After Sandy: Life on the South Shore of Long Island
My daughter, Carsen, is in Manhattan, and I am on the south shore of Long Island. We blogged about Superstorm Sandy from before it started through the day after. But the story continues below and on Carsen's Blog.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012: Day 2 Post-Sandy
“You have to stay in it to win it.”
This is written on the only salvageable piece of paper from Don’s old house. It burned down the night of Superstorm Sandy says. The words seem prophetic.
Like Sandy saying “Eff you!” and God saying “Don’t give up, people!!!!!”
I am still in shock at the condition of the house. We lived there. Our children laughed in this house, and jumped in the canal to swim. We fell in love here. Don is upset.
Across the canal from the old house, we speak to Tim and Mary Jo, our old neighbors.
“Oh my God. I can’t believe it. This could have been us.”
“No,” says Mary Jo. “You would have taken some precautions, and this would not have happened to you.” This makes me feel better.
“How bad was it?”
“I have never been so scared in my life.” Mary Jo is probably the strongest person I know. For her to be scared gives me chills.
They have flooding, as do all the people on this canal. And not one but two fires.
Another house next door to Mary Jo also exploded in a gas fire. Miraculously, Tim and Mary Jo had gone to check on the elderly couple about 20 minutes before the explosion, and talked them into coming over to ride out the storm. Thankfully, they did or they would have been killed. Mary Jo downplays this, but I know she and Tim saved that couple. Call it God or coincidence or intuition. It is a miracle. The town has already razed that gas-explosion house and sealed the gas leak.
The rest of the block has furniture and debris in front of every house. Fences became giant sieves for the tidal surge. I read about volunteer firefighters in nearby Massapequa Park, who got stuck out on one of these canals and had to break into a house to escape the rushing water.
I am so sick to my stomach as we drive; I can’t take any more pictures. There is a guy wandering around with a giant tumbler of beer. He looks devastated. I see people’s eyes as we pass, and see emotional devastation. All we can hear is generators. I have decided: I do not like that sound.
It is getting dark, so we head home. It is so dark in pockets of Massapequa and Seaford without the power that it is to-the-bone creepy. "Apocalyptic" is a word people use frequently right now. My home with lights makes me feel overindulged and guilty. I offer everyone I know food and hot showers with fluffy towels.
I have more photos in my Flickr stream. Some of them are hard to write about.
Texts are still spotty at best. For every four I send, I know only about one gets through. Forget about getting a call through, unless you are on a land line. So many people have no power, and cell coverage is so abysmal that spreading the word about school closures and work is painfully slow.
There are still people from work unaccounted for. I speak to one of the partners at my company, who happens to be on vacation in Hawaii. He grew up in Massapequa and lives in Bethpage. His neighbors have already sent him pictures of his house, which has had trees fall on it. He is devastated to be so far away and not be able to do anything. Another partner has no power and downed trees. One of our programmers has no power and no gas for his car. One person is stuck in Manhattan. Two people made the drive to the office and discovered we have no phone lines or cable. (We are out of luck indefinitely on the cable.) Since I have Internet, I post to Facebook a temporary email address for work, as our mail servers are down. Basically, we are screwed from a communications perspective. Luckily our work servers are with Rackspace, so with personal email we are still up and running.
I ask my boss how they expect us to get to work. Gas is an issue. There are lines a mile long. If stations have power, there is no gas left. If they have gas, they have no power. This dilemma may be a problem until next week, from what I am hearing. We make a family rule: if you see gas, get it. Don’t worry about the cost.
Halloween is a giant bust: We only get about eight kids trick-or-treating, all of them teenagers. They get huge handfuls of candy, after I remember whether or not we even have candy (and that it is actually Halloween).
Rams went to his friend’s house, and two of Don’s girls went back at their moms for the rest of the week, so I had sort of forgotten what day it was.
Rams comes home and crashes. I think this is the first real sleep he has had in days. He is only 13, and he has such a giant heart that he is suffering from stress and conflict about everything around us. His friends have no power and flooded houses. No one can get on XBox but him, so he didn’t get on tonight. He curls up behind me on the couch and sleeps. We leave the lights off.
Carsen heard that the railroad was opening up and offered to come home to help, but I tell her no. I think her place is to document what is going on in the city. (Plus, I also discover that the “opening up” of the Long Island Railroad only entails opening the lines from Jamaica, Queens to Brooklyn –- so how exactly one would get to Long Island is not really part of this reopening). I tell her to stay put and post her photos, and I will do the same from here.
Don has to work in Manhattan tomorrow on a job. I honestly can’t believe there will actually be work and we have no idea how he will get there. We are trying to map out a route now. All of his other jobs have cancelled for the next two weeks, so he has to go. Financially, this is going to be completely devastating for everyone, including us.
No school tomorrow again.
Work only if you can get there. I am monitoring email from here for the whole office.
“You have to stay in it to win it.”
Trying to stay in it with all my might.