Sunday, November 18, 2012

THE STORM! and it's aftermath! oct 29th-nov. 6th 2012

oh my oh my where to start! somehow we survived the great huricane sandy.
at 4pm  oct 29th the OAK tree in front of my house fell on my house thereby blocking the use of the front door! i had been upstairs at the time ironicly enough in the upstairs bathroom under where the tree fell.

it only sounded like a very large branch falling. my dad calls upstairs and says i " i think a branch fell out front" so i ran downstairs and said " that's not a branch it's a TREE" now my heart is racing as i scurried upstairs again to check for internal damage. which thankfully i didn't find.

next i went outside, after calling the police to put me in touch with the public works crew since it was a township owned tree, to check for any external damage. which aside from the front canopy and gutter seemed appeared ok.
now mind you this tree fell only a foot or 2 from the lamp post that i had just gone out at 2:30pm to re-right the lamp itself since the wind had pulled the lamp out of the mount on the post. boy was i lucky to have not been out there when the tree came down!

at about 8:45 pm the power went off and the wind REALLY picked up to about 80MPH gusts. and for the next 3 hours till 11:30 pm i tensed up every time i heard the wind. i was never so scared as during these 3 hours with the 80MPH winds whistling or rather screaming. esspecially since i allready had a tree on the house and now i was in the dark with only our kerosene lamps and my dad who has slowed down a whole lot at 87. we were lucky in that we have a gas oven and stove so that i pushed myself into making us some comfort food that of mac and cheese. which i could hardly eat since i was sooooo worried..

lucky i had just bought a new hi density foam mattress for the sofa bed which dad has decided to use over the last year not allowing me to get or set up his bed in the family room (tv and music room in our cape cod style home) and since it is next to the downstairs bath room it has been easier for him. sooo i ended up sleeping with him so that i could via a flash light guide him to the bathroom during the night. i had rigged up a small car work light plugged into a small rechargeable air compressor with a cigarette lighter power connection which i wanted to conserve the charge as long as possible hence i needed to guide him to turn it off and on. needless to say i didn't sleep well and it was a verrry long night. after midnight the winds dropped of a bit to about 60mph but i was still scarred till daybrake.

the next day on tue i called my aunt 17 miles west of me ( she is 2 years older that her brother - my dad but acts more like a young 60 yr old) to see if she had electricity or not. when her home phone wouldn't connect i contacted her on her cell phone. by this time i knew she didn't have power. we discussed her coming to stay with us since she didn't have a way to ignite her oven and is in a long ranch house. she hesitated and when i got off the phone i told dad to stay put and not wander around  and i got on rt 22 west to go check on her. with out electricity i couldn't just use the traffic light to cross the highway so after using one of only 4 overpasses with in that 17 mile stretch to enter the highway i realized the extent of the storms damage. for the next 17 miles there were no working traffic lights and really no way to turn around and go home due to the fact the next overpass 3 miles away was a gridlock of cars. when i got to the 3rd overpass the traffic came to a stop and go situation and after awhile when i changed to the fast lane i realized i had inadvertently been in a 2 mile long gas line! when i arrived at my aunts ( she doesn't have children)  she had started to pack but had planned upon coming on wed. and i said "get your stuff and come now before it gets dark". again to re-enter the highway east bound ment using the 4th overpass at the bridgewater mall. first we switched to rt 28 only to find it difficult due to it's single lane's blocked by the gas lines. so we cut back to rt 22 and sailed home arriving just before dark. everywhere one went or looked there were downed trees and power lines.
for the next week that is the tue of election day our days were spent forging for ice and food.
on thur my neighbor offered if i went along to go on an ice run over toward garwood nj about 7 miles east of us where they seemed to escape damage along the railroad tracks. although we couldn't find ice at pathmark i came up with a brainstorm to ask at the mcdonalds if we could get some ice at their soda refill machine. they kindly agreed and we headed home.
what i forgot to mention is that upon entering pathmark we stood there sort of stunned as if we were from a impoverished 3rd world country where we never get to see an abundance of food. and remember it had only been 3 days since the storm!
also upon entering mc donalds we just looked at each other with the same look as the food store as we inhaled the smell of the fast food fries which never smelled so good as at that moment! LOL

the next several days went pretty much the same accept i kept longing the hear the town tree service's chain saws but due to the devastation priority's had to be set to open up the roads to get the rescue vech. access open and the ele trucks in to get power up at the refinery pumping stations so that the hospitals could refual their generators for the critical care patients.  so we awaited the sound of chain saws each morning till about noon only to realize we would have to wait another long night. unfortunately sunlight was somewhat limited in the front of the house due to the tree's branches and foliage blocking the view.
by friday the tree crew arrived and i did a happy dance in front of the parked truck. the crew said that some people were grumpy since it had taken a couple of days for them to arrive. but i practically hugged them.

they trimmed branches while they awaited their crane to arrive and removed the tree from the house. we were blessed in that i only saw shingle damage from the outside. ( along with the canapy and gutter damage)

during this time  our local police dept. was running on generator for over a week as did my aunts town police dept as well.

for the most part everything came to a stand still for that week without power. while doing my wash over in garwood at the Laundromat called "Jumbo wash" i bumped into a medical person and family doing wash  as well who said it was almost imposable to check in on patients since even the cell phone service was spotty or non existent.
incidentally the owner of the laundromat was doing her part to help out as well by staying open 24 hrs to be of service to the community especially since area nursing homes didn't have a way to wash their sheets ether. 

the owner of the Italian resturant rudy's next to the laundromat was also very gracious in allowing the charging of phones as well as offering to fill our bags of ice. 

these and many other businesses (but not all businesses!) went the extra mile for the community's effected.

we had gone overnight from being a hi tech society down to a no electric area overnight! by the time we got to election day we were back in the 1776 era  using paper ballots and candles.
but by this time ( election day) my aunts power came back and i informed my dad that since the outside temp had gone down to 29 degrees the night before we would be moving to my aunt betty's house. dad balked but 2 hours later after gathering clothes he came along. by 9pm one of my neighbors texted me that the power was on. so after dinner dad and i headed home arriving at 1 am.

in the days that followed it has taken almost another week to get over the shock and it is still difficult doing business. between the shock and the devastation it will be awhile to get back on track.
i can't believe it is only a few days before thanksgiving and the end of november as before the storm it was only october 29th.
as thanks giving day approaches we have much to be thankful for. we will be hearing the stories of the many heros during and after the storm. acts of kindness both big and small. some people along the shore line only escaped with the clothes on their back and others were entirely unscathed. the majority though were like us somewhat in between. again we all have something to be grateful for even if it is only that we survived the storm of once in 500 years. we in NJ and the surrounding areas are resilient. we will lick our wounds and rebuild!