Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

As some of you may know I live on the Jersey Shore. A week ago everything turned upside down. It seems so long ago that I was at the grocery store doing my weekly shopping, although I have to admit I did a little more shopping than usual in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane was the topic of everyone’s conversations. And we were all hoping it was going to be like Hurricane Irene from last year, which turned out to be less than expected.

The Saturday night before the hurricane hit one of my Facebook friends who happens to be an arson detective posted that we really needed to get out and be proactive this time. His motivation to his Facebook friends? His knowledge that the state took before pictures of the shore! I saw that and went into freak out mode. I pulled everything into my shed from outside, took pictures of everything, and put my signed books in a plastic bin in the living room – no way were they getting water damage.

We found out the hard way that Hurricane Sandy was exactly what they expected and then some. In just over 24 hours everyone along the shore had their lives turned upside down. Within two days my daughter found out that eight of her friends had lost their homes and were now living in shelters. One of her old friends from Girl Scouts had two feet of water in her house. To say she’s devastated for her friends and the loss of the Seaside Boardwalk is an understatement. I’ve been fighting back tears for the past week.

Last Wednesday night my husband and I spoke to a man in passing. My husband asked where he lived to find out how bad things were there. He replied, “In a shelter now. My home’s gone. My whole town’s gone.”  My heart tore into pieces. While this man fought to save his island home he nearly lost his life. It was his neighbor who came back for him just after the hurricane passed and made him leave. He was sure that if his neighbor hadn’t he would have died. He lived in Ortley Beach which a complete disaster zone now.  

Over the weekend I poked through my daughter’s Facebook friends looking for one girl in particular. She was a good friend of my daughter’s. She lived on the island, one of the ones deemed unsafe for the residents to even return to check on their homes or get what’s left. I heard over the weekend that the infrastructure will not be safe enough for residents to return to begin fixing their houses for 6-8 months. In that time anything that would have been salvageable will be destroyed by mold. Her posts on Facebook have been very depressing and my heart is torn into pieces for her.

As of Saturday morning 70% (17,000+) residents of my township still did not have power. My street was a mangled mess. There were at least three different locations with downed power lines. We live on a dead end street and everything hinges on the downed poles, lines, and trees at the bus stop. The corner went through three stages by Saturday: a mangled mess to a cut down tree and pole still lying in the street to a taped off area with traffic cones. 
The mangled mess.

A sort of cleaned up mess.

We did alright, though. My in-laws had a generator that powers half their house at a time. We switched it from one area to another throughout the day. Depending on which area it was in we had internet. That’s when I checked Facebook and emails. It made life interesting for the kids. Also at my in-laws’ house are my husband’s brother, his wife, and their two young boys. It was a full house and tensions were strained, but we got through it. The knowledge of how much worse it could be kept us from complaining. 

We were half way blocked in at my in-laws. My husband’s parents have a flag shaped lot and a tree fell across the driveway on top of the power lines, making it impossible to get cars out. Luckily my brother-in-law and his wife parked their van in the garage of the house they are building and offered us the other spot. Their Hyundai was low enough to drive under the fallen tree to get out. Still my husband’s parents’ cars and my brother-in-law’s work van were blocked in. They couldn’t get out to get to work. We had three tree guys stop by and all told us they needed verification from the electric company that the lines are dead before they could cut the tree down. The power company wouldn’t send someone out at all until the tree was cut down. To make matters interesting there is a nor’easter headed our way this week.  
On the left is the empty lot my hubby & I own, my in-laws driveway w/tree, and the shed behind our house.

The tree that fell over the driveway barely missed our shed.
We have a tree leaning over our shed at the moment. I’m sure the nor’easter could cause the tree to fall and possibly take out our shed. I’m hoping it won’t. This nor’easter is causing panic around town. 
Our shed. No we didn't loose siding, we're still in the process of siding it.
The local high school just opened as a shelter in anticipation of more people losing their homes. Needless to say school will not be back in session this week. They are hoping to have everything back up and running for the kids to get back into a routine next Monday. Still, from reading posts my daughter’s friends have made on Facebook, they aren’t feeling the need to get back. They are more upset that they are expected to move on after all of the devastation they’ve seen. I see some serious therapy in the future for some of these kids – which kills me.  

I wrote the majority of this post on Saturday and then went back through to make edits for a great reason. We have POWER! Sunday morning power crews rolled onto our street and began working on the disaster of trees, lines, and pole at the bus stop. We were ecstatic and started hanging around the street watching, in anticipation.
The crews arrive.
That afternoon my father-in-law decided he needed to take care of the tree across the driveway. After grumbling over what to do, my husband, his dad, and my husband’s two younger brothers decided they would cut a new driveway through the empty lot my husband and I own on the other side of the driveway. It helps to have several lots in a row in one family, because it opens the options in times like these. About an hour later a crew pulled into the driveway to cut the tree down.   
My husband (in the middle) and his two brothers cutting another fallen tree to make a new driveway.
My mother-in-law said the crew was from Ohio & had just arrived that day at the Jersey Shore.
By the time it got dark the power crew was still hard at work up the street and still had not made it to our house. We began to think we would stay in the dark the rest of the night despite the promise the power crew had delivered to my brother-in-law that morning that we would have power before bedtime. Just before eight the power was restored and we went into celebration. My mother-in-law created a circle with all three of her grandsons and they began a chant, jumping around, about how we had power. All the lights in the house turned on and the boys were super happy.

About an hour later we drug all our bags that had made their way down to my in-laws back to our house. I turned up the heat and began unpacking everything. It almost felt too real to have the power on and I kept waiting for the power to go out again. I spent all day Monday getting the house back in order; sweeping, vacuuming, shopping to fill the fridge once again, and tons of laundry.
I didn’t write a word or edit a page since this storm hit. Instead I’ve been nose deep in books. I needed the escape. Without it I’ve been a mess worried and hurting for those around me that have lost everything. I am hoping to get back to my regular routine soon. In the meantime I am hoping that everyone stays safe and warm.


  1. Thanks for this post. So glad to see you and your family made it through okay.

    1. Thanks! It's really been crazy around here, but we're pulling through. :-)