Tag Archives: Sandy

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Something to ponder…

Yeah, it’s been quite some time since I posted much of anything. Hurricanes have a way of completely derailing plans, and a large tree falling on the house can serve as a pretty effective wakeup call. On the bright side, I suspect in the end this whole experience and the new paths it has put me on are exactly what I needed exactly when I needed them, and I know that’s a bit cryptic, but that’s all I’m saying at the moment. And on that note, I thought this bit on reading as it pertains to sharing other people’s experiences is highly appropriate.

Dark clouds and silver linings…

Rather than images of destruction, I bring you Sunshine and Lollipops.

C.E. Grundler

As the numbers roll in, the toll that Sandy has taken continues to mount. The cost of this storm, in lives lost, of homes , businesses, and infrastructure destroyed, is staggering. But seeing the devastation first-hand, not only seeing it at every turn but being unable to escape it, is something the news footage and numbers can’t convey.

The region was hit hard. There are so many pictures I could take to show the extent of the damage, but aside from my own home, I can’t bring myself to snap a single shot. I don’t want to document this destruction. Even as I see the pictures online, I see once familiar places reduced to rubble. But through it all, there is a silver lining I’ve seen more times than I can count in recent days. It’s people pulling together to help one another rebuild, and the strength of communities to rally around those most affected. Quite simply, it is hope.

I suppose times like these force many of us to stop, whether we’d planned to or not, and re-evaluate our priorities. New friendships are forged as people who might otherwise never pause to notice one another join forces to set things back to right. It’s ironic that the book I’d been writing revolved around a hurricane that involved evacuations and a moderate storm surge, and that writing has been put on the back burner by the real thing. And it’s ironic that my boat, the perpetual ‘project boat’, is in better shape than most every other boat around me. But in the wake of this storm, even as I’ve been dealing with the damage in my own house, I find my days full from morning to night, working along the water, helping to get other boats repaired. And while my writing and work on my own boat may have to take a back seat for now, I’m certain that when all is said and done, everything will rise stronger from this experience.

It’s a matter of perspective…

Above: It looked much nicer in an upright position.

First, the ‘SuperStorm’, Sandy. Then there was an earthquake, right in my neck of the woods. I kid you not. And now, six inches of snow on top of the already weakened trees, downed power lines, and tarp covered homes like mine. At this rate, I’m almost expecting to see locusts in the upcoming weather forecasts for New Jersey and the surrounding states. Last night I spent wakeful hours listening to the driving snow and 60 mph gusts batter the house. This morning began with mopping up where the storm found its way in to my kitchen and spare bedroom, which had been my home office. And yet, relatively speaking, I’m feeling pretty lucky these days, which seems to surprise most everyone who sees our home.

Minutes before the tree came down the radio reported the storm about to worsen, so my daughter and I decided to take the dogs out for what we imagined would their last walk for the night. Normally we take them out back, but she felt one tree out back was swaying just a bit more than looked right, and suggested they get down to business faster on leash, out front. We were standing in the lawn as the wind made an eerie moan, and dogs in tow, we bolted back to the house just as there was a terrifying crash and leaves showered down around us. We rushed inside to discover the damage. Had we gone out back, rushing back to the house at the very same moment we had, we would have been directly beneath the tree as it hit.

So yes, I feel extremely lucky. And I feel lucky that we still have most of our roof over our heads, (even if it now resembles Swiss cheese,) which is so much more than so many others affected by the storm. The house can and will be rebuilt, while staggering numbers of homes throughout the region are beyond repair or gone entirely. Our home is still here, still livable, and my boat is one of the few in my region that survived, even as so many of the marinas around me were completely devastated. When I hear the news speak of the ‘victims of Sandy’ I realize that technically, I’m one of them. But I don’t feel that way. I feel lucky. Very lucky. And now that things are under coming under control here, I’m heading out, doing what I can to help others out there who weren’t as lucky.

When trees attack…

Trick or Treat! And for this year’s costume…I’m a Sandy Victim!

I’d love to report that my boat has survived Hurricane Sandy unscathed. But as of this posting, I still don’t know. This massive storm was one for the history books, and the toll it took on the east coast is still being tallied, and around here, we’re still digging our way out of the damage it left behind. The winds that hit my area go beyond anything the region has ever weathered, and coupled with a record storm surge, much of the surrounding infrastructure sustained massive damage. Many of the marinas in my home waters have been devastated, and very few boats, either in the water or on land, came through unharmed. I’m hoping that due to her position at the highest point in the yard, protected by an old but reasonably solid shed, Annabel Lee is one of the fortunate survivors. But at this time, that remains to be seen.

As I type this, there’s a tree in my kitchen. And my spare bedroom/office. And I don’t mean a bonsai. No, I’m talking about a 100+ foot oak, formerly tall and majestic, but now uprooted and lying diagonal, balanced precariously between my yard and rooftop. It came down just as Sandy made landfall to the south and winds shifted from merely unnerving to downright terrifying. It came down with an impact that shook the house, knocking books and cups from shelves and turning pictures on the walls sideways. Several larger limbs tore instant skylights through the ceiling, sending sheetrock and shingles, leaves and splinters flying across my kitchen floor.

Fortunately, no one, human, canine or feline, was hurt, though we were all severely rattled, and we hastily rounded everyone into the relative safety of the basement. I’m grateful that whoever originally built this house seemed to construct it of doubled beams and excessively thick lumber. We’d often joked about the house’s inexplicable, almost ‘bomb-shelter’ like qualities, but as we rode out the remainder of the night, we truly came to appreciate it.

After a long and sleepless night, dawn allowed us to inspect the full extent of the damage. The weight of the tree still balanced upon the peak of the roof, with shattered limbs ripping into the roof through various points. Half our chimney was gone, beams and vents crushed. Upsetting as it was, compared to the reports coming in over the news radio, filled with horrifying and heartbreaking stories of damage and death, we considered ourselves reasonably lucky. The house can be repaired, and the only casualties we’d encountered included a vintage kit-kat clock, an old piggy-bank that crashed down from a shelf, and ironically, a weather glass that had all night been vividly displaying the dropping air pressure.

Bands of rain continued to arrive, as they had all night, and in the daylight we went onto the roof to cut away the outer limbs so we could nail a tarp down over the roof and finally dry up inside. Cars and people slowed as they passed, and neighbors came to offer any assistance they could. Thursday morning we’re scheduled for a tree service with a crane to lift the massive oak from the roof – by the way it is balanced cutting it free would cause more damage, and once that is done and the roof patched, we’ll finally be able to turn our attention to checking the boat. I can only hope Sandy has left me no other unpleasant surprises.

Hurricane Sandy…

I did all my proper preparations, to the best of my ability. I’ve done all I could to make sure the boat would ride out the storm, and being that she’s in a (hopefully) sturdy shed at the highest point in the yard, I’m hoping she’ll be alright. I can only wonder how the river is handling the surge and flood waters flowing down.  And I did all I could to prep the house. But there is only so much that can be done. The news coming in over A.M. radio is troubling and the roar of the storm outside is truly terrifying. They just remarked that this is a night people will remember for years to come and I’m inclined to agree.

It’s 10:30 at night, and we still have power, for the moment at least, which seems ironic considering I have a tree through the middle of my house. Yes, one of those lovely massive oaks came down, there’s a trunk in my kitchen, and rain is pouring in. The ceiling fan dangles sideways from what ceiling remains, and the floor is covered with  a sodden mix of plaster, insulation, rafters, sheathing, shingles, broken cabinet contents, leaves and branches.  Paintings were knocked from the wall, (consider the force it took to accomplish that,) there are cracks in the hallway ceiling, down the walls, except for my office, where a good portion of the wall is simply gone, along with the roof over my desk, and, I fear, much of my outlines, notes, and non-digital documents. Thankfully my laptop wasn’t on the desk at the time, or it would currently be buried, and likely destroyed. I’m just grateful no one was hurt, and all people and animals are safely bunkered down in the basement, and come daylight we’ll see just how bad the damage is. The police advised us to leave, but there’s nowhere to go. Every road is blocked, powerlines are dropping, trees crashing down, and after seeing what one can do to a house, I’m not so confident that venturing out in a VW is prudent. The basement seems the safest place, and that’s where we’re staying until this passes. But the lights are flickering, so I suspect I should sign off. I hope all of you out there are well and morning comes to find all well. Or as well as can be hoped for.