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In the dark

November 3, 2012

jessonline

Today was a good day.

We are 5 days past hurricane Sandy, and we’re still in the dark. No lights. No heat. A bit nippy at night, especially tonight, going down into the 30’s. I’m sitting here by the fire, writing this on my ipad, wearing a down vest, down coat, ugg boots, and a scarf pulled over my head.

In the aftermath of the storm, we had no idea how bad it was. No one did, initially. We were glad to be safe, our house intact. We lost power as soon as the storm hit, so we were in the dark- no news. Cell phone service was limited- we couldn’t access the internet or even make calls, only texts, and with very slow delivery at that. Stranded at home, since all transportation to NYC was suspended, I felt news-deprived and isolated. My husband was able to get to work on tuesday- driving up and across the lawn to get around the fallen tree that blocked the driveway, taking detour after detour as he encountered tree littered roads, downed power lines, and debris. His reports were all the news I had for two days- and it was shocking. The shore- devastated. A massive water surge- flooding Staten Island, lower manhattan, subway tunnels and hoboken. A entire neighborhood in Queens, burned to the ground.

It was shocking to see our always strong, impervious manhattan vulnerable.

It was heartbreaking to start hearing some personal accounts: the woman who decided, too late, that she should evacuate with her children, the car stalling as it hit water, then getting out of the car and losing her grip on the children as the massive storm surge came. The woman on Montauk, who took her dog for a walk and never came home. They found her body the next day. My mailman, who reported seeing bodies floating the day after in Union Beach- just a few miles from here, a town that’s right on the water on the bay side. All so heartbreaking.

And then there are good stories. The off-duty fireman who evacuated late and heard the cries of a stranded family- who went back to help the entire family, the dog, and parakeet to safety. The people who donated their much needed batteries and gas to keep generators going so that the fish and animals at Jenkinsin’s aquarium could survive. A friend’s neighbor, who has been driving every night to Pennsylvania, to get gas for his entire neighborhood- coming back and distributing up to 25 gallons a day to neighbors for cars and generators. A neighbor offering a neighbor access to a generator. So many people helping each other out.

On day 3, we started seeing the images on our ipad and tablet. Boats piled up like tinker toys. Entire complexes of houses, thrown off their foundations and tilted or flattened- or moved altogether. Houses incongruously landed on roadways and bridges. And still, in the dark, we started seeing the full force of destruction Sandy had wreaked upon the NY/NJ area.

Something like 93% of NJ homes and businesses lost power with this storm. I started seeing the local impact when I tried to go out for gas. There wasn’t any. Stations that were listed as having some were sold out, almost instantly, because there were no deliveries coming in, and most stations couldn’t pump the gas they had, because they had no power. One station would fill only cans- no cars, and people were lined up for blocks to get a gallon of gas. There were no traffic lights. Crossing highway 35 to get to a gas station was a frightening experience- a 50 mph, 4 lane road. No police anywhere. The few convenience stores that opened were dark and took cash only. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.

Also on day 3, people started getting in to my offices. Transportation was limited. The subways were mostly closed, tunnels flooded. Two employees walked across the 59th street bridge to get to the city; another employee living in flooded battery park, walked down the 8 flights of stairs in the dark, before wading through water in the basement to get his bike and ride to work.
Hardly anyone came in. There were no trains or busses from NJ or Westchester.

On day 4, a friend texted that busses were running, so I ventured to work for the first time. I was struck by the luxury of getting on a heated bus, after being cold for 3 days. I was relieved to see Times Square and midtown looking normal. It was reassuring to see signs of normalcy- lights and tourists, and open stores. At home, it was all still dark. No stores open. No gas. No ice.

The Jersey shore was completely devastated. Countless beaches, homes and entire towns were destroyed by this massive storm. And so many lives lost.

So, sitting here in the dark, by the fire, with my down coat and scarf and dwindling battery on my iPad, I feel lucky. My family is safe and my home intact. Sitting in the dark just isn’t so bad, in the context of all that’s happened. So it’s a good day. A very good day, indeed.

22 Comments

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  1. November 5, 2012

    Reblogged this on Community & Family Preparedness and commented:
    Trying to drawn attention to the REAL people who are still surviving Hurricane Sandy, this is a great post that brings it home.

  2. epilepsymeandneurology #
    November 5, 2012

    the world is watching and hoping for you all to be safe. I hope you get your power back soon and that your inner light continues to guide you safely.

  3. November 5, 2012

    Praying for you all! You are such troopers, seriously. Your strength is amazing.

  4. November 5, 2012

    Watching Sandy from England we only see the devastation from a somewhat detached view; seeing all the images but not getting a real idea of what it is like to live through it and the difficulty it causes trying to continue living after it. Your post provides some real insight into the real damage caused by Sandy. I wish you all the best…

  5. November 5, 2012

    It’s shocking!

  6. Angela #
    November 4, 2012

    Tragic.

  7. November 4, 2012

    Here, a long way away you we have had our share of disasters… but this one, hitting a city as it has, shows that none of us are immune. Thankyou for this,

  8. November 4, 2012

    I hope things recover for you soon. Take care.

  9. November 4, 2012

    I hope you are not still in the dark. I am glad though you are okay and able to write your experience for us to read. Thank you for sharing.

  10. indacampo #
    November 4, 2012

    Your last three sentences say it all. There are blessings in disguise that help us shift our perspective and help us adapt to our conditions. Congratulations on being FP.

  11. November 4, 2012

    Reblogged this on jrthetalker.

  12. November 4, 2012

    Great story. Nice to read such a heartfelt perspective on everything that’s been happening over there. I wish you all the best from Romania.

  13. November 4, 2012

    Yes, this is what I remember from the Great Ice Storm we had in Kentucky several years ago. It was February, and cold. Many places had no power for a week or more. One of the local radio stations devoted all of its air time to help. People would call in and ask about family; others would call and say the nursing home needs blankets, the generator is failing, I have firewood, anyone who needs it can come get and get it, I have four wheel drive, I come get any nurse or doctor who needs a ride. And on and on, for days. It made you feel good, knowing how many people helped. And all those great utility workers from Georgia and elsewhere. I saw them sleeping in the booths, waiting for their food. They were so tired. Working so hard. I hope, along with firemen and police and hospital workers that they will not be forgotten.

    I hope you are warm soon.

  14. November 4, 2012

    I so feel for you. We’re in NY and we’ve been out of power as well. But yet, I feel lucky too – I hope your life returns to normal soon. Be safe.

  15. November 4, 2012

    It is amazing to see the effect of this storm. My heart goes out to all of you stuck without electricity and the basic necessities of life. I so wish I could be a part of the recovery and clean up effort. Praying for you and the recovery.

  16. November 4, 2012

    You brought the aftermath of Sandy to life with your words. All we hear here in Ohio is accounts from the sensationalist news media who are reporting mostly on the fighting and tension in NJ. They paint such an ugly picture that it makes it hard to care. We turn our tvs off. We don’t want to listen to it. Which is exactly why we need personal stories like yours!

    I lived on the Jersey coast for years. I Ioved it there. The devastation is heart-breaking. I can’t imagine what it’s like during the aftermath, wishing for heat and normalcy. It will come. Hopefully soon.

    Thanks for letting us see what it’s like there. We’re getting a skewed picture in other parts of the country.

  17. November 4, 2012

    Look after yourself Jess. Thank you for the blog, I hope writing is helping you through this terrible time.

  18. Anonymous #
    November 4, 2012

    very good work keep going

  19. November 4, 2012

    ~ nice piece. there’s still something good in something bad that happens if we only know how to see it. take care. all will be well. :-)

  20. November 4, 2012

    Wow, keep writing, this is such a great account of what is real, not the news media version. My prayers are with you all.

  21. whereherethere #
    November 4, 2012

    It is very different reading your personal story than seeing some photos on the news, sitting on the other side of the world.

  22. November 4, 2012

    Thanks for sharing your story. People are watching, listening, reading and sending so many prayers. Stay warm and fed, and safe. <3

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