Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: The Pre & Post, Post.

So it’s taken me a while to write the, bitch known as Hurricane Sandy post because........ Because I’m worn out from pre and post Sandy hurricane existence. I did do an interview with Scottie J at Diabetes Monitor the Friday after Sandy hit, you can read about it, HERE
And I MUST apologize for my lack enthusiasm on-line these past few weeks - All I can say is that in Sandy’s aftermath for those that experienced her has left us all feeling a bit tired - And like we lost a few weeks of our lives - And are just catching up now. 

I didn’t want to leave my island for Sandy. When I’d left for Hurricane Irene I ended staying at my sister's 40 miles away, and while my island remanded untouched.... my sister's basement flooded and there were downed trees everywhere. 
This time around I wanted to stay with my things and my town, and was very luckily that my friends invited me to stay with them.
And thanks to staying at their house (which ironically was two blocks closer to the beach then mine,) my car didn't get damaged by the flood. Because on my street the day Sandy hit, the ocean literally met the bay, twice after the double full moon high tides of Sunday and Monday. 
Growing up at the beach you learn about prepping for a hurricane. 
You learn to stock up on bottled water, batteries and to keep non perishable foods like cans of tuna,;boxes of pasta, apple sauce snack packs ,granola bars, canned soups, bread, peanut butter & jelly, etc. 
And if you live with diabetes, you absolutely make sure that you have extra insulin and oral meds, insulin pump supplies, glucose meters, test strips, pump batteries and glucose tabs.  
I had so much diabetes supplies in my suitcase that I barely had room for my clothes and computer and ended up putting my pump supplies, glucose tabs and pills ( the medicine bottles were in a 8X10 ziplock bag)  in a water proof carry-on bag. 
Also, I made sure I had plenty of juice boxes on hand for middle of the night lows - because I don’t want to stumble around in the dark in an unfamiliar house that was  rocking and rolling in hurricane winds.
I ended up moving my pump supplies to a waterproof carry-on - So I could bring some clothes with me.

And you hit the liquor store - Especially if you’re staying with friends because you never want to be the hurricane guest that comes empty handed - Especially when you have no idea how long you'll actually going to be a hurricane guest. 

And I did all of the above. And I also filled my car up with gas the Friday before the storm.
And then I prepped my house for the storm. I put my stuff that was stored in basement on cinder blocks and I put tarp over the the paintings that on my walls. 
I placed all my family pictures and albums in waterproof rubbermaid storage bins that sealed up tight, stacked them in the closet & put a plastic tarp over top of them. 
I unplugged my TV and made sure all my storm windows were closed & taped the inside of my windows. 

At 4pm, Sunday afternoon I ran down to the beach and took pictures - And I knew that Sandy wasn’t going to be one hell of a storm.

Pier on Sunday afternoon of Sandy

dunes and dune fencing pre Sandy
Beach /dune fencing on Sunday

I ran back to my house and finished organizing my stuff and triple checking that I had everything I needed. 
Then I loaded my suitcase, carry-on bag and groceries into the car and did another once through around my house.

Everything seemed in order, but I still had a l hard time leaving my place. 
It’s hard to leave your house when: 
1. Haven't lived there very long and didn't know how storm strong said it
2. You have no idea when you'll be back. 

And I kept worrying about leaks and the roof blowing off and the windows busting..... and I kept feeling like I was forgetting something. 

But when the lights went out and then immediately flicked back on again at 6pm Sunday night, I was outta there and high tailed it to my friends house, ASAP. A power outage that early in to the storm - even a temporary one is NEVER a good sign. 
When I arrived at my friends home, I handed them 3 bottles of wine, a pie and a dozen cupcakes for the kiddies, put my insulin in the fridge and my suitcase and bag in the spare bedroom on the 3rd floor. 
Actually my friend’s husband grabbed my luggage  - And he was like: Kel, you moving in?  
Then we ate a hot dinner, drank some wine, watched the news and made sure our phones and my ipad was fully charged. 
ANd then we waited. 

The winds howled like crazy on Sunday night and the house literally rocked back and forth - It was like being on a cruise ship. At one point I could literally hear my meds and vitamins pills slowly rocking and rolling back in forth in their bottles. 

Late Monday morning at 11:40 (and right after my second cup of coffee,) the power went out - And we knew that it was going to be a long day. We still had gas so we were able cook on the stove top and we lit a fire in the fireplace and listened to a transistor radio and every now and then. 
I did try and get on CNN and facebook via the iPad to see what was happening -but data access was spotty. 
Later that afternoon I saw pictures of my home town and current town flooded beyond anything I’d ever seen before. 
And  all I could say was: HOLY SHIT. 

One of my town's main streets on Monday during Sandy
pic courtesy of facebook
My CVS on the other side of the river.. I mean street on Monday during Sandy.
CVS is now currently closed and being rebuilt - And will hopefully open before the end of the year. 
CVS did set up a trailer in their driveway to fill RXs and we are very grateful.
Photo courtesy of facebook

And I began getting texts from around the globe, George in California, my sister in Colorado, my sister in NJ, my friend outside of Philly like Emily, Penny and Donald. My third cousin once removed in Prague CZ, Cherise in Indy and my brother in Hawaii - And so many others. Same goes for facebook postings and twitter. 
Everyone was worried and wondering how my friends and I were doing - AND I APPRECIATE THAT MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW - THANK YOU. 
We were all doing fine honkered down at my friends house.... We didn’t know what everyone else not in Sandy’s path knew. 
We didn’t know about Seaside Heights or Brigantine, NJ.  And even though we were a block and a half of the beach, we were on dry ground because we were one of the highest parts of the island. 
We were cold from no heat and a bit crazy from the wind howling... And we were nervous ... But we were safe and dry. 
The storm moved quickly. it was originally supposed to hit hard at 9 pm that Monday - During a full moon, but it it moved so quickly and with such ferocity that the eye ended up hitting us around 5: 45 - THANK GOD - because that's what saved us. 
The tail end brought 80 mile an hour winds and sideways rain that lasted all night. 
The wind was deafening and the third floor was rattling and left me wondering if my hosts had any dramamine. 
No power - But making sure I had the means to treat a low in the dark
Tuesday: Normally the day after a hurricane the sun shines brightly and everything is still  and eerily quiet - That wasn’t the case with Sandy. Tuesday was gray, rainy,damp and cold.
We still didn’t have power, but you could go out and survey the damage - And that’s exactly what I did. I still couldn’t make it onto the beach because the steps to the beach were under 3 ft of water, but here are some pictures I managed to take. 
Tuesday after Sandy
Tuesday after Sandy - Can't even make it to the beach.
A pod floated up during High tide on the Monday of Sandy and it's still there
Dune fencing is gone
Driving around on Halloween after Sandy

Lucy still stands overlooking the beach, but sand overtakes Avenue A & there are no other cars in sight On Halloween ~
The nights were pitch black because no streetlights or lamps worked due to the power outages. And every house was black except for the few that were lit by candle light.
It was surreal to drive around my island at 8pm to recharge my cell and know that the only light was coming from the headlights of my Honda. It was scary. 

Wednesday: A sort of martial law went into affect and you could no longer travel between towns - they were literally checking ID’s at the boarders. And those that had left the area before the storm weren’t allowed to go home. They couldn’t check on their homes, businesses or possessions... And it was infuriating for so many reasons.
Those people who couldn't get home were literally left in limbo, and those that had flooded homes lost precious time to save their homes and belongings. 
The people on the island with generators had no way of going off the island to get gas to power those generators because they wouldn't be allowed back on. So even if you had a sump pump and generator to pump out your basement, you couldn't get off the island to get fuel for the generator to run!  

Black hawk down helicopters were flying low along the shoreline daily to checkout the damage to the coast - It was so crazy hear and see that!
The lack of power and heat was getting to those of us on the island. 
I drove back to my house to find the basement flooded with two feet of water and the boiler busted. My land lord had the sump pump but had run our of gas. 
SO I went back to my friend's house. I couldn’t worry about what little I had in the basement, because with almost 2 feet of water, I could only pray that the things I'd stored there weren't totally damaged. 

After I returned to my friend’s house, I sat in my car and charged my phone. I thought about all that was going on and all we didn’t know. And then my friends kids came bursting out of the house and screaming my name: Kelly the power’s back on, the power’s back on!!!! 
All the neighbors ran out into the streets and all the kids were literally dancing and yelling: YAY!!!  THE POWER’S BACK ON!!!
I spent that night (which was also my Divarsary,) celebrating a 6 year old’s birthday and the fact that we’d made it through the storm. 
No one I was with really knew that it was my 35th Diaversary - And I was OK with that - even though I was sad bout it.. 
First off, how could I compete with a 6 year who was celebrating his birthday for the first time ever without having to share it with Halloween? Add to the fact that his uncle had broken martial law and ridden his bike (with a baby buggy attached behind it ) 9 miles through four shore towns each way to meet a friend at one of the boarders to pick up a birthday cake. 
And that 6 year little boy had the best birthday, ever! 
I still have all year to celebrate my 35 Diaverssary, - And I’d rather celebrate it with you guys - More on the Diaversary and all awesome cards I received to follow in another post! 

But back to Sandy. I’m glad I stayed in my town, even if it was the storm of the century. 

But what I really wasn’t prepared for was the aftermath and the feelings that overwhelm you when you see your town and the people you love thrown for loop. 
You can’t prepare for seeing the main street flooded or hearing about so many friends who were flooded out and lost everything because of Sandy.
You can’t prepare for not having heat for weeks ( my boiler wasn’t replaced for 10 days, which meant 10 days of no heat) or driving around town and seeing peoples whole lives were literally set out on the curb to be taken away with the trash. 
It’s depressing and you can see the stress on peoples faces.
My basement

You see scenarios like this all over town, even 3 weeks after Sandy. 

Like when I went to vote on Election Day. At the polls I ran into 12 people that I knew that had lost either their homes, cars or both. 
It became a daily occurrence to see the  Red Cross trucks driving down the street and announcing that they had hot meals for people. 
And every day since the storm of seen a barrage of utility trucks, backhoes, trackers and cherry-pickers along the main and back streets trying to make things “right."  
And everything was perfectly normal 6 miles inland - And that was just bazaar!
Power Crews
Down the street from my house 11/20/2012
2 weeks after Sandy
And it’s overwhelming because you feel like you can’t help enough - And you feel guilty for being lucky.

And there are times when you wonder out loud and to friends: How are things ever going to get back to normal?  
For two weeks there was no place to buy a quart of milk in a 5 mile radius - not to mention the fact that all 3 pharmacies were flooded out. 
The main street looked like a ghost town, with stores still boarded up and sandbags strewn all over the streets. Sandbags that were supposed to protect, but could not. 

Your feet hurt from wearing rain and or work boots for two weeks and now after three weeks, it's incredibly weird to continually hear the sound of sand crunching under your shoes when you walk on the sidewalks and streets, even though you can't always see it. 

And you have a new found appreciation for all the little things in life - Like being warm, or realizing that your family pictures weren’t destroyed. 
And even thought your car had $250 worth of water damage, it still ran - And it only took a day to fix. LUCKY.
And when my boiler finally did got fixed, I don’t realize how tired I was from being cold all the time. 
It literally took me two days to warm up again. And I knew that I was very lucky to get a new boiler so quickly - because so many still don't have heat. 

After not watching TV for 5 days it was literally shock and awe when you saw the news and all of of Sandy’s destruction - You can’t take yourself away from the TV screen and you can’t believe what your seeing, 

You’ve seen and experienced acts of compassion first hand you - And you know both exist. 

But you still have moments of anger and exasperation. Like when you see antique walnut bed frame that was up on cinder blocks in the basement  - And was your grandmother’s and your mom's with water damage.
And you have to remind yourself that:
1. It’s only stuff
2. You could have had a lot more stuff damaged or lost - like your house, car & all your belongings 
3. You one lucky bitch to have a roof over your head and heat.

And you want to slap the people on facebook who were posting offensive things on both sides the day of and  after the election because of petty statuses. 

And everyone you talk with feels like they’ve lost two and a half weeks of their lives. 

But you keep going because you have to and because you know for a fact it could be worse - You’ve seen the worst on the news.... And in the homes and faces of so many of your friends. 

And you realize that it’s going take a lot of time for things to get back to normal for everyone. 

Even after all thatm  I am still so glad I stayed, I really am.  
And things are indeed getting back to normal - Stores are reopening everyday and are desperate for your business - so come to the Jersey shore and shop! 

And Jersey will survive and Jersey will be stronger.... Because that’s how we do it in Jersey ;) 


Scott E said...

Thank you so much for posting this Kelly. I'm up in the hills in Morris County, where we didn't get hit nearly as bad as you did. But it is surreal in the way we learned about what happened in other places. First through radio descriptions and sparingly via still photos on a cellphone, and I thought "wow". Then when I had access to a TV, that becomes a capital-letter WOW!

I'm SO GLAD you made it out OK and that you still have a home to go back to. I knew you lived near the shore and was a bit worried for you. (And I see that you use Silhouette infusion sets. I've got a bunch since switching over to Sure-T's. If you're running short, let me know!)

StephenS said...

Kelly, so glad that you are alive and well, and warm. Please let us know if there's anything we can do for you.

You made lots of great points here. Thanks for sharing.

Kate Cornell said...

Wow. Just wow. We don't have cable so I didn't get to see much of the news but did see stuff online. I'm so glad that things for you personally weren't as bad as they could have been. I continue to feel so badly for those who were affected by the storm. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I hope your community is "back to normal" soon!

Jess said...


I've never been through a hurricane, so I can't even imagine what it's been like for you. To watch your home be attacked like that.

I'm so glad you're ok, and I hope that writing about it helped a little.

Scott K. Johnson said...

So glad you guys made it through Ok. It had to be a very emotional time for you.