Monday, November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

Happy Halloween! What? It’s not Halloween where you are? Well... this is awkward.

You see, here in New Jersey, it’s Halloween. Because everyone was (and is) still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy (with most everyone out of power at that point), the Governor postponed Halloween celebrations.

So, tonight while you and your loved ones talk about the day’s work and shuffle kids through homework, we will be shuffling our kids through the neighborhood to trick-or-treat. No sense for sweet tooths to suffer (or is it sweet teeth?).

When Sandy sees all the merriment, maybe her heart will grow two sizes and she’ll return the Christmas trees. Wait... I think I’m getting confused. I’m also pretty sure we’re not getting any of our trees back.



Anyhow, let’s talk about the hurricane a little.

My town was affected most by power outages, downed trees and, therefore, road closures. So many trees fell on my street that the neighborhood actually looks like a whole new place. We lost 4 trees in my yard. Someone said they counted 60 trees down along our formerly tree-lined streets.

Power went out Monday afternoon as Hurricane Sandy started rolling in. We pulled out a big generator we bought after last year’s storm and hooked it up. That supplied us with power for almost 3 hours before it stopped working.

We called the company who makes it the next day who informed us we would have to take it to be repaired (not easy considering all the road closures) and gave us the number of a semi-nearby shop. That shop was flooded and had a tree fall through it’s building so the owner said he wouldn’t be open for a while, but even if he were he’d have to order parts from Ohio. Basically, we were kind of screwed as far as getting that generator working again.

My in-laws, who mercifully didn’t lose power at all, brought us their generator. It was smaller than ours so we had to pick and choose what to run. Usually that meant heat for one floor, the refrigerator, and a few lights.

Because we have a well, we were also without running water for the week. Oh, yes. Good times. We were flushing our toilets with buckets of water from the bathtub which we had filled before Sandy’s arrival.

On Thursday we managed to get the generator to run our well pump (by turning absolutely everything else off) long enough to take short showers.

We didn’t run the generator at night, so it got quite cold at night. After waking one morning to find my toddler with blue lips, blue feet, and coughing, I took him down to Maryland for a couple nights at the end of the week. My dad had both heat and running water. Talk about luxury!

Our power was finally restored yesterday morning. I have never been so excited to do laundry and wash dishes. Living without power and water is a nuisance.

That’s all, though. It’s just a nuisance. While I’ve griped about not being able to clean, many people have lost their homes to floods and fires. Houses are in the water and boats are on land. One house floated to the middle of a major road. A train ended up on the turnpike. A roller coaster sits in the ocean. Gas leakages have led to fires. The images are almost surreal.

There are people, particularly whose homes were on the shore, who haven’t even been able to get back yet to find out what’s left, if anything. I can’t imagine what that feels like.

Food and water shelters have been setup for people who can’t get these basic resources. Some people are in need of clothing and warm blankets.

Getting gas has proven problematic for anyone trying to fill up their car or a gas can to keep a generator running. Many gas stations are still without power and closed. The ones that are open have lines out to the street. Often they only accept cash, which means you also have to find a working ATM before you even get to the gas station.

As of this weekend, gas is being rationed in most of New Jersey. On odd dates, cars with license plates ending in odd numbers can get gas. On even dates, license plates ending in even numbers can.

Even as I type that, it sounds too ridiculous to be true. Yet, here we are.

Bad things are happening. There have been fist fights over gas. On my own street, someone tried to steal a generator and break into a house that they thought was unoccupied. They were wrong and apparently ran off after the owner turned on her flashlight and her dogs starting lunging at the windows.

How much desperation one must feel to try to steal a generator.

And still, there is so much generosity. As other people around me regained power, I’ve had multiple invitations to go warm up, charge my phone, do laundry, and shower.

In Hoboken, people who weren’t affected by flooding and got power back quickly set up charging stations in their front yards for neighbors to plug in their phone- extension cords run through the front yard and maybe even a few patio chairs to rest in.

In my small town, one business offered free chain saw sharpening this weekend. As I mentioned, a lot of trees are down all around here, so this makes clean up a little easier.

The local clothing screening company created “Jersey Strong” t-shirts with all proceeds going to relief efforts.

In another town someone loaded up firewood in front of their house and offered it free to anyone who needed it to stay warm.

In a store where people waited to buy generators, the last person who had a ticket to do so gave his ticket away to someone else who was housing families displaced by the flood. Because of that person gave up their generator, a house temporarily holding 14 people had power that night.

Utility workers from our state have worked long hours in the cold to restore power. Utility workers have even come in from other states to help.

There is still so much good in this world.

So that’s what’s been happening here. There is still a long road ahead for many. I ask that you pray, if so inclined, for all of the families affected.

If you are in New Jersey or want to know what is happening with relief efforts here, follow Jersey Shore Hurricane News on Facebook. This is an incredible resource that gives updates on the devastation, where people can find shelter and resources, time tables for power restoration, and how you can help.

Here are links to some of the images, in case you've missed them:

If you want to help, check the Jersey Shore Hurricane News Facebook page I mentioned earlier to see what people are requesting and where. If you are local and can provide shelter, power, or supplies to someone in need, please do so. The White House also has a page on their website with lots of ways to help: How to Help Survivors of Hurricane Sandy.

4 comments:

  1. Wow. Just, wow. I am on the other side of the continent in Alberta, Canada. We don't get hurricaines. Tornados occasionally. Usually nothing more serious than bad snow storms.

    Glad to hear you and your family are all right. My heart goes out to all those families who have lost their homes.

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  2. Glad you are back home and on the road to recovery. The devastation is shocking yet the show of human support is uplifting. Great post.

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  3. A week later and still it's impossible to absorb the full depths of this devastation. I have family members in NJ who are still waiting for the return of electricity as are dear friends in NYC. Looking at the post storm photos doesn't make any of this more real or even believable. I've heard far too many examples of the bad behaviors after the storm, so am especially heartened and appreciative to read your examples of generosity and goodness. Just as I'm so happy to hear that you are one step closer to recovering your life, Sherri.

    Oh, and Happy Halloween!

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  4. Thank yo ufor the inside view of what this is like. The photos are horrific. It's good to hear people are helping each other when they can.
    I have a well too, when the power goes off it's miserable.
    Diana

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