Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Aftermath

I admit to feeling survivor’s guilt right now.

I’m lucky. Sandy’s damage to my house was one shutter that blew off, struck my office window (while I was working!) without breaking it and flew to the other side of my property.

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012
No major tree damage. No holes in the roof, water in the basement or electric wires on the driveway. My husband (MH) even found the shutter in one piece. I put out my feeders and the birds returned, hungry as ever. Maybe hungrier.

My street lost power for about 44 hours. I don‘t play videogames or watch a lot of TV but I found it increasingly impossible during these cloudy, chilly days to function in continual darkness. Even when the power came back, thanks to the complexities of the grid system the corner house next door still has no power; nor does the next street.

But we got off easy. Compare that with Moonachie, where a levee broke and water deluged areas that have never had water after nor’easters and other hurricanes.

Or the Jersey shore. MH is very upset to see areas where his family summered now almost completely destroyed. Long Beach Island. Island Beach.

Or Breezy Point, Queens, just across the channel from where I grew up in Brooklyn. Breezy Point, a fine place to enjoy the beach and the birds, not only was submerged, 100 homes were destroyed by fire - fire in the middle of all that water - because fire fighters couldn’t get in to put the fire out.

Or lower Manhattan, where I worked for so many years, without power from 42nd Street south. A friend who lives in the East 20s says besides the loss of power she has no water and groceries are in short supply. The stock exchange is open and running on generators but it’s only a symbol since nothing else is open. Even the subways shut down for days.

I have read about the gas lines and the fights breaking out. It is why our filled car has not been used in this crisis except to act as my power source for my laptop and cellphone. There is no train service. It was a triumph when Quik-Chek reopened and we could buy a newspaper but there is no milk or sandwich meat to replenish our storm provisions.

If we’re lucky there will be deliveries of food and gasoline to area markets this weekend, which is around the time lower Manhattan and my friends there should - Con Ed willing - get their power back. They have no car. I offer them shelter but without trains running they can‘t easily get across the Hudson.

Another friend, in Bernardsville, is staying in her dark, cold house because she won’t leave without her many pets.

At times like these, what do you say? What do you do to cope? Yes, I am relieved to get the power back because I was able to turn the heat on in an increasingly cold house. I don’t have to sit in my car to work tonight. When things calm down I will do as many of my neighbors did after the freak Halloween 2011 snowstorm and buy a generator.

These “freak” storms are happening far too frequently, if you ask me.

How did Sandy become such a monster? Why didn’t it go out to sea as hurricanes usually do? What made it turn left and hit the Jersey shore?

These storms remind us that when everyone wants to live on the water they get the bad as well as the good. You get the view, you get the floods. I’ve complained before about building where no home should be, particularly on unprotected barrier islands.

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012

But then you realize the devastation was as bad inland as it was at the shore. As you can see in MH’s photo, even towns like mine that are far from major waterways weren’t immune. 

Sandy was an equal opportunity destroyer.

When the only hope people have is to rebuild, I can only hope their next homes withstand the next monster storm.

Better yet, I hope there is no next monster storm.

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