Hurricane Sandy and Nor-Easter Athena have kept me from updating Coast to Coast Mom these past few weeks as I've been spending all of my available time catching up on work and gearing up for my busiest time of year (now through Valentine's Day). But I wanted to share our experience surviving Hurricane Sandy in North Jersey. . .
We're lucky that we don't live in a flood-zone or coastal area, so our town wasn't as impacted as the demolished homes, beaches and businesses we keep seeing on the news. Instead, our main fear during storms is the wind. We're surrounded by gigantic trees dating back hundreds of years that start to weaken and fall when winds hit over 30-40 mph, taking out power lines and landing on homes and cars. We had sustained winds in that range, with gusts 60mph+ during Hurricane Sandy. So trees fell. Three fell on our block alone, knocking out power to half of our street for what would be 12 days.
Over 150 of these huge trees fell within a couple of miles of our home - knocking out power to 90% of our town and the surrounding towns. We usually lose power, but this time by some miracle, we didn't. (Although we acted and planned that we would lose it at any minute, keeping our devices charged, using up food from the freezer, etc.)
90% of our area without power meant that grocery stores, restaurants, shops and businesses were powerless too. Because so many trees were down around town, buses and cars couldn't get through, and the two train lines that run through town were also shut down. So we were all kind of stuck for a few days. Because so many people we knew were without power - while we had it - we invited and hosted people to hang out in our heat, play at our house, eat hot meals, charge their devices, etc. We made those days like one big casual open house. The hardest part for most was the lack of gasoline (to drive to far off family or available hotels or to keep their generators going), and the lack of heat as the temps hit the 30s at night and their home thermostats were in the 40s after several days of no heat. It was heartbreaking, and seeing the images of those impacted worse than us and hearing updates from friends, family and contact in those areas helped to keep things in perspective.
We spent our time showing off some of the exciting items I have to review (Starbucks Verismo machine, Samsung SMART TV, Sony Xperia Tablet S, BlackBerry PlayBook, phones, cameras and video games galore). The kids all wanted to play video games and use our powered devices, and with so much time spent each day powered down in the dark, we were happy to toss the screen time limits out the window. We happened to be cleaning out our basement of things we've moved around the country with but just hadn't gotten rid of yet, so a huge chunk of what we did those days was sort through our boxes of stuff in storage, to donate to various people and charities impacted by Sandy.
Here's our local DPW a couple of days later clearing the trees out of the street so cars and buses can return:
And of course, we cheered when the cable trucks arrived to fix the cable lines! :-)
Never would I have imagined that in this day and modern age that it would take a week to 12 days to get power up and running. BUT, we have a newfound appreciation this Thanksgiving for things we've been taking for granted - like school, heat, phone and Internet access.
Many families here were living like pioneers: going around collecting fire wood from fallen trees to start fires to heat their homes at night; finding places to spend their days out of the cold house during the day with outlets to charge devices; locating gasoline; gerry-rigging ways to keep a few food items cold or hot to eat.
We're so thankful for all of the power, cable and tree removal crews that traveled to help us in North Jersey - and in the surrounding NYC area. Those were cold, wet, trying times and we greatly appreciate them being here to help clean up, power up and right our town.
The kids here missed 8 days of school - and I'm sure will make for a contentious board meeting to decide when those days will be made up - but I'm positive they've never been so happy to return to their everyday routines.
While we're fortunate to be able to return to our routines this week, there are still thousands displaced and unable to get back into the swing of normalcy. Please consider some ways you can help contribute to the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.