Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting Back to Normal

One could ask if there is such a thing as normal.  After a catastrophic event things change.  You may be extremely affected by it or mildly affected by it, but don't kid yourself and think that you are not affected by it at all.  Just like that butterfly that beats it's wings in the jungle and starts the hurricane the ripples keep spreading outward.

Many of us here in our town were without power as a result of the high winds from Super Storm Sandy.   Most of our block's power was restored on Tuesday - the eight day mark.  There were two exceptions, us and our neighbor.  We were unfortunate enough to have had to wait until the 12th day.

School had been cancelled for 6 days and during that time I was able to keep some warmth in the house by boiling water on our gas stove top and powering a little heater with the generator that we had the refrigerator hooked up to.  I had taken three large smooth rocks from outside and was heating them atop the heater and I would alternately put them in the pouch of my sweatshirt to keep my hands warm.  You could only feel the heat from the heater if you were within two feet of it, but the rocks on top really got hot.  When we shut the generator down, I took the three of them to bed with me.  They got shoved to the floor when they lost their heat.

In order to run the line from the generator into to the house meant keeping a door or window opened a crack.  We decided that it would be easier to close the gap in a door rather than one of our casement windows.  Strange as it seems, we had four brand new pool noodles in the laundry room so I took two of them to help with this.  I used a serrated knife to make a slit down the length of one plus a little more of another noodle and then coaxed the slit part over the edge of the sliding glass door.  We pushed the door as closed as we could get it.  I then took the leftover noodle and sliced that up into quarters and stuck it into the gap where the doors overlapped.  We have a board that I decorated years ago that we keep in the channel to prevent break-ins and this is what served as a lock for that door.

HWNSNBP was determined that we would stick this out and though we were offered hospitality by several of our friends who regained their power before we did, we only took them up on warm showers.  After school resumed, and with the evening temperatures dropping into the 30's it became too difficult to try to heat the kitchen.  And, if you can believe it, it became painful, at least for me, to sleep.  It wasn't trying to keep warm, it was trying to move under the weight of all the covers.  On good days I have to be careful with my hip rolling over.  So, when the kitchen temperature became the temperature that they said was safe for the inside of your refrigerator I told HWNSNBP that we needed to leave.  We headed to the condo in Barnegat where power and cable service had been restored earlier in the week.  HWNSNBP could telecommute from there.  

I have posted pictures in the past of the public dock that is across the street from us there similar to this.

The figure on the right is HWNSNBP fishing.  There will be no fishing at the dock now.

There is my fisherman standing along side the bulkhead and you can see some remnants of the dock.  Most of it was heaved by the water and a lot of it wound up on and around the condo property.  

The picture above is the back of the condo property and midway up on the right side you can see a section of the dock that got washed over.  You can also see a lot of the debris that was accumulated there.  Under our unit the water had rushed with such force that the tall grass was flattened.  Standing upstairs in our unit, when I look out over the refuge there are large areas where the grass was flattened and there are large pieces of homes and belongings strewn about.  It is not really safe to go out and try to retrieve them because of what is under the grass, or rather what you don't know is under the grass.  Boards with nails or ditches could cause injury, so we were careful not to venture too far into that area.  

From upstairs we saw this blue heron standing in a patch of that flattened grass.  I can imagine that he's thinking that he doesn't know this place.

As he flew off you can see the scattered debris in the immediate distance.

We were down there the first Saturday after the storm with some of the other residents to clean up the property.  At the time we were still without power.  If you looked out the front towards the dock you would see the debris being piled up in the parking lot.  When we got their on Friday the pile was even bigger and the machines were constantly moving. 

The dumpsters were lined up and as they were filled the dozer would slide them across the parking lot.  Oh, it was noisy but necessary.  You see that tree near the water below?  The dockmasters shed used to be between that tree and the boat ramp.  They have no idea where it ended up.  It could have broken up and be behind us or it could have been sucked back into the bay by the wind.     

That blob above and to the left of the tree is a boat that must have broken free from some marina and came to rest on that island.

My friend J and I took a walk down the street towards the bay beach around the corner.  The condos that were on the water there were very seriously damaged.  This is a view of the boat slips in the back.  There used to be a boardwalkway there.  We don't know where all the boats are.  They could have been pulled out of the water by the owners before the storm, floated away or sank.  We just don't know.

These units on the street side had damage also.  And in this picture you can see where their built-in pool was heaved right out of the ground.  And the shed was ripped apart.

There was a private fishing pier there also.  Not any more.

The thing (I don't know what you call this wooden wall in the water) that the birds like to perch on didn't appear to have much damage.

But as we continued down the road we stopped at the bay beach because there was a wire down in a puddle and even though there was no power, we didn't feel it was safe to continue.  You can see the shed that rammed into the little gazebo which was pitched up itself.  Further down the road you could see things that had been dumped by the water in the refuge.  In fact, this Saturday we noticed a complete shed had been transported there.  

It was so sad to see all the possessions out on the curb and houses that had holes in them or were missing parts of their roofs.  We lost our pool fence and the cover was ripped.  There was some damage to the pool shed, but all in all, we got off pretty well.

We have learned that we are not prepared enough for a disaster like this at home.  Even though pre-storm warnings said power outages could be in the 7-10 day range we never thought that it would be that long and look how much longer we actually did have to wait.  We McGyvered some things but need to make a storm kit.  We did not have enough batteries, a battery operated radio, nor did we have enough gas cans to make HWNSNBP rest easy.  (Did I mention that 12 counties in the State of NJ were on an odd/even gas rationing program which was just lifted this morning.)  We do not have a safe way to hook up the generator to our furnace or well and this has to be taken care of soon.  We had bottled water for drinking and cooking and used buckets of water from our above-ground pool for "flushing".

I would have loved to have had 6 days off from work with optimum working conditions at home, but the sun didn't cooperate with enough light or heat to make it comfortable enough for me to work in the stamp cave.  Whatever I worked on had to be brought to the kitchen table.  I'll show you pictures of what I worked on soon.

Trust me when I tell you that what you see in my pictures is mild compared to what has happened elsewhere.  You have to be a resident of the areas that were hardest hit and to be quite honest, anything that I have seen, I have seen through facebook postings as my iphone was my only connection to the world without power.  I can tell you that the place where my son got married last month is still stands but the dune that was the backdrop for their ceremony is gone and the whole first floor including the reception room and all of the hotel rooms were underwater.  Our childhood haunts at the Jersey Shore have been devastated by water, wind, and fire.  It is truly heartbreaking to see.

We are lucky to have only been inconvenienced 12 days.  


  1. Thank you for sharing . . . it is one thing to see photos and quite another to live through a disaster. My prayers are with you and your community.

  2. Pool noodles and stones - trust you to improvise so amazingly, Lorraine! I'm sorry you had such a long haul of it; even here I had heard that it could be a week to ten days for some, but it's hard to wrap your mind about that. And the pictures are amazing - all that devastation! I'm glad you came off lightly enough in the condo.

    I'd forgotten that we were going to be without water from 7 last night till this morning, but that's such a minor inconvenience! I only remembered when I turned the tap on and nothing came out - so many things we take for granted. Even lightweight duvets so that we don't need all those heavy blankets that used to be the norm, now that you remind me of it.
    Congratulations to you both for soldiering through and sticking it out.

  3. Thanks for sharing your photo's & experiences Lorraine. You did well with the stones & pool noodles! McGyver would have been pleased!
    Glad you can now start to get your life back on track.
    Looking forward to seeing more of your fabulous creations:-)
    Sunshine New Zealand

  4. What an ordeal Lorraine! I am so sorry you had to go through this! You definitely made McGyver proud with your noodles and rocks!!!!! Guess you would have preferred those hot stones with a massage! :) So glad that you have power again and that you are able to create with warm fingers. It is events like these that make us realize how grateful we need to be everyday for all of those little things we take for granted. Thank you for sharing all of the pictures and thoughts and providing such a stunning reminder of all we have to be grateful for! :)


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