Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Superstorm Sandy

Those of us living in the path of Hurricane Sandy all have our own stories from October 29, 2012. In the week following the biggest storm many of us can recall, we still greet each other with "how long did you lose power?" and "how did you fare with the storm?" 

Should have taken a video of the dancing trees. My pictures don't do it justice.

Lucky are all those days nothing goes wrong

I had a couple of thoughts through this experience. One was how often we have a day where nothing goes wrong and we forgot to think how lucky were were that day. It takes a storm with minimal damage before we think of ourselves as "lucky."

We were "lucky" to "only" lose power for 31 hours. A week later some are still without power. At the time, though, it didn't feel lucky. Prior to Sandy, our longest outage was only 4 hours. We did not prepare for losing power. I had plenty of food in the house -- but it all needed to be cooked.

We lost power the first time for an hour when the storm started at 7 AM. In the afternoon (as I was cooking dinner) we lost it for two more hours. Finally at 10:15 PM we lost power for 31 hours. Ashley and I spent most of the day at home. When Don came home and offered to take us back to his office so we could take a shower and use the internet, we were pretty excited by the outing. That shows you how bored we were at home.

One of the biggest issues with losing power is that it pushes you into the fear of the unknown. There is no way to figure out WHEN power will be restored. Nor is there a guarantee that it will stay on. The following Saturday we lost power for another 2 hours. Fortunately it was 10 PM and we just went to bed wondering if we would wake up to have the power restored.

Upgrades are not necessarily improvements

The other thing I learned through the storm was that upgrades are not necessary better in the long run. As the technician was finishing converting us from copper phone lines to "better" fiber optic ones, he told me "by the way, the battery with this system only works for 8 hours. If you lose power for more than 8 hours, you will lose phone service." When I quizzed him on that, he said that's 8 talking hours, not 8 actual hours. He was partially right. We still lost phone service after one brief call and 10 hours.

I also learned that cell phone towers only have an 18-hour battery. After that, they stop working and so does your ability to make a cell phone call. 

Remind me, what was wrong with our copper wire lines?

New-found respect

As Hurricane Sandy was downgraded, and we did not receive the predicted rains, my thoughts turned to the people of New Orleans and all they suffered through Hurricane Katrina. At the worst, Sandy was a category 1 hurricane. Katrina was category 5 hurricane. I'll admit I have not memorized at what wind speeds a hurricane jumps to the next level, but I do know there were the wind was so strong and seemingly never-ending. Surely, it must have been the end of the world about to happen.

I also gained more respect for those without heat and power. We were "lucky" it was "only" 31 hours. By the 20 hour mark I was ready for a hot shower and a chance to get on-line. Our dragon, Sandy Claws, was getting cold. We all took turns snuggling with him.

Therefore, after dinner (cold left-over chicken from our refrigerator that stopped working 19 hours earlier) we drove to Don's office for warmth. We were not the only family in exile that evening. As we left at 9, a family was arriving with their children in the PJs. I wondered if they were planning to stay there all night, or just coming over to recharge.

Overall, our biggest loss was a 20-foot tall willow tree. We are still sad looking at the bare spot, but we still count ourselves lucky.

Ashley's thoughts on the storm:

We lost our power for about 31 hours (before we went to bed on Tuesday and just before we woke up on Wednesday.) 

We did lose a tree. It was, unfortunately, the best tree in the yard. It was a weeping willow. We miss it and are trying to clean it up. A lot up neighbors have come over to "pay their respects". They have all said just how much they will miss it. It was about 20 feet tall. Any taller, and it would have hit the house and caused a lot of damage on the way down.

We did pretty well during Sandy. The biggest thing I was worried about, though, was the dragon. He's from Australia, which is a desert-like climate, so when the electricity was off, he couldn't have his heat lamp on. I think after the storm he was a little mad at us for not turning on his light. Or any light, for that matter. I don't think he liked the darkness. 

How did you fare with the storm? How long did you lose power?

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