Last week Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and the East Coast. Our family was fortunate that we only lost power for three days and internet/phone for one week. Many people lost their homes and locally many families are still without power. Thanks to the laptop battery I did some writing every couple days to chronicle everything and got all my pictures uploaded when the internet returned on Monday afternoon. Clark ended up with 6 days off of school (10 in a row, including weekends), and Tabby with the one week. We are getting back into a normal routine, but it has definitely been a strange time. Here’s how our week went down:
Monday: school was already cancelled for Monday and Tuesday. We’d spent much of Saturday and Sunday in a waiting..waiting…preparation mode-took apart the trampoline, bought and stored water, ran the dishwasher,stowed all outdoor furniture and loose items in the garage, and basically battened down the hatches. On Monday the weather was gently rainy with a few mild winds. By early afternoon we decided to go aheadand let the chickens out as the winds were now predicted not to become strong until after dark.
They were delighted to be let out and I also took Pippin for a walk in our field. I felt pretty safe there as we were not under trees. What was crazy though was hearing the wind in the woods across the river.
Darkness fell and the winds increased. We securely locked up all the chickens, made sure our dishes were washed and paths in the basement were cleared to the sump pumps. Ate dinner, cleaned up, and tucked the
kids into bed. As we were tucking them out went the lights! We had all our candles and flashlighs at the ready and in hand. Paul and I sat downstairs in the dark reading updates on Facebook on our phones and listening to the strongest winds I’ve ever heard. Our house felt shaky and there was a bumping sound of what turned out to be some of our siding coming off. Eventually we just went to bed and waited for morning to see what had happened.
Tuesday: We got up and did a stroll of our property. While we were fortunate to not have had any trees come crashing through our roof or onto our cars, a giant tree did fall and smash the treehouse, taking along at least one other tree with it.
Our next door neighbors lost several trees, including the beautiful willow tree that we all loved seeing.
A limited drive around town saw many other trees down and this fascinating sight-the tar paper roof of the feed store wrapped around the building.
We’ve become accustomed to seeing crazy and devastating flooding in our area, but this storm didn’t bring much rain (2 inches by our rain gauge.) Roads all over were closed due to downed power lines and trees. We ended up at our friends’ house and the kids were happy to play with their friends. They own a bagel shop which also had no power, but did have a gas stove. we headed there at lunchtime to cook up and use up some food, and especially to make coffee and tea!! Then everyone back to our house where more friends joined us. We grilled hot dogs and ate in front of the fireplace, then I donned my old storytelling hat (figuratively speaking) and told the kids the stories I used to tell to school groups and taught them some camp songs.
Wednesday-still no school and still no power and it’s Halloween. My mother has city water and a gas stove so we ventured out to her house. we sawmany trees down and roads closed and also lines of people with red gas cans trying to get gas for their generators. Also all this time our cell phones only had intermittent service, so we weren’t really keeping up to date or in touch. Occasionally we could get a text through. We had a nice afternoon at mom’s and I was happy to wash my hair! Our downtown area had electricity restored on Tuesday night (a house frustratingly yards away has power and we don’t) we headed to the local pizza place for dinner out. (and hot water hand washing! and lots of water drinking!) When we got home I stood behind all the closed doors upstairs and had the kids knock and I’d answer and pretend to be someone and they would shout trick or treat and I had candy for them. It sounds lame, but they loved it, and it helped make their disappointment over the cancellation of the school parades and parties bearable. We’ll always remember the Halloween we trick or treated at our bedrooms! and then to make it more fun we played games an hour past bedtime in front of the fireplace.
Thursday: still no power, rare cell service. My friend came by with a welcome thermos of tea and then another friend and her kids stopped by. I’m loving this extended visiting party atmosphere! Our neighbor came over to help us start chainsawing up the tree. Mom is going to spend the night with us-we may not have power but we do have a cozy fireplace and can provide company. School has been closed for the entire week (talk about a bust of a week off). Headed to a friend who has power to have dinner and showers.
I’ve gotten pretty annoyed with the kids saying they are bored as literally the only things they CAN’T do since we have no power is watch tv and play video games. How can you be bored when you have all your toys to play with? books? friends able to come by and just spend the morning with you? And the kids don’t even care about things being dirty or unwashed or filling toilet tanks with water to make them flush, so really, how much of a hardship is it for them?
Thursday evening we headed to our friends’ house for dinner and while we were there got word that our power had come back! Hurrah!!!
All was not quite back to normal, though. Today is Monday and we still don’t have phone/cable/internet. But with power we can watch dvds, cook, etc. (Ironically most people seemed to be down about not having heat, but once we got power back we still haven’t turned our heat on. We’ve been making regular fires,which we would do anyway, and I guess we keep a cold house most of the time anyway!)
Gas rationing and long lines still mean we are not doing any unnecessary traveling. Tabby is back to school today, but Clark is not due to go back until tomorrow. We ventured out to a grocery story yesterday which looked very end-times, what with the mostly empty canned good shelves, limited produce, etc. I’m still counting us as quite lucky though. I’ve got a well stocked pantry and that goes a long way. Friday with power I did some cleaning and then we went to a friend’s house with some other friends for dinner and all the kids to play. I’m telling you-this week has been the most wonderfully sociable week. I could do without the power outtages and damage, but it has been really nice how we’ve all just stopped in at each other’s homes and spent happy
Saturday Paul spent the whole morning with a friend cutting up someone’s massive fallen tree.
On Sunday Paul and our neighbors spent a lot of time working on the tipped over tree and dangling branches.
There was a lot of standing around talking, assessing, etc. Then a chain attached to a tractor and more chainsawing. We’re pretty set for firewood for next winter.
When we got word that there was still no school we had a homemade pizza and movie night. The library was open so we were able to refresh our book supply and get some dvds as well. My mother is staying with us until her power is restored, which may be a while. We just learned that a half mile of high tension wire needs to be repaired before they can get to the wires by her.
I’ve been trying to sew quite a bit, too. Oh, and we’re up to 7 eggs a day! 2 or 3 of them are very small-from the bantam hens.
So there you have it. Trying to get back to normal now, facing a Nor’Easter tonight (I told the kids first snow expected and they are wildly excited.) My mom is still staying with us.It was definitely a strange experience being so very out of touch for so long. For one thing, the rest of the country knew more about what was going on than we did. Without internet we didn’t see pictures of the seashore destruction. We both have smartphones, but the cell service was barely functioning and we weren’t going to drive around looking for newspapers. Seems like most stores are open again around us and although the gas rules are still in effect the lines have settled down. Although we are very, very sad about our beautiful grotto and Paul’s treehouse, the silver lining is all the firewood we now have for next winter and the warm camaraderie we enjoyed with our neighbors.
If you live in NJ and can I encourage you to donate what you can to assist the folks down in Ocean County and so on. Tabby’s school/church is collecting clothes for families and we brought over the kids outgrown winter things.
It was a weather event and a Halloween we will all remember!