A week ago, at this very moment, I posted a semi-lighthearted Facebook status -- something about my husband Garth (not his real name) going out and hunting down donuts before we all go Amish for the next few days -- having lived in the Bayshore area of New Jersey all our lives, we are no strangers to storms.
Truth be told, considering Hurricane Irene ripped us a new one a little over a year ago, my husband and I were more than just a little concerned about our roof riding out the projected monster of a storm known as Hurricane Sandy (a.k.a. #Frankenstorm, #Blizzicane and/or #Snor'eaterscane).
Our house loses power whenever the town burps or hiccups (see also: FUBAR) so, stocking up on can goods, batteries, candles, lots of ice and Ibuprofen (okay, that last one was for me) is pretty much the norm.
I continued posting snarky stuff on Twitter too, like: whoever came up with #Frakenstorm is most likely NOT from Jersey, better known as #Frigginstorm.
Or, contrary to what some folks believe about NJ, how I did NOT plan on being very warm and/or welcoming...sorry, Sandy.
Then the lights went out, we lost ALL contact with the outside world and stuff in our town started blowing up.
Thanks to Sandy making landfall at around 6:00 p.m. (est) in Atlantic City, NJ (90 miles, or approx. 90 minutes, South of us on the Garden State Parkway) the next 24 hours would prove to be NOT ONLY the scariest (seriously, stuff sounds SO MUCH worse, in the dark!) it was a challenge just to keep the kids away from the windows...me, too!
The kids camped-out in the living room, while Garth (not his real name) and I kept an eye on the trees in the backyard (only one fell, it missed the house, we were lucky) and we ALL marveled at the green and blue lightning.
Until, the laws of light vs. the speed of sound hit and we realized that they were actually power lines and/or transformer stations exploding throughout the neighborhood and in surrounding towns.
I feel it safe to say there are not many people who could claim to have slept very well, last week.
The absolute worst part of the following day(s) -- besides huddling around the radio and listening to the reports of the devistation around us -- was the "not knowing" and, because we had little or no cell service, not being able to communicate with family and friends was beyond frustrating.reports of the shattered boardwalk and hearing that the roller coaster was now in the ocean...well...enough said.
Our power stayed out for the rest of the week: however, the gas stove top turned out to be our most valuable resource (boiling a pot of water made for EXCELLENT radiant heat, btw) and I very nearly made out with our hot water heater, thankful for the ability to take a shower, every morning.
Daytime was a lot easier: we caught up on some reading and my 2 youngest even invented a new board game -- sort of like, if Lord of the Rings and Dungeon and Dragons had a baby -- which was WAY too complicated for me to, you know, want to play along.
We each took turns cranking a handheld emergency radio from, well, I don't remember where I got it from, but I was sort of cursing myself for getting rid of all the battery-operated radios my kids used to play with...DAMMIT!
My youngest was bummed about not being allowed to go out and trick-or-treat (downed trees, wires, flooding, etc...) so, while my son and I were ignoring the EXTREMELY long gas line that was forming on the one gas station we saw open on the way to my folks' place (we clocked it at 2 miles long) my oldest girls dressed up and helped Hope celebrate with a Halloween party here at home.
They even saved some candy for their brother: or we just got home in time to get us some, whatever.
Night time proved to be a little more challenging: especially, when it started to get cold and our bodies insisted that it just had to be MUCH later than 7:00 p.m.
I was very thankful for the non-stop radio updates and -- although I still can't bring myself to view pictures online -- it was very easy to imagine how much worse it could have been.
Helping our next neighbors pull a tree off of their roof, watching fire trucks put out the house that caught fire down the corner where my kids catch the school bus, and finally venturing out to try and find a gas station with working gas pumps (or gas) and getting a bird's eye view of the devastation, just outside our own backyard, my husband and I can't help but still feel as if we had dodged the perverbial bullet.
Saturday, I dropped my kids off at my folks' place (they got their power back on Friday) just so that they can get a small sense of normalcy.
I pulled into my driveway and was JUST about to complain about one of the kids leaving the porch lights on and...HEY...WAIT A MINUTE!!!
My hand literally shook as I unlocked the front door: I walked in and just stood there, listening to the sound of our furnace blowing warm air through the vents, feeling our house get warmer by the second and I could NOT think of a better homecoming.
Aaaaaand, this will forever be my new normal:
Thank you ALL for your good thoughts and prayers. There is still SO MUCH work to be done. Our infrastructure has changed drastically (mostly in the worst possible ways imaginable) so, right now, the thought of rebuilding 127 miles of total and absolute destruction may very well be...well...unthinkable.
However, there was a time when folks were afraid to admit that they are from Jersey: fuhghettaboutit, not anymore.
Keep strong, Jersey...YO!!!
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