Monday afternoon at 4:30 Hurricane Sandy turned out the lights in our part of New Jersey. A power outage in our current home means there is no light, no heat, no phone and no way to cook food. The first night, with the storm raging around us and the rain falling in sheets, was undeniably the easiest. Out of our fast failing fridge we rescued some vegetables, the hard-boiled eggs and two chocolate puddings I'd mixed up before we were hard hit. We ate our salads by candlelight then moved to the sofa for a game of scrabble. On Monday, it was not yet freezing cold, so we enjoyed our quiet game before retiring for the night.
For the rest of the week, we moved around in the darkness, guided alternately by candles and flashlights. We sat in our car, listening to the radio and charging our nearly useless cell phones (evidently the generators powering the towers went, cutting off all communications except text messaging). Each night we brought something from our fridge or freezer to my mother's house where a gas stove and grill made cooking hot food an actuality. Upon returning home, we would immediately take to the bed, the down comforter I'd bought to survive Boston winters saving us from turning into little blocks of ice. A fleet of out-of-state power company trucks hunkered down in the local mall's parking lot, assembling a make-shift home base complete with stacks of poles and rolls of wire and finally grey transformer boxes. I am beyond grateful to those who came to assist us in this time of need. Our power was restored yesterday, nearly a week sooner than the estimates originally provided.
For those of you not in the affected area, please know that the devastation is much worse than what you imagine. The images you are seeing are completely real, but they also focus on the most dramatic and hardest hit areas. The truth is, New Jersey is crippled not only along the shore, but from Mercer county northward. While much of the state was spared the visually arresting destruction that you see on the news, the impact was still great. Many are still without power. Gas rationing has begun in many counties. So many roads are blocked that only a knowledge of the area will allow you to navigate. A GPS will give up and start insisting you turn around. Anyone who has been out and around to affected areas will not be at all shocked by the power restoration estimates because the sheer scope of the outages and damages is so extensive.
If you have it in your means to make donations or volunteer time to help those affected by the hurricane, please consider it. With only 4 days in the cold and dark we were among the luckiest people in the state.