Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hurricane Sandy's Wrath in Lindy's Lake, West Milford, NJ

There were many times over the years that we used to lose power here in Lindy's Lake, our little lake community in West Milford, NJ. When we first moved in if the wind blew in the winter, we'd lose power, so we were used to a day or so without power back then. Service improved and it was only with really big snow storms that we'd lose power for a day or two...then came Hurricane Irene last year when we lost power and internet for 7 days...a record-breaker until this year when Sandy set the record of 10 days without power and 13 days without internet.

We were fortunate that our tree didn't land on our house--instead it fell away from the house, but four of our neighbors had two trees come down on their homes--but miraculously no one was hurt.

As a community, we all came together and the morning after Sandy came stomping through we were outside assessing the damage and it was so much worse than we thought it would be. The odd thing is the trees we were the most worried about are still standing and those we never gave a thought to were uprooted.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...so I'll let the pictures tell the story and I'll narrate, just a little bit.

This beautiful Fir tree in our neighbor's yard across the street from us is the reason we had no internet for 13 days

Just on the other side of the downed Fir tree is a Maple tree that had a huge branch come down and shear off the top of the telephone pole bringing with it the transformer...

the sky light up three times about five minutes apart with an unearthly, but pretty, blue light before the transformers exploded. The transformer is in the middle there by the blue tarp-covered car.

We steered clear of the wires as we took the dog with us to see how our neighbors across the end of our street made out...

This is the shed by our neighbor's home...her home had three Fir trees ontop of it and we couldn't get close enough to take a picture. These two other Fir trees landed one on either side of her larger shed, the smaller one...next to her house was crushed. None of these immense Pine trees belonged to my neighbor...they were from her neighbor behind her--lining the back of his property.

As we walked around the curve of Maple Rd. by the back of our property, we saw the telephone pole leaning over the road and two houses away the top sheared off another pole, but still connected...we wondered what was heavy enough to pull the pole over like that...

and found this big old Fir tree by the Manor House, our lake's clubhouse for activities for the kids, etc., uprooted right next to the Manor house and hanging across the powerlines.

Looking further down the road we saw the last of our neighbor's big old Maple trees, that use to line the back of his property, across the road. He lost the other ones the year before during Hurricane Irene.

Walking around the Manor House we saw that our friend's house hadn't been touched, but half a dozen huge Weeping Hemlock trees had come down around them

Standing by these Weeping Hemlocks we could see trees down in the direction of our house and couldn't get near our neighbors, the trees were totally blocking the road.

We turned and looked to the right and saw the other end of our street and that it was blocked by another Maple tree

We heard that the other road out of our neighborhood was blocked as well...here are pics of what we saw as we made our way to the other main road in our lake... 

These two Pine trees used to be what our kids stood under at the bus stop...and OK call me crazy but all I could remember was constantly telling our oldest not to spit up into the branches so that it would drip down on his little sister and brother...

Here is the house where the trees landed 

 and directly across the street from the bus stop

and here is the Maple tree blocking Otterhole Road...

After checking on our neighbors, especially the older ones, we started the clean-up process. My husband and our oldest son went out to help clear out the trees blocking the roads and the power lines and phone poles on our street and Highview Drive--convinced that the utility workers wouldn't even be able to find us if they didn't. 

Our youngest son was up the mountain working with a landscaper helping to clear out trees. I babysat the generator and monitored the sump pump, etc. while trying to keep in touch with both of my aunts who live at the Jersey Shore and our daughter, son-in-law and darling grandbaby who live 45 mins. north of us in Rockland County, NY.  

Luckily both aunts only lost power and had it restored before we did and our son-in-law's parents, who live five mins. away from our daugther & SIL had power...so they camped out with his parents for the week--so did their other son and his family.

That is what this storm reminded us...to take care of our families, friends and neighbors and to reach out to them. It's why we are all here...IMHO... 

Here is a pic of our street after they cleared out the Fir tree that took out the cable line 

See the piece of telephone pole and transformer still hanging down in the middle of the road? Yikes!

Here's a pic of the end of Highview Drive partially cleared

There are 4 ancient Maple trees that came down and took with it a cinderblock and brick fence that had been there for sixty or so years.

Here are pics from the clean up in our yard...I did most of the lopping and sorting of branches since the guys were next door using chainsaws...oh yeah...and Jamie helped.

Phil started peeling the bark off the smaller branches...easier to burn that way since the wood isn't seasoned. 

We were so lucky during this storm and I'm so grateful to have married a handy man :) We have a generator that we bought second hand about a dozen years ago...we got tired of losing power in the middle of winter and not having water, etc....but it no longer has it's pull cord...it has a hank of rope my DH uses just for that purpose.

Just like last year, he hooked up our neighbor on the right of us, his wife suffers from asthma, so we shared the power, rationed our gas supply and prayed a lot. It got really cold...down to 20 degrees, but was sunny enough during the day and with working outside, we were able to shut the generator down for a couple of hours each day.  

We were worried that we'd run out, especially once the Governor ordered gas rationing like back in the 70s...and wasn't that a fun reminder of sitting on a gas line waiting to fill up my dad's car...and the news that a nor'easter was headed our way! But Governor Christie was right and has done an amazing job...preparing us for the onslaught of the super storm, keeping us apprised of what was happening, and then the massive cleanup effort.

Did I mention how handy my hubby is? Well being out of touch with the weather and news, except for a transistor radio, my hubby remembered that he had an old TV antennae wire from about 30 years ago--don't laugh--because he unplugged the cable from the TV and attached the TV antennae and we were able to watch Channel 7...and that's when we saw the extent of Sandy's wrath on our beloved Jersey Shore.

I heard from my one aunt that the huge salt water pools that made Spring Lake our favorite place to visit in the summer--even after my grandparents no longer had a house there--were gone... and that Jenkinson's Pavilion in Point Pleasant...gone...my one aunt took a video of our kids in 1989 and 1990 on those rides...we still have the video ... I played it and cried.

My other aunt told me that the bridge in Brick washed away....

But we didn't lose our home, so many others did. We were only inconvenienced losing power and internet...and while it was tricky and touch and go for almost two weeks...we are back to normal here...there will never be another normal for so many who lost everything.

My thanks go out to everyone involved in this massive effort and especially the utility workers who worked during the nor'easter to rebuild our power lines and reconnect them to the new transformer...they are heroes. I brewed up coffee and kept asking if anyone wanted any, but they were focused on getting the job done and moving on to the next disaster area. The workers who reconnected us were from Ohio and Michigan...THANK YOU!!!

A big thank you goes out to our neighbor who when he received the telephone message telling him our cable was restored got on the phone and waited over 45 mins. to talk to a warm body to let them know that our cable was still disconnected and lying in the street. They had no idea our cable was out...two hours later three cable trucks showed up to repair the damage and reconnect us...THANK YOU!

My prayers are continuing for my fellow New Jerseyans who still suffer. I know my donation to the Red Cross will be put to good use.  

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh...it is personal pictures like this that bring it home for me. Thank you for sharing them and my thoughts and prayers are with you, your family, friends and neighbors!