Monday, November 5, 2012

One Week Later...

It seems like I haven't posted for a while. It's been so chaotic lately with the kids' activities and with Chris working late hours at his new job that I haven't had too many free moments. And then Hurricane Sandy was on her way and by nature, I'm a planner. It's what I do. If we are going away for a weekend, I bring the extra pants just in case I spill something, I bring the jacket just in case it gets cold. You never know if you might need something...just in case. So when they started forecasting the storm, I listened at first with hesitation because they always start telling us about these storms so far in advance. But as it came closer and closer, they said it was the perfect storm, they said they never saw a storm quite like it before. It set records for hitting the east coast so late in the season, for high tidal surges, and lowest pressure recorded on the east coast. They warned us. 

Now we don't live near the coast, but this was a monster of a storm and I like to be prepared. The forecasters started saying things like, "When the power goes out," instead of "If the power goes out." So I took inventory. I bought my batteries, and a few more flashlights. I pulled out our old radio and went food shopping. I filled up the cars with gas and went to the ATM. We bought gas for our generator and we checked our back-up sump pump to make sure it worked. We cleared the backyard of loose objects and tied down the basketball hoop. And I even came home from Timmy's basketball game over the weekend to find Shannon raking all the leaves in the backyard because she heard on the news that you should clear all your drains of leaves.

We were as ready as we possibly could be.

Molly's play room in the basement is where our sump pump is...right there in that closet. The day we moved into our house over nine years ago, this room was filled with water. There was three feet of snow outside melting and the sump pump died and the room had six inches of water. So now, we have the strongest sump pump, and a back-up sump pump, and a battery operated sump pump, and a generator to keep our basement dry.

We were as ready as we possibly could be.

And then the rains came.

At first, Chris was going to have to go to work on Monday, but once Wall Street was closed he was able to stay home. The whole family was home and we didn't have to go anywhere. So I baked pumpkin bread...before the power went out.

And I baked cookies...before the power went out.

 This is what Elizabeth does during a hurricane.

And this is what Maggie and Gracie did during the hurricane.

Chris went out a few times to clear the leaves from the backyard. We always get a river running through our yard as the water tries to work its way down to the creek behind our house.

The day turned into night, and the lights flickered.  They even browned out a few times, but they never went out. We were one of the lucky ones. The wind howled, but the lights stayed on.  The trees swayed, but they stayed upright.  The rains came, but the sump pump kept right on working.

The day after, we checked out the creek behind our house.

We also drove by Goose Creek which was definitely beyond its banks.

Chris went back to work on Wednesday in Georgetown. They were ready for the storm.

The flood gates went up at his building in anticipation of the Potomac River cresting beyond its banks, but it never did. We were lucky.

Today marks one week from when Sandy made landfall. One week later most of my family in New York still do not have power, but their spirits are good. They are thankful that their homes did not get flooded or washed away. They are thankful that a tree did not hit their house and that they don't have any major damage that can't be easily fixed. They are thankful that their biggest problem is to find the gas station with gas. They are thankful when they do find a gas station that actually has a supply they don't seem to mind waiting in the long line for hours. They are thankful for the things that they have and trying to make do with what they don't. Even when it is something as big as not having power.

Now don't get me wrong, they all can't wait until the lights come back on, but they know that they have friends and neighbors that that is not enough. They all know someone that has lost everything.

What is remarkable to me is that only one friend has had their power restored in a week's worth of time. I thought I would start to see posts gradually that their power has been restored one by one, but so far that is not the case. Today, I think about my New York friends and family and hope that power starts to come back soon as they get ready for the next storm.

Since it's Monday, here's a book I'd thought I would share. This book is about the blackout that hit the east coast a number of years ago. I was in New York with the kids that summer.  I had just arrived from Virginia and my mom, the kids and I were about to get in the car to go to my brother's for dinner. As we started driving we went through one traffic light that was out and then another and then another. At this point, we turned on the radio and realized that the blackout went as far north as Canada. It was during this blackout that I learned that gas stations can't pump gas without power. I had no gas from driving up from Virginia and did not have enough gas to get to my brother's house from my mom's house. We were stuck. Ever since then, I always try to keep my gas tank at least half full.

Blackout is a great picture book about how the blackout of 2003 and the heat of the summer drove people out of their homes and apartments in New York to the streets and the rooftops. Sometimes, when the lights go out, it can be a good thing, family spends time together, neighbors help out one another, and there is a sense of community.

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