Sunday, November 11, 2012

Off Topic: That Was the Two Weeks It Was - Nov. 11, 2012

Plainfield Train Station after the storm

It's Sunday morning, time for my weekly off television topic reflection on the week gone by in both words and photographs I've taken. Of course, this week it's actually about the past two weeks, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. I'm still feeling quite discombobulated here, so please bear with me. My power was out from Monday, October 29, until Thursday, November 8. That doesn't sound that long, does it? Well, when it's cold, dark and a bit on the scary side, it can turn your life upside down.

I realize that many folks had/have it much worse than we did here where I live in New Jersey, but it was still an ordeal I wouldn't wish on a soul. Folks are still walking around shell-shocked. I've lost a bit of the shell-shocked and am merely discombobulated, dazed and confused at this time. 

Eventually I might write more about the whole experience, but for now here are some random (yet chronological) thoughts and reflections on the experience:
  • The wind was the worst I've ever experienced that wasn't a tornado. I've been through tails of hurricanes, nearby tornadoes and such before. At times it seemed to have the train sound of a tornado.
  • Prior to the storm, I expected the power might be out for a few days. I had plenty of water as I don't like the taste of the tap water here. I order it regularly from Peapod grocery delivery.
  • I had a good stock of canned foods -- vegetables, mostly. I could easily last a few days. We were out three days with last year's October snow and four days with Irene.
  • When my power went out, I noticed the floodlight on the lawn next door was on. Then I noticed our building lights (halls and parking lot) were on. Well, that wasn't fair! Just as I was contemplating getting a long extension cord to the hallway plug, all went dark.
  • I looked out the window into a world of blackness as far as the eye can see.

Where I voted on Tuesday evening

I vote at the Richmond Towers, an apartment community for the elderly and disabled. As such, they run on back-up power during power outages. They're about a two minute walk from where I live. They were not a shelter although it seemed a bit that way on voting day!

After I took the above shot, I turned my camera towards my apartment ...

Into the darkness

Except for the lights of cars coming and going ... totally black.


Spirits were still high with a sense of adventure in the first few days after the storm. The kids (who ended up being off from school for at least two weeks) were especially resilient.

The little boy in the leaf pile with his feet up was especially adorable. As we talked about him going back to school, he turned to me and said, "If it doesn't snow this year, I will fall on the floor and die." He said it in all seriousness. Who knew he'd get his wish for snow in just a few days?

I must briefly interrupt this to tell you that you might want to go get a cup of joe and settle in. This is going to be LONG.

In this whole "adventure," I'm grateful for my dear friend Laurie Miles (my texting to the world liaison), my brother Russ who called me every day on my working landline, all my friends from the blog and otherwise, Nancy and Barbara who invited me over to their local homes when their power returned before, mine, the local bodega for charging my cell phone although they were running on generator power, my workplace for paying us while we were out the first week and being understanding about schedule changes due to transit issues all this past week, Linda (Zoetawny) for calling me long distance on my landline from California. Oh. And my cat Vincent.

THINGS of mine I'm grateful for:
  • My old school plug in the jack in the wall and doesn't use electricity landline. I'm not a huge phone person, so I never really upgraded the phone. Wait. I did buy a new one last year -- $9.99 at a dollar store. The phone worked throughout the outage, nary a problem.
  • My gas oven. I always liked gas ovens better for cooking, but they surely win in an extended power outage with temperatures outside dipping below freezing.
  • My dumb phone cell phone which, when we could get signals here (cell towers were down/damaged), kept me in touch with the world texting-wise.
  • My police scanner which kept me in touch with what was happening throughout the city.
  • Have I mentioned that I'm not really a texting type person?
  • My almost brand new carbon monoxide/smoke detector which gave me more courage to run the stove a bit more ... at least while I was awake.
  • My MP3 player with its FM radio.
  • Linked a bit with that last one, WNYC, the local NPR radio station which, although on back-up power, was the strongest signal I could get on the radio. NJ 101.5 came up in the second week, but would fade in and out.
  • Books.
  • Daylight hours. I really know not to waste daylight now!

The roof on the church next door to next door suffered

Shingles missing, a whole hunk missing. My windows look out on their parking lot as I look beyond the backyard of the house next door. In walks after the storm, I saw roof shingles everywhere I went. This was responsible for the red shingles in my immediate neighborhood. I have no idea where the chunk of roof missing went. I'm glad it wasn't my windows. Do take note -- this isn't a ramshackle church. That roof had been in fine repair.

My apartment hallway

Even in the daytime, it was dark as there are only windows at the ends and one in the middle of this long corridor.

At night using the flash on my camera

At night using my little LED blue flashlight

My little blue LED flashlight on my keyring did provide enough light to walk in the corridor. Its reflection is in the glass by the stairs in the rear. I didn't go out at night until I returned to work this past Monday.

I call this next slideshow "You Can't Get There From Here" --

Why are they parking on the lawn?

This is the house next door to next door from the other side of my apartment building. Huh. Why is that rear window of the minivan covered?

Oh. This is why.

Richmond Towers from a few blocks away

It looks like the roof on the tower on the right is damaged.

The lobster lives!

The giant lobster atop the old BPOE building on Watchung Avenue quasi-survived Sandy. Don't ask me why there's a giant lobster atop the old BPOE building.

I call this next slideshow "Signs of the Times" -- I must admit I like the fact that the old Beverly Milliner sign is once again revealed. The plastic chunks from the "PLAZA" sign could have killed someone. They were about a half-inch thick.

Business is good

A man on a bicycle collects pieces of aluminum siding to sell as scrap metal. That was all over, although not as prevalent as roof shingles.

He missed a piece.

I call this next slideshow "Oh My" --

More to come ... but I can't forget Vincent, can I?

Get that flashlight out of my eyes!


Delee said...

You are slowly getting back to normal and I am glad you were safe during that long time. I agree a gas stove is a great asset to have with the power gone. Thanks for the local hood'pics. Vincent pictures always makes my day brighter!

Becky said...

Jackie, thank you for sharing your pictures. We are all thankful that you and Vincent made it through the storm with no major problems.

Gas stoves are great when the power is out, especially when one gets clobbered with a snow storm after a power outage.

Looking forward to "seeing" you and everyone tonight.

Sally said...

Great photos, Jackie. Thanks for sharing them. You have such a keen photographer's eye. It's wonderful when kids (and cats) can be resiliant in challenging situations. I hope your area's recovery makes good progress.

SueGee said...

Great pictures of your neighborhood/town! TG for the "old fashioned" things in life that work despite our efforts to get rid of them! I still have one old fashioned phone if needed and a gas stove, but it has electronic ignition instead of pilot lights - so the oven would be very hard to light.

We on FB lived for a daily report from your part of the world, and we celebrated with you when the power came back to stay! Here's hoping for a mild "normal" winter!

See you all tonight in chat!

SueGee on the Left Coast

lynn1 said...

Great Photos of life after Sandy.
Jackie, you may qualify for a disaster relief check from the Red Cross.
After Katrina we qualified based on the perishable food we lost and had to replace. It was not chump change either a few hundred may want to check into it.

Holly said...

WOW Jackie! As usual your pics are amazing! So glad you had the land line and the gas stove! We have been grateful for ours on many occasions too! Thanks for sharing your story with us. Like SueGee...I watched for your updates on FB but this weekly "off topic" blog is a MUST READ for me every week!

Palmaltas said...

Really enjoyed the photos and slide shows. So glad you and Vincent made it through the storm and aftermath.

RSchnoop said...

Welcome back! Though I don't really care too much for the shows you cover, I love and look forward to your coverage of real life in your "Off Topic" entries each week. It appears that Plainfield got pretty messed up! I hope it doesn't take too long for the area to get back to normal.

Anonymous said...

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