Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Here's my limited experience with Hurricane Sandy:

I heard about the expected storm on Thursday, Oct. 25th. with precise details. On Friday afternoon at Ella's kindergarten pick-up, a classmate's mother was overly concerned about her Saturday evening flight to Disney for Halloween. She kept checking the flight status on her phone. I didn't think she had anything to worry about and, as it turns out, her family's flight left as scheduled. They had a great time in Orlando.

Tim's Fall Ball game took place on Sunday afternoon, surprisingly. The other kids I took to church so they could wear their Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat after mass.

I was wondering whether this would be the only trick-or-treating they would have.

I baked bar cookies and banana bread on Sunday afternoon (Oct. 28th) so we'd have some things to nibble on if the power went out. My Lufthansa flight out of Newark (EWR) to Europe Tuesday evening was cancelled Sunday afternoon at 2:45. I was tracking the flight and received email right away. I contacted our tour leader and the cancellation was news to him. Kenny learned on Xbox that school was cancelled Monday.

On Monday afternoon the weather turned bad in earnest. Our power went out at 16:40 Monday and I expected it to be back by Wednesday. I was informed that my flight to Europe would leave Philadelphia on Wednesday evening instead of Newark. Bucks County was hit pretty hard by the hurricane but the city of Philadelphia was in good shape. On Wednesday morning, I tried to find a place to take a shower because our electricity (and water) was still out. But the gyms I use, Peddie High School in Hightstown and the YMCA in Freehold, were both dark and closed.1 Driving was tricky with all traffic signals out. In most cases, the dominant road took precedence and drivers on the side streets had to be cautious. At lesser intersections, folks implemented all-way stops. But there would always be someone who disregarded what everyone else was doing and would zoom through without stopping.

I didn't want to drive around longer than necessary because I was afraid of running my car low on gas. I was unable to make a left on 33 West from Freehold until Twin Rivers. Seeing dark stores with empty parking lots along Route 33 was becoming strangely normal. I entered one store that was open, exact change only. Little was left on the shelves and I saw a man load 20 loaves of bread into his car.

In preparation for my flight to Europe and the beginning of my ten day pilgrimage, I took a decent sponge bath on Wednesday using water from our filled bathtub. The house was getting cold after so many days without heat. Jeff took me to St. Veronica in Howell with my luggage to meet up with other pilgrims. We had prearranged a car service to drive several of us to the airport. The traffic on Route 9 south of 195 was stop-n-go but we were early so the delay did not make us late. We couldn't make a left until the road was no longer divided in Lakewood, then we had to double back northbound. I was optimistic that the car service would show but the tour coordinator had not been able to get in touch with them about our flight changes from Tuesday to Wednesday and from Newark to Philadelphia. He was not as optimistic. In the end, Jeff took me to the Philadelphia airport with two other women and everyone who was waiting in that church parking lot got to the airport in time for the flight.

We had not planned on that, however, and called the neighbors to check up on the kids at home. I thought it would be dark before Jeff could get home again but he said it wasn't. Philadelphia was civilization! Yes, we saw long lines at gas stations along the NJ Turnpike and I suggested Jeff fill up again before heading home from PA. But just the sight of open stores and normalcy was jaw-dropping. How bad things were hadn't really sunk in until I had something to compare to. But I was already getting a sense of how stark things were and were going to become in the next few days. I suggested Jeff take the kids to the Catskills but he was determined to stay home. He was curious about when power would come back and concerned about possible looting. He brought home Dunkin' Donuts after dropping me at the airport, the neighbor who watched the kids later brought over a hot pizza and Jeff took them to the Americana Diner on Friday just before the power was restored.

It wasn't as hard to leave as you might think. I knew that Jeff had options and he'd make the right decisions. He wasn't as able to keep in touch with me initially so that meant that I didn't worry about how things were going. I was excited about my trip and pretty concerned at how getting there would go, not really knowing anyone and having a connecting flight in Germany.
1 In the end, Peddie pool remained closed until Monday, Nov. 5th. and the Freehold Y opened up Saturday, Nov. 3rd.


RAnn said...

We are used to hot and miserable after hurricanes, but I think that's better than cold and miserable.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, my area was just barely brushed by Sandy, and all we got was rain. The coast fared a little worse. Seeing the news reports about the tremendous flooding, power outages, and other problems that people farther north had to deal with made me realize just how fortunate I was. I hope things have returned to normal in your area.


Anonymous said...

Wow--thanks for sharing this personal story for us. You and Ruth have experiences I can't even begin to imagine.