About nine days ago, the sky darkened, the wind whipped some dead leaves into the windows, and the rain drenched our now-defunct vegetable garden (which could have used the drenching this summer).The lights snapped off. Silence reigned inside as the refrigerator, furnace, and hot water heater went into a deep sleep. Outside was another matter. A storm called Sandy came to visit and stay awhile. She forced the amusements on the boardwalks to become quiet and shuttered.
I was prepared. Or I thought I was. As a native clamdigger, I had weathered many tropical storms, summer storms, and nor’easters. I knew to put a cooler outside with bags of ice for refrigerated foods. I stocked up on instant pudding (tastes like glue, but it uses up the milk), filled freezer bags of filtered water ahead of time, and of course made sure my cell and netbook were fully charged, and had plenty of batteries in all sizes. Piece of cake.
Wrong. This superstorm Sandy decided to make herself known in such a way that no one within hundreds of miles of my hometown on the Jersey Shore would ever, ever forget her. For the first two days, my family of four was okay. Still some heat remained in the house, we feasted on food–though cold–that had to be eaten, read everything and anything, and listened to the radio. I found myself staring at it, like people did before television, as if maybe a hologram would appear.
Trees crashed, sand now blew at our screens (the leaves were already somewhere out west), and we pulled on our hoodies, actually using the hoods and tying them tight.
Thankfully our basement remained dry and no tree settled on our couch. By the third day, it became apparent that living without cell phones (which s-l-o-w-l-y died and couldn’t be resurrected without using up precious gas from our cars), computers, television, heat, hot food (never again will we get an electric stove), and hot water, was like torture. I was becoming desperate for just a mouthful of hot coffee.
By the sixth day, taking a shower meant holding your breath, ducking your head under a spray of icy cold pellets, sponge bathing, and reusing damp towels. We were still talking to each other, which is a miracle. I started counting our blessings: warm clothes, police who let us out of town to get that bit of hot coffee at a local store running on a generator, and any smile or bit of mirth from said family. And no ifs, ands, or buts, we would not desert our home. We were strong!
By the ninth day, though, I begged God for deliverance from a house registering fifty degrees fahrenheit. I finally recharged my cell in the car and deliriously called any hotel within the United States. Granted California was a little far, but still…. Anyway, there was no room at any inn, whether it was the Dew Drop or the five star Don’t Even Bother Us inns.
As we sat huddled under blankets and ear warmers under our hoods, chattering incoherently, there was a flash in the sky. Then a flash in our house. The flash in our house stayed on. We rubbed our eyes. Lights! The furnace rumbled to life. I sat by the heating vent, warming my hands and face. Then I happily went from room to room, turning lights on and off, just because I could.
I write the above in a lighthearted way, yet this storm was devastating. We were lucky. No flooding in the basement and no damage from our oak trees that now looked like skeletons. We made it though a storm named Sandy and her aftermath and we are okay. Unfortunately, that can’t be said for many people in our area. Please keep them in your thoughts, and if you pray, do that for them too.