Here’s what happened to us during Hurricane Sandy…
I’m usually not prepared for a storm or any kind of bad weather. I’m the person who never has food in the house when we get stuck inside for a week after a snow storm and finds out that the flashlights are dead after the lights go out. But the news in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy scared the hell out of me. I took them seriously and this time I got prepared.
J and I decided it would be smartest if we split up and each stayed in one house. That way, if something happened to one of the houses, we would be there to deal with it. It seemed like a really good idea at the time…but if I had to do it all over, I would have insisted we stay together. Because once the storm started, I was a nervous wreck.
I went to CT with the dogs and spent the day Sunday getting ready. I had gone grocery shopping and stocked up on things like tuna and peanut butter and jelly. I went through the fridge and tried to use up any leftovers or other perishable food that wouldn’t survive a black out. I froze Ziploc bags full of water. I stacked up firewood right outside the back door. I filled the bathtubs with water. I gathered up all my candles and matches and flashlights and placed some in each room. I charged my phone and Nook and computer. Then, when I felt as prepared as I could be, I sat down and obsessively watched the 24-hour news coverage of the storm. J was in NY doing basically the same thing.
We were certain that we’d lose power in CT, so the plan was that I’d ride out the storm there and once everything was over, I’d close up the house and head down to NY. We never lose power in NY so we thought that would be a fine plan. We were wrong.
On Monday afternoon, the rain started…although it never really got that bad in CT. It rained on and off all day, but the major problem was the wind. The wind was insane. At one point, as I went to take the dogs out, a huge branch fell off one of our trees. The dogs were freaked out and didn’t even want to stay outside. I guess the weird storm vibe in the air was too much for them. They were much happier to curl up on the couch and sleep through everything.
Around 7PM, the lights started to flicker. They went off a few times, but came back on right away. Then, there was a huge crash outside and the lights went off and stayed off. I put my plan into action…moving the Ziploc bags I’d frozen earlier into the fridge to keep the food cool and lighting all my candles. I got into bed with the dogs and tried to read a book, but without the distraction from the TV my mind started to race and I became convinced one of the trees in the yard was going to fall on the house. Every time the wind really kicked up I would hold my breath and every time I heard a crash outside I started to panic.
Luckily, things started to settle down around 2AM and I was able to finally fall asleep. The next morning, when I looked out the window, I realized that one of the crashes I heard was a tree falling on my neighbor’s house. I grabbed the dogs and we went out to survey the damage. We had a lot of downed branches in our yard, but there was no major damage. The rest of the neighborhood was a mess.
I decided I was going to take a drive around the block to see what kind of damage there was. I didn’t get very far. As I pulled out of the driveway, I found this…
When I turned around and went the other way I found this…
I turned out that we weren’t actually going anywhere. So I headed back to the house and got comfortable. I started calling the city and the utility company to report our problems and then I waited. And waited. And waited.
No one came.
We were fine. I was able to watch a couple of movies on my computer. I read two books. I built a fire. I went to sleep early. But by Wednesday, I knew I had to leave. The well pump doesn’t work if there is no power and we were running out of water. The ice that was keeping my food cold was melting. I was running out of firewood. And also…I was feeling very claustrophobic being stuck inside. When I called the city that morning, I was told that it could be up to seven days before they came to remove the trees blocking the road.
Luckily, my neighbor decided he wasn’t waiting. He pulled out a chain saw and an ax and took matters into his own hands…
Everyone came out to help and they finally unblocked the road…
I headed down to NY…where we also had no power. But the NY house runs on gas, so the stove worked and there was hot water and we were able to flush the toilets…all things that are impossible in CT. There were also several restaurants open and my cousin had power so we went there to charge all of our electronics.
Power in NY came back on Friday and in CT it was back late Monday night. Overall, we were extremely lucky. Once we were able to watch the news again, the images of the complete devastation in some areas were just heartbreaking. Our cousin and aunt lived in Breezy Point, NY and they weren’t lucky at all. Here is their house…
The first time I saw that picture I cried and I still tear up every time I look at it. But the important this is that no one was in the house. No one got hurt. They lost some things, but they are all ok and that is all that matters. They can always rebuild the house.
I’ve heard a lot of stories from this storm and some of them didn’t surprise me. Like the gas station up the street from my parents that was trying to charge $9.99 a gallon for gas. Or the people who are looting the homes in abandoned neighborhoods. These things didn’t surprise me because I have long believed that most people suck and will take any opportunity for personal gain no matter who gets hurt.
But then there were other stories. Stories about neighbors helping each other. Stories about strangers helping each other. I saw one picture of a house in Hoboken, NJ that had power and the owners ran extension cords to the street to allow people to charge their phones for free. The mayor of Newark had some of his displaced neighbors living in his house. People in areas like mine that weren’t that hard hit gathering up supplies and heading out to help anyone that needed it. Even in my own neighborhood in CT, where the neighbors hardly know each other, everyone came out and worked together to make sure that everyone else was ok.
I have to tell you…it really renewed my faith in humanity and reminded me that while some people do suck…other people are really kind of amazing.
My heart goes out to all those who have lost everything. I can only hope that we can all move forward now and people can start to rebuild their houses and their lives.