Monday, November 05, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Last week we knew a hurricane was coming up the east coast. We have been warned in the past about such things but never really had a problem before. Hurricane Sandy was a whole different story. It began with just rain and some high, strong winds. As the night progressed, we quickly lost our power (about 4 p.m. Monday.) Tuesday we still had wind and rain but towards the end of the day it was more of a steady drizzle yet still windy. My development looked so odd with no lights at all. It was pitch black without the street lights. Tuesday evening found two neighbors with generators and you could hear them running. It was about the only noise. On Monday we heard many explosions of power grids and saw blue flashes of lightning. I knew then it would be a few days before we would have power again.

I was very fortunate to have a wonderful neighobor who happens to be a police officer. He managed to call in some favors from his friends and one waited with a neighbor so he could obtain a generator. Another got him the gas and yet another delivered the item to his home where a few more helped him get it all set up. Once it was running, they came over and offered us a line we could use to power either a refrigerator or freezer. I alternated it back and forth but if this ever happens again, I will just put the important items in the freezer of the refrigerator and throw out the rest. On the second night, we got the idea to find a clock radio and plug that in. We also had my cpap machine plugged in and I slept on the sofa in the living room to get some real sleep after a sleepless night on Monday. By Thursday we were listening to the car radio once in awhile and realized the utter devastation to our state. We made our way out to the local grocery store which was being powered by generators. There were guards everywhere and they had lines for buying coffee, lines to pick up ice (limit two bags per family), and very long lines at the registers. For the first few days the gas stations and grocery stores would only accept cash. If you didn't already have cash you had a real problem because the banks were all closed. NO ATMS. No power anywhere. No traffic lights, no house phones and  the cell phones were useless. We were able to get on Facebook a few times between 4 and 6 a.m. but never completed a phone call until later in the week...much later. Even then, it connected but the call dropped. Rob had a phone number to call and we had to go find someone with a working cell (Verizon seemed to be the only ones working) to call in and check each day to see if he needed to go into work or not.

Friday we knew that there would be a concert on NBC tv. Some of my favorites (Springsteen and Bon Jovi) were going to be on. We hated to miss that. The irony: they give a telethon to help but you can't see it. We sat outside in Rob's car with the heat running and listened to it. I just cried and cried hearing and learning more about the devastation that we had no way of seeing. When we had gone out I was overwhelmed by the uprooted huge trees, the lack of any traffic lights and the fact that no gas stations were open. Friday night we were so cold we could barely sleep, with several quilts on the bed. When we woke up Saturday I told Rob we needed to find somewhere warm to sleep that night. He called local hotels. No openings anywhere. Towards the afternoon my neighbor suggested we plug our line from his generator to the FIOS box and wa la we had phone service (not a cordless that was uncharged but an old fashioned phone.) I called my mother on her cell and she said that her power had come on 15 minutes ago. We high tailed it over there. We learned the tiny town near us had power and took a chance and called the pizza parlor. YES! They were open and we had pizza for dinner. That was so much easier than unplugging the fridge, moving out our stove to plug it in and heat up some frozen chicken strips from the garage! After we had the pizza my neighbor called my cell to let me know our power was back! YIPEE!!! We had brought over one load of laundry to my Mom's and we got that out of her dryer and headed back. There's no place like home...there's no place like home.....unless you have no power. Rob sprinted around the house putting things back in order.

I can never say enough how much we appreciate our next door neighbors Jonathan and Carmen. They were so very concerned about me having what I needed medically, offering to do so much and generously sharing their generator. My son brought over ten gallons of gas for us to contribute but we offered to pay for more and they wouldn't even accept it. I plan to get them a nice gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. Well, once I get  my disability check which is now a week late! We had no mail Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. So I guess sleet etc is okay but not darkness. I need that check. I had to throw out food from my refrigerator and freezer because it was over 24 hours before we had electricity from the generator.

On Friday I had a cardiology appointment and I drove to their office. It was vacant. I have to get in touch with them first thing this morning. I am overdue for very important blood work. In fact, if they are not open I will have to try my pcp and then if that fails, an ER visit. I hope not.

There are many stories such as our brush with fire that will come in the near future. For now, I am enjoying the hum of my furnace and preparing to make hot oatmeal. The joys of the simple things. There are many people still without power as I type this. Yesterday we dropped off supplies to a shelter for seniors. They were running out of stuff. My beloved shore is a mess. The boardwalks are gone. The rides are in the ocean. I haven't felt this kind of devastation since 9 11. My heart breaks for those who lost their homes. Some are just underwater like my friend Richard's. He has a full basement of water and three feet on his first floor. He is retired and his wife works one day a week. They don't know how they will be able to replace. They are staying in the apartment of my mother's house for now. They had flood insurance (over a thousand dolllars a year) but it didn't cover their furnishings. That would have been $800 more which they couldn't afford. They consider themselves lucky because they still have their house. Their neighbor's house was pretty much underwater I think.

Take a moment and appreciate what you have. Just a warm cup of coffee in your warm home is a lot to be grateful for. It will be months before many people here can go home and some never will again. Pray for them, or at least think of them. I never thought this could happen here. You never know.

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