That was me that you saw on your television, or at least somebody whose life looked an awful lot like mine after Hurricane Sandy hit my home state of New Jersey. Ironically, you saw the devastation before I did. My power went out on October 29—and stayed out for two full weeks. I couldn’t see television, couldn’t get online, had no phone service (even the cell towers were damaged), and couldn’t even get a newspaper because the trucks couldn’t get through the debris to deliver. My days became filled with basic survival, everything from waiting in hours-long gas lines to keeping the firewood stacked for warmth after the sun went down. The local food stores, at least the ones that managed to reopen, looked like they had been looted bare. The shelves are still only half-full as I write this fourteen days after the nightmare began.
Even still, I feel thankful that my home was spared the worst of the storm’s destruction. I have a roof over my head, my power is finally back, and nobody I know was seriously injured or killed.
In that vein, I took some time to make note of all the good things that came with Hurricane Sandy, at least the way I experienced the storm. I’m going to try to remember these, as opposed to the so many frustrating moments of the past two weeks:
- As the house gets colder from lack of heat, the wine becomes perfectly chilled.
- No WiFi + no telephones + no cell service = reading, uninterrupted.
- Neighbors helping neighbors, and becoming even better friends.
- Fire-roasted potatoes.
- Watching seasons one through four of “The West Wing” back-to-back via DVD on my laptop, as if my Aaron Sorkin idolatry required any further stoking.
- Getting to swing an axe like Paul Bunyan to break up and remove downed trees all over the yard.
- $12 plush squeaky toys sitting idle while the dogs went crazy for fallen sticks and branches.
- The sheer bliss of an occasional hot shower.
- Noticing that my stinky, loud, gas-guzzling generator’s refill cap is audaciously labeled “Fresh Start.”
- People waiting politely in gas lines that were one, two, or three hours long.
- Local handymen and electricians doing work at fair prices instead of gouging their community.
- The fact that Nicola’s Pizza, somehow, was the only building left with power after the storm—and that the owners showed up to serve three hot meals a day, never knowing what would be available for them to cook.
- My Dad scouring his own area for gas cans, which were sold out for sixty miles, and then delivering them to me so I’d have a three-day supply to keep the generator going.
- Rediscovering long-forgotten sweat shirts at the bottom of the drawer, when doing laundry became impossible.
- Happening to be at Lowe’s when a truckload of Crock-Pots arrived—and having a single working kitchen outlet to use one.