Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: Life After the Storm

Obviously, the photographs in the New York Times tell Sandy’s story better than anything I can do. But I thought I’d post a few words from my perspective. In the wake of Sandy’s destruction, I feel incredibly blessed. Everyone in my extended family is safe. Only one member, an elderly uncle living alone, had a truly terrifying experience. His house burnt to the ground after a tree fell on it, crushing it and igniting the gas heating system. Fortunately, a neighbor and his son were able to rush in and carry our uncle to safety. A miracle! There are stories like this (or much worse!) being repeated all over New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. My heart goes out to all who’ve suffered because of the storm. To continue, click "Read More" below...

My community was not one of the hardest hit. And yet, as my husband and I walked around town the day after the hurricane, we didn’t see a single street without trees and power lines down (see photo at the top of post). Fortunately, most of the falling trees and limbs missed houses. My husband snapped the photo above. We thought it looked like an alien. Or, perhaps, a topiary clipped to look like an alien.

The day after the storm, there were three businesses—a hardware store and two delicatessens—opened in town. They were powered by mobile generators in trucks. The lines at the delicatessens were down the block. We stood on line at one deli for over an hour to get hot coffee and egg sandwiches. We could have made coffee and something to eat at home, but it was good to get out and hear the latest news and personal stories. Oh, yes--and did I mention the deli was warm?

My husband and I are novices when it comes to blackouts. Prior to Sandy, the longest power outage (12 hours) we’d experienced as homeowners was during that Northeast Blackout in 2003. There were people on line at the deli who were much more experienced. We learned that putting pots of boiling water on our gas stove would heat the kitchen and the family room. It gave new meaning to “getting information on line.”

By the second night in the dark, I'd gained a whole new appreciation for people living without electricity. Our house was pitch black by 7 PM. Using a combination of candle light and a table battery lamp, I could only read for an hour before my eyes said, “enough!”  My husband and I played Scrabble for the first time since our children lived at home and actually wanted to play board games with us.

The third night without power was Halloween. We lit a carved jack-o-lantern on our porch and candles in the windows to welcome intrepid Trick-or-Treaters. In between visits from fairies and Elmos and skeletons, I dusted off a deck of cards to play Solitaire and my husband serenaded me on guitar.

Three days after the storm, a few more businesses in town were running on mobile generators. My husband and I went out to lunch. We'd been managing with our blackout meals, but welcomed a change of scene and, of course, a meal in a warm place. Here I am looking quite satisfied (and very layered!) after lunch. I've never enjoyed the sunshine so much.

Our power was restored last night. I hope it won't be long for other people. Meanwhile, I continue to be amazed by the resourcefulness of people. Main Street got its power back yesterday afternoon. This morning the Starbucks was still closed, but a bunch of people with laptops and tablets were mulling around outside the coffee shop, taking advantage of the Wi-Fi.