad you and your family re okay, Penny. I know it's been difficult.

MarkD60 said...

Glad you and your family and home are OK

Chris Plumb said...

Glad you are okay and blogging again. People need to read these first hand accounts. For whatever reason, Sandy doesn't seem as big a deal as past hurricanes, and that's sad for us as Americans, and sad for the reconstructive efforts that are desperately needed.

Penelope Marzec said...

For all those who lost everything in NJ, Sandy was a big deal. It's going to take a lot of effort to put NJ back together.

Kim McMahill said...

Thank you for sharing your story and I'm glad you and your family are fine. It's good to have you back on-line.

Joan Alley said...

So glad you made it through the storm. I'm praying for those in New Jersey who did not make it through as well!

In '03 (I think) a hurricane knocked out our power for over a week. Since we had a well at our old house, we had no water either. It was tough in many ways, but also an adventure in others. It certainly brought us together as a family, and I'll never forget those nights spent together playing cards by the oil lamp.

At our old house, we could count on losing power with every storm. At our new house, it's much much rarer. In some ways I miss those candlelit nights very much!

Again, so glad you are back and okay.

Penelope Marzec said...

Joan,

We are have water, but there are people in this county who have wells. They don't have water.

An oil lamp would be a good thing to have. I'll have to look around and see if I can find one to prepare for the next disaster.

Daughter #1 and I tried Chinese checkers last night, but I still like Bananagrams better. :^)

Jacqueline D. Hopper said...

Glad to hear you were able to thrive in a tough situation, Penelope. And that there was only minor damage to your house.