When I last left you it was Monday and we were preparing for Sandy in our suburban New Jersey home by moving mattresses down to the girls’ playroom (the lowest place in our house) where we hoped we would be safe. We lost power at about 8:30 pm and soon after, we got the kids to sleep. (Which wasn’t easy since they were so excited about the family sleepover!)
When we got up in the morning after a really rough night’s sleep, we were thrilled to see that thankfully, there was no damage to our house. But when we looked in our backyard, we saw something that we knew would really upset the girls. A portion of our neighbor’s tree had snapped off, broken through their fence, and crushed Sophia and Lily’s swingset.
Last Saturday, I went up on our roof to clean the gutters before the storm and I took some pictures of the yard from up there. You can really get a grasp on the difference when you look at the before-and-after pictures:
Again, we’re thrilled that this is all that happened (we’re all safe and our house is intact) but it really sucks to see your kids shedding tears over their swingset that was brand new just 18 months ago.
Some more damage in our neighborhood:
Our neighbor’s shutter ripped right off their house.
One block away, we found this massive tree laying on a house.
And their next-door neighbors had the same. (I couldn’t bear to take a picture of the huge tree on another neighboring block that had crushed a car and laid blocking the road.)
We heard that the neighboring town had power so we headed over to Target where the line at Starbucks was about 45 minutes long. On the second day, Target had added these tables to accommodate all the people doing work or just using Target for warmth or as a charging station. There were people everywhere you looked just sitting on the floor and getting a charge wherever there was an outlet.
The aisles were filled with people shopping – some out of boredom but mostly because no one wanted to sit in their cold houses any more.
Since we have an electric stove, we couldn’t even make anything hot. So our meals looked like this. (Thankfully, my kind neighbors boiled some water for me each morning so I could make some instant coffee.)
Since we were powerless on Halloween, there was word that lots of parents were going to take their kids to the train station parking lot for a Trunk or Treat where the kids get to dress up and trick-or-treat from car to car. Unfortunately, the police heard about it and blocked off the parking lot. I guess there was a liability issue: kids + cars + town property. It was just another disappointment in a tough week for the kids. We did do a little trick-or-treating at 4 or 5 houses on our street. ( I bet you didn’t know Cinderella wore mittens, did you?)
That afternoon it turned really cold and our moods started to sour. School’s were closed and NJ Transit wasn’t running so I had no way to get to work in the city. We were stuck. And though we tried to make the most of it, we were slowly faith (and feeling in our toes). That night when Pablo got home from work (his office had power and he was smart enough to fill up the tank before the storm), we had dinner by candlelight and Lily enjoyed the simple pleasure of an M & M cookie.
After dinner, we lit a fire in the den with that great firewood that we got in Maine.
In an effort to keep it all fun for the girls, we created a low-tech dance party. Pablo played the piano and sang while the girls and I danced. (The light in this picture is just from the flash of the camera! We were dancing in the dark!)
On Thursday, me and the girls gave up hope that we would regain power, that school would reopen, and that I would find a way into the city so we left to take refuge at my parents’ house. It was a hell of a drive (a fire caused a closure on 95 which made the trip take 7 hours instead of 4) but I still feel like I need to be thankful that a power outage and a crushed swingset is the worst part of this for us.
After spending some time at my parents house with power and getting to watch some of the hurricane coverage on TV, I can’t believe how badly some areas were hit. What happened on the Jersey shore and in Staten Island is shocking. But just to give you a little perspective of how the storm affected people in other areas of NY and NJ, here are some stats from my town. In Westfield, NJ, 90% of homes lost power. And as I write this on Friday night, 50% are still without power, including mine. Seventy-three homes sustained damage and 10 have been condemned. So, even where the destruction was not as bad as it was at the shore, we still have families that are left homeless because of this storm.
Please donate here to help those in need. I hope you all made it through Sandy safely.
Sue at Home