Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hurricane Sandy comes to Raritan Bay

It was October 24th and the weather channel and the BoatUS hurricane warning system were calling for a very strange weather condition to happen in New Jersey.  A hurricane and Northeaster were going to converge on New Jersey.  The crazy thing was the storm was going to hang a hard turn to the west and crash into New Jersey.  Many thought this could never happen as it has not before, myself included.  As it got later in the week, the worse fears were still on the table and they were calling for a very bad situation for those who reside in the great Garden State.  It was October 27th and I went down to Keyport to get my boat out of there.  I have left her there before and she was well taken care of by John Olsen (Harbor Master and boat yard owner), but this time I wasn't taking any chances plus I was leaving for Korea on Sunday morning.  As usual, she was all ready for me to tie down and secure a few things before towing her home, but that went about as easy as you could imagine.  Once home she was placed in her winter retirement area where she could easily be worked on over the winter.  All went fine, I left for Korea on Sunday morning and arrived there 22 hours later.  Knowing of the impending storm, I called home to check on my wife who was home alone.  I had set up the generator, ran extension cords, bought batteries and flash lights, left her a bag of luminary candles, stocked up with food and water, and then spoke to the neighbors to watch over her while I was away.  When my call finally went through she advised that it was just a little windy and all was okay at that point and she would be fine.  It was about 11:00pm in Korea and 10:00am in New Jersey on October 29th.  I went out and had the meetings at the Korean factories and when I returned later that night I thought I would check on her.  I could not get through, I tried her cell phone, I could not get through, I tried facebook, I could not get anyone,  I was very concerned at this point.  I turned on the TV to CNN and was blown away by the news about this MEGA STORM that had crashed into New Jersey.  For the next couple days I tried and tried to communicate but without success.  This made me sick.  We had been flooded by hurricane Irene and this was suppose to be much worse.  Was my home still there, is my wife okay?  I carried my IPAD and kept checking the the news until I finally got my daughter who told me she had spoken to one of the neighbors and that everything was okay at home, but there was no power, telephone, cell phone, or gasoline.  Well, this made me feel somewhat better, but to think of your wife sitting at home trying to take care of everything when she was so accustomed to have me do it for her still had me worried

Thursday, November 1st finally came and it was time to head home.  We had a non stop flight from Seoul to San Francisco leaving in the afternoon.  Everything went fine but we were worried if we would be able to get the next leg of our flight into Newark.  We talked about what we could do if Newark was still closed and that would be to fly as close to New Jersey as possible and then rent a car and drive the rest of the way. Went we got to the United Club they informed us the flights were on time to Newark as there were not many planes there and the airport wanted to get the traffic moving again.  Thank goodness!

The flight was another long one and I worried and thought about what I would do when I got home.  We arrived about 11:30pm in Newark and moved as quick as we could to get our luggage and get to our car.  When we flew in there didn't seem to be too much problem with power being out as there were lights all over the place from the air.  When we drove out of the airport and got onto route 22 hoping to also get some gas, we ran into a big surprise.  There was no power which means no gas.  We came upon a couple gas stations, but the lines were about a mile long. We decided to keep going.  When you take away the power and lighting the areas that look familiar are now strange and erie looking.  I found it hard trying to figure out where we were and these were areas I knew.  We ran into detours and road blocks once we turned off of the highway and a simple 10 minute trip now took 20 plus minutes.

I arrived home around 1:15am on Friday morning the 2nd of November.  My wife was in bed sleeping under two down quilts.  The house was about 62 degrees and the generator was running keeping the food cold and one light in the kitchen on for me.  I was exhausted at this point and gave her a kiss letting her know I was home safe and she awoke to tell me about the storm.     The neighbors had been very helpful in keeping the generator running, going out to buy her gas, and checking in on her.  Good thing I had her take money out of the bank before the storm hit.  I sat on the bed and listened to all the things that had happened and finally got under the covers and went to sleep.

The next morning I got up and took a walk around our small one square mile town to see what had happened.  I was shocked by the trees and telephone poles that were down.  Power cables and wires are down all over the place.  Nobody has power and you hear the roar of generators running all over.  People were caring for their neighbors and running extension cords to the neighbors to help save the food in their refridgerator and freezers.  There was a sense of people pulling together to get through this disaster.  There little one could do, but wait for power and the streets to be made passable.

The storm brought with it damage like never seen before.  But once we had a chance to get out of the house we drove to Bethlehem Pennsylvania to get gasoline for my truck and containers for the generator.  I setup the television that afternoon so we could watch DVDs, I used the stove to heat the house, picked up all the branches in the yard, and recovered the boat in the backyard.

It was now time to check on my friends and summer hangout Keyport.

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