So yeah. That Hurricane Sandy thing happened. I figure I can break some writing rust talking about it.
As many of you know, I live in northern New Jersey. I’m just on the border into New York. Word of Hurricane Sandy brewing came maybe a week and a half prior and the talk at work was how it was supposed to be worse than the storm from the Perfect Storm. I chose not to really take it seriously and instead made jokes about George Clooney. As it got closer and my boss became a bit more wary on us being open for certain days, there was still a bit of denial in there. One of my coworkers figured that in situations like this, the supermarket chains pay the weather channels to sensationalize everything so more people go on food shopping sprees.
As it got closer and closer, the reality started to set in some more. Especially when on Sunday night, the district manager called our store to say not to open on Monday at all. Keep in mind, the storm wasn’t supposed to kick in until 6pm on Monday. I guess they were just afraid of people coming in for the early shift and then being stranded in the mall when it was time to go.
I at least prepared enough. I got extra food. I loaded my tablet with movies and CHIKARA shows. I stayed glued to all the weather stuff on TV. On the Weather Channel Sunday night, it made it seem REALLY bad. The next day, watching local affiliates, it seemed less bad. Mainly because there was some kind of big CONE OF DESTRUCTION or whatever they were calling it that was going to cause the most trouble and my county was outside of that direct path. As I sat there with my dad, watching the storm start up outside, we figured that if things hold out for just a couple hours, we’d be all right. That optimism faltered when I’d watch the news and see them have multiple technical difficulties every other minute.
The power cut out at 7:30pm.
I still have two major storms fresh in my mind, both from last year. There was Hurricane Irene and that nasty Halloween snow storm. Irene wasn’t really all that bad outside of cutting out the power for so long. I went to sleep with the power on, woke up with the power off, walked outside and the weather was absolutely beautiful. Sure, there were twigs littering the street, but everything had dried up by that point and you’d hardly even believe that there was a drop of rain. The snow storm was a bad trip because it was too early for there to be snow. All the trees still had leaves and they acted like catcher’s mitts, holding onto more snow and weighing down trees to dangerous extents. That ended up causing far more damage than Irene did. Plus having no heat when there’s mountains of snow outside is a minus on its own.
Waking up on Tuesday, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that the storm had passed, going against the warnings from the news that it would be a 36-hour situation. It rained on and off that day, but nothing worth worrying about. The bad news was that it didn’t share the same, “Oh, there was a storm?” aftermath of Hurricane Irene. With Sandy, the sky was still dark with clouds and the streets looked just a little bit post-apocalyptic.
This tree fell two houses down from me. The homeowner was lucky that he/she moved the cars up so far. I walked around for a couple hours, mainly to see if I could get some kind of cell phone signal. I wasn’t getting too much luck, so I’d turn my phone off for six hours at a time, since roaming for a signal caused it to drain too easily. The streets were filled with threes tearing down phone lines and I saw a couple trees buried into the nearby houses. There were also exposed wires on the sidewalks and other pitfalls.
The great irony was that Kings was open. Kings is a local grocery store in my town that’s notorious for having an easily-flooded parking lot. They always feel it when there’s a storm and Irene caused them to be closed for about a week due to a foot of water in the store. And yet, here they were. 98% of the town appeared to be cut off from electricity and they were all right.
A nearby town has a diner called the Ridge that I practically grew up in. They tend to make out okay in these situations by standing strong the day after and this time is no different. The lines to get a table were monstrous. My family and I went there on Wednesday and when we left, the wait had become 45 minutes for new patrons.
Around this time, David texted me to make sure I was okay. I really appreciated that. David’s a really good guy.
I didn’t have work on Tuesday so I didn’t bother checking in with them, but I was scheduled to close on Wednesday – which, of course, was Halloween. In a backpack, I carried some styling gel, brown overalls and a cut-sleeved orange shirt so I could work in costume as Wreck-It Ralph, but after powering through the traffic (mostly made up of people waiting on line for gas), I got to the mall and found the parking lots strangely light. Driving by the store, I found that the lights weren’t on and the sign said they’d reopen when they got power. Well, crap. My phone was down to the red and I wasn’t going to be able to charge it at work like planned.
Luckily, it turned out one of my brothers regained electricity. I stopped by unannounced (I didn’t have enough juice in my phone to call ahead) and he helped me out. Over the next few hours, I got to see some of the ACTUAL damage of Hurricane Sandy on the news. The images of the Jersey Shore were sobering to say the least. I’m not even going to follow that line up with an obvious joke. Knocked down trees was one thing, but seeing how badly others got it got me to button my lip on any complaints.
According to the power company, we weren’t scheduled to get power back until Monday night, but I didn’t mind it so much by this point. Yes, I missed the stuff it gave me and going to sleep at 8 out of boredom only to wake up at midnight was a pain in the ass, but I was fine with my diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as well as eating tuna straight from the can. Once things got better, I was at least able to fit in some restaurant dinners, so all I was missing was TV, the ability to write stuff and reason to stay up late and get a good night’s sleep.
Once things started to rebuild on the electricity front in the area, the big problem became gas. Once again, I was very lucky. I refilled my tank just before the pre-storm hysteria hit so as I write this I still have about a week’s worth of gas left (note: the Honda Civic is fucking awesome at slow gas consumption). Some stations had no power and with everyone panicked, they would swarm working stations like locusts until there was no gas left. Lines would go on forever and my mom had to wait two hours one morning just to get some gas. The crisis reached a level in the area where they’d have to do the old school “odds/evens” rule. If the last number on your license plate is odd, you can only get gas on odd-numbered days. Same with evens. I believe vanity plates with no numbers count as odd. Thankfully, things appear to be settling down on that front and we should be back to normal in a few days. I hope.
A coworker did have his gas siphoned in the middle of the night. That’s bullshit.
After four days off from work, I came in Friday morning with two hours sleep. Unless it counts as sleep if you lay in bed wide awake for eight hours with your eyes closed. So many people sitting around the store, plugging in their stuff for the sake of charging. I had the same shift on Saturday, but found out that my power had come back on two days earlier than expected. Yay!
And so the chapter of Sandy is over for me. Well, outside of the donating and all that. Like I said, it was an inconvenient week. I couldn’t watch South Park. I had to wear a ridiculous flashlight headband whenever I needed to hit the can. Roadblocks were everywhere. I bought those brown overalls for nothing. That OKCupid date I was going to go on was postponed. My oldest brother’s planned NYC show for Microsoft where he was going to have the Statue of Liberty wrestle King Kong (don’t ask) was cancelled. My back hurt from spending most hours of the day in bed. I was SO BORED!
But who cares? I had my family. I had food. My home received no damage. I had my stuff. I had my car. I had my job. I got off easy. I wish I could say the rest for everyone else in the tri-state area.