(UPDATED) Go Away, Sandy: Mother and Daughter Blog the Storm
By JennYoungHibbs on October 28, 2012
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Sunday 4:20 PM ET
They have ordered a mandatory evacuation for everyone south of Merrick Rd. This means us. We have chosen to stay for now and see what happens with high tide tonight before we make our final decision.
The winds have started to pickup and it has gotten much colder. It has also started sprinkling. Still no birds.....
Sunday 6:35 PM ET
We played a game of "Word on the Street." We bought it yesterday and broke it in already. It may not be the all-consuming game that Banangrams is for our family, but it'll do.
My friend Tom called and gave the weather report from the Corps of Engineers, where he works. I told him to keep a space for us at his house tomorrow! He also posted on Carsen's Facebook wall the "official" word from her friendly government official to heed the warnings. I know it is all I can do for Carsen. Hopefully she does like last time and just sleeps through the whole thing.
We have the official word that work and school are all shut down tomorrow. Thank goodness! I do have work to do, so I am hoping the Internet holds out.
The tide is on the way up and is almost where it was this morning with still two hours to go. Yikes.
Winds have picked up, and the cats are super glad to be in the garage in their cage. They are not even meowing anymore. I think I heard Hobbes tell Dino telepathically, "Don't screw this up, kid," as I loaded them in their cages. Dino will inevitably pull an idiot move and Hobbes usually covers for him, or saves him. It is funny to watch.
We are eating a meal taken from foods that won't last if we lose power, followed by a dessert of ALL the ice cream. Tomorrow we start the PBJ and Nutella diet. Can't. Wait.
If I don't crash, I will post about the tide.
Sunday 10:00 PM ET
High tide just passed and the water is up another foot above our regular high tide. That means three feet higher than our typical high tides. And only two feet from the top of the aluminum fence protecting the park on the other side of the canal. And two feet from the top of our dock. Luckily we have another 2 feet above that before we start flooding but I am getting worried.
Don and I took a look at it. We all took pictures and the kids went inside.
“If the water goes above the fence and floods the park by morning we are leaving,” I said.
“But…,” Don starts.
“No. If the water gets that high we are taking the kids to Tom and Cat’s house. “
“But we didn’t flood last time. All the water will go to the park.”
“Promise me if it comes over the fence we will leave.”
“OK. I promise.”
I heard from Carsen that she has “ALL the juice” ready for her diabetic emergencies. I pray that she got ice, too. And maybe some actual food. Hopefully she calls me back soon.
My cousin from California and my friend Al are checking it to see if we have left yet. I spoke to Tom and he just laughed and said, “See you in the morning!”
High tide in the morning is at 10:00 AM.
Monday 2:00 AM ET
The tide is still above the usual high tide level but it is supposed to be close to low tide. My friend George posted on Facebook about reports of flooding in communities to the east only 2 canals over. To our west I know the next canal over is flooded. Both of these canals flooded last time during the height of the storm and it sounds like the levels right now are about where they were then -- but we are still 24 hours away from the height of this storm.
It has definitely gotten colder and windier. They are saying the gusts are around 40 mph on the news. We still have power and we had to stop our Monopoly game after two hours so we could get some sleep.
Hopefully we will sleep and will have power in the morning.
Still dreading the 10 AM tide check.
Monday 6:45 AM ET
We still have power!
I woke up at 6:00 out of habit. It's still dark but from what I can tell the tide is still at the bottom of the sign even though high tide is not until 10 AM.
The wind is howling fairly consistently.
It looks like it has rained very little, though.
I see from some of my Facebook friends inland on the same canal as us, that they are flooding from water coming up from the sewers. This source is not reliable but this is not out of the realm of possibility. Our house is on the highest part of this peninsula so this makes sense.
Everyone is asleep but the cats and me. I turned on the dishwasher to block the creepy wind noises for us.
I spoke to Carsen late last night. She DID buy supplies and water as I asked her, and even checked to make sure she was not in a flood zone. She confessed that she was worried about the storm which actually made me feel better. She is taking it seriously!
There are a few extra people at her apartment, though, at least one who was evacuated from lower Manhattan, and they don't have enough water. We discussed tactics for storing water.
"Just fill every cup and bowl you guys have with water and leave it on the counter. If your roommates question you, tell them you are like the little girl from that movie Signs."
"I didn't see that. What did she do?"
"Ughh. She kept getting glasses of water and leaving them everywhere."
"Why? Now you have to tell me!"
"At the end it all comes together! It is so cool. The alien is going to kill her brother but the glasses of water were strategically placed by the little girl sort of by God."
"So I am placing these glasses strategically for aliens with God's help in case we are thirsty?" She doesn't say that but I know her enough to know what she is thinking.
"Never mind. Just put water in containers."
I know my daughter and her friends think I am nuts. This is not new.
She swears she will stay safe, though, so this made me happy. She lives in Bushwick with her fellow New School students, and I worry about her safety on a good day. I assure her we will come and get her if she needs us post storm and we discuss how to communicate should power go out. My fear creeps back in instantly when I realize there is no way for her to charge anything if her power goes out and they don't have a home phone. I make her write down my number on my mother's number in case her phone is down.
After the storm, I am setting up a home phone for them.
The sun is coming up so I am going outside to assess the situation.
10:30 AM ET
The water did not come over the aluminum fence at high tide but it was right at the top.
Here are the pictures:
9 AM tide level (look -- BIRDS!)
10 AM tide level (high tide for us)
The high tide was at the same point that we had at the peak of Irene. And we still have 24 hours to go.
The birds are back! Not very many and still flying in circles but they are here. We think the drowning worms in the park across the street were too good to pass up.
I am getting texts and emails from people to leave. We are discussing. Let me say, though, that not one of our neighbors has left. We are on the highest point of the peninsula, and the people here have never seen flooding. The fire chief lives down the street, and they don't seem to be going anywhere. And some people have been here 50 years.
I know this means nothing with this storm, though. The dilemma now is: Can we get out? There is flooding behind us and the wind damage to the north might be worse than what we have here (since we have no trees).
Here are some more pictures for my family:
The bend in the canal going out to sea.
The floating dock coming up out of the water -- the wrong way!
Part 2 of Monopoly waiting to be played when the kids wake up if we stay.
We are waking up the kids and deciding what to do next.
Monday 4:00 PM ET
I am second guessing the decision still but my gut told me that we should leave so talked about it and discussed worst case scenarios and decided that as responsible parents we needed to heed the warnings and take the flood threat seriously.
The eleven-foot tide they are talking about will conservatively put about 2 feet of water in our kitchen.
For being "ready" to go it still took an hour to get everything in the car and out the door.
There were whitecaps on the canal when we left. And the tide was coming up right to the middle of the words "Dead Slow" on the sign I had been using as a measure. And this was at a third of the way to what should have been low tide.
I am very grateful to have friends and family that texted me asking how we were and urging us to leave.
It is easier to make a decision when you have people backing you up.
The folks living around us stayed. All of them. Not one other family had left when we drove away. I felt like we betrayed our neighborhood.
The drive up North was quick, thankfully, because our cats decided to get carsick all over themselves in the carrier.
You know what a real friend is? The kind that when you show up at their house with four kids and a car full of stuff, the first thing you say is, "Dino and Hobbes pooed all over themselves. Can you help?"
And they say, "Yes." and then they help you bathe two cats. Seriously.
Dino and Hobbes are resting peacefully in the basement now. They smell fruity and are fed and poop-free.
It was so hard for Don to leave. He wanted to protect our home. He kept thinking that if we stayed there was a chance he could pump out the water or secure the boat should something happen. I think if we were kidless we would be there now. But when we played the tape through of the worst possible scenario we decided that having the kids witness water coming in the house or have any fear over that was not worth it.
The big problem here is trees. On the North Shore of Long Island there are forests. And Tom and Cat's house is in the middle of one. So far so good. Lights are flickering but we still have power. Parking the car was an issue because there is nowhere to park that is not under a tree. So crossing our fingers that we chose our tree wisely.
We plan on breaking out the giant puzzle as soon as they go out.
Monday 4:37 PM ET
We got word that power is out back at our house. I am so glad we left. Power is spotty here and probably will go out soon, but no power and a flood would have definitely put me over the edge.
Monday 5:00 PM ET
Wind gusts are so strong we are watching trees go down. This one just went down at the neighbors house and took out a smaller one in Tom's driveway. We are completely blocked in! Not going anywhere now!
The thuds as you hear the trees hit the ground are spooking the kids. They are happening fairly regularly so Tom and Don moved the TV to the basement for them to watch TV as long as we have power. And Cat and I are cooking ALL the pasta for when the inevitable power outage happens. Lights flicker every minute or so.
Monday 6:45 PM ET
This is Carsen. I just spoke to my Mom for the first time today. They have lost power and their phones are dying, so we won't be able to communicate for much longer. They are playing the board game out on Long Island, and trees keep coming down, every few minutes they can hear another one.
Things in Brooklyn are not bad yet, at all. I went for a walk around 3 pm today, looking to see if any place was still selling water(they weren't, but Papa Johns was still open). It's really only been raining pretty heavily all day but our neighborhood has yet to see any flooding. The wind has just started to pick up, and the lights flickered for a brief moment but that's the worst it's been. My roommates and I are still enjoying the brownies we made earlier, and they're mocking me because I took my mom's advice and filled all our pots with water.
The storm is not even supposed to hit land for another hour and fifteen minutes, and Brooklyn is supposed to be hit pretty hard. We're all confident in each other and that the city will take care of us. I still can't help but think of the kids that flooded my middle school in Dallas after Katrina with their horror stories. So far, so good though, so I hope we're spared like we were, in last year's Irene. Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.
I'll continue to post for my mom until we lose power.
Monday 8:25 PM ET
Mom, Don and the kids are still fine. Without power, but good. The lack of knowledge is killing my mom.
They're talking about cutting power off in Manhattan and Brooklyn, so we will definitely lose power, probably any minute now. The lights are flickering, the building is swaying and the sky is lit up with the bluest lightening we have ever seen. Everyone is still in high spirits and pretty excited in all actuality.
In Brooklyn, especially the center of Brooklyn where we are, it is probably one of the safer places, making it easy to be excited. But Manhattan's midtown started flooding earlier today. We have seen our friends and classmates' Facebook statuses and Instagram photos. In particular, 20th St and 1st Ave completely flooded, just five blocks from the New School freshman dorms. We're safe still but I also know that everyone around us has already seen flooding and trouble. The hurricane is just making land now.
My roommates are screaming from the other room because some people are on their roof across the way from us. I must go investigate. I'll try and keep updating.
Be smart, be safe.
Monday 10:45 PM ET
Everything in Brooklyn is still fine. In fact, we're still waiting for it to start it seems. The lights just started flickering a lot though, so I'll be quick before I lose internet.
My mom heard that our town, Seaford was underwater by 8. A friend who's house is on a street just a few blocks from ours was flooded and he lost everything. The chances our house too is underwater is high. I'm praying for the best, but am preparing to go out to Long Island and help clean up in the next week. This was not my childhood home, in fact I have never lived there, but it is where my younger brother and step-sisters have grown up. And it's where my Mom and Don are happy, where they have built their life together, so if it is ruined that is devastating for all of us.
My mom says she feels like she is in the middle of a war zone. I haven't heard from her in 30 to 45 minutes.
The wind is going crazy now, and like I said, I don't know how much longer we will have power. I'll try and keep everyone updated while I can.
Stay safe out there.
Monday 11:40 PM ET
Things are still the same here in Brooklyn. In fact, I called my father in Texas and he says it looks like most of the rain has moved further inland. Surprisingly, we still have power. The wind is still crazy, the apartment is swaying as we speak.
We have had some updates from friends and people watching the news for us. I know things are not bad in my area, but this storm is serious. We got news that the NYU hospital caught on fire, and we're pretty sure we can see smoke from our apartment.
And that lightening I posted about at 8:30? That was a power plant on 14th St and Ave C being hit by lightening and a transformer exploding. This happened right along the East River, 3 blocks from where I lived last year. That area has flooded, but thankfully it was under mandatory evacuation. We found video of it here. (Keep in mid this is video from across the river, in Brooklyn. I cannot image how terrifying this had to be up close.)
I have heard from my mom again, and they're fine. Just worried about our home. She said she was glad I was in Brooklyn, and I am too. I feel very safe and grateful right now.
This storm still has several more hours to go, and is very serious. Not to mention the aftermath, which will take hundreds of hours and billions of dollars to fix. If we're still in the middle of Sandy's path and this is the news coming out of it, then who knows what will come to light when it is all said and done.
Once again, stay smart, stay safe.
Tuesday 11:32 AM ET
Good Morning. Brooklyn is the same as it was yesterday. Just without the rain. We never lost power, which is a definite miracle. I think Bushwick is the only neighborhood in Brooklyn and Manhattan that never lost power. NYU hospital lost power, and their back up generator.
I have heard from Mom(and every other member of our family) this morning. They have packed up from Tom's and headed home. The middle of Long Island looked better than where they were. At Sunrise highway they got turned back, but somehow they still made it to our neighborhood. It was flooded. They heard that the house Don lived in before they moved caught on fire and burnt down. Luckily, luckily our house only has a little water in it. There will be photos to come later. It sounds like we really are lucky again.
The damage was intense though, especially public transportation. MTA is saying that this is the worst damage they have ever seen across the board, and the Subway system is 108 years old this week(Happy Birthday Subway, here, have a massive flood). I'm sure everyone has seen photos of the subway stations flooded as far north as 146th street. Here is a screenshot on facebook of the message MTA has released surveying early damages. They are predicting one to two weeks to get things up and running again. Which means I will be stranded in Brooklyn for a week, as will thousands of other people. Luckily, like I said, bodegas are already open and we have power and water, so this is not devastating.
As I hear more from Mom and she sends photos, I'll post them. Keep Manhattan and Long Island, as well as everyone else affected in your thoughts.
Tuesday 11:50 AM ET
I'm on the phone with Mom now. She says we are really, really lucky. They got back to the house. They have power, and the home phone is working. The floors are probably ruined, but the water is gone from the house. The dock is upside down, the pool is full of seawater and somehow the boat is still there(which is really impressive because our neighbors boat is three houses down, in someone's yard). The Park across the street flooded, all the way to the houses on the other side. The water came up to the wheel wells of cars, and our street was a river of sewer and sea water.
People have lived in that neighborhood for forty years and they have said this is the worst they have ever seen. That the neighborhood has never flooded before. Not even in Hurricane Gloria. Or Isabel. We were lucky. Very lucky.
Mom's asked me to keep updating for her, because they have too much to do. Her phone isn't holding a charge because every time she charges it, it dies within minutes from all the calls and texts. She will get online and post the photos and their account of what happened later today or tomorrow, but until then y'all are stuck with my second hand information.
Tuesday 1:02 PM ET
We are home. I can't put in to words what a ,miracle it is that this house is in such good shape. We drove through a war zone south of Merrick Road to get here. The house is good -- the water came in on the rear south side of the house. This is the only picture I took that shows water in the house. You can feel the wetness with your hand but that is the extent of it Thank God! The pool looks like it took the lion's share of the other flooding and may have saved the side to the north.
Our boat is still there.
The basketball hoop floated into the street where apparently there was a river of tide and storm surge last night.
Walter next door's boat is in the neighbors yard....
Everyone we know on the water flooded. Everyone. Our street for about a two block area are the only ones in our area that have power. I am not sure how since we can see the exposed lines in the sewers and they are underwater..... Not gonna question!
No word on if there is school tomorrow. Or work.
The kids are hearing from their friends slowly. Many of them flooded. Almost all are without power. I am sick to my stomach at what I am hearing from my neighbors and friends. There are some friends no one has heard from. We are going to do a recon trip in a bit.
Cell phone coverage is beyond bad. And helicopters are circling taking photos. So dumb me goes out to try to go higher to get a signal and a helicopter ends up coming over to me and circling thinking I am trying to signal them. Only me would do this. I felt like an idiot.
I have so many voice mails I can't hear and texts and Facebook messages I can't respond to. Thank you thank you thank you for all the prayers and concern! The outpouring of love is overwhelming. Friends and coworkers and family and strangers -- all of that love is appreciated and reciprocated!
More later. Just wanted to get these photos up.
Tuesday 3:23 PM ET
My mom urged me to keep posting, even though things in my area of Brooklyn have remained static the past 24 hours. I am currently struggling to write a five page paper in case I have class Thursday, but school was cancelled until Wednesday and my university is on 14th street, so it is most likely submerged at this point.
My roommates have all gone exploring today due to cabin fever and the further we get from our neighborhood, the more the damage is apparent. There are a lot of trees down south of us, and the closer you get to the water. Occasionally we will hear sirens.
We're slowly getting reports from our friends. A lot of people I know live in the Lower East Side, which got some of the worst flooding. Most everyone evacuated. But some people I know have basement apartments. Who knows if they will have anything to go back to. Some people are still without power, in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. I finally got in contact with some of my co-workers who are all without power still in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area. I still can't believe how lucky we were.
We all keep checking the news outlets to see the stories and damages reported. There were over 80 fires in Queens, which would explain why we all smelled fire and smoke this morning. My roommates and I are all pretty interested in the politics involved with this storm. The governor of New Jersey has already praised Obama's response, and in the same interview said he could care less about Romney's photo-op. It will be interesting to see how this will effect the election.
Back to listening to whiny white girl music and optimistically finishing this paper.
Tuesday 8:43 PM ET
After my last post I too started to go a little stir crazy (and also got news school has been cancelled until Monday, so screw that paper!) and decided to go for a walk. I walked the path I usually run along, east towards Manhattan. I found myself at the river, [photo 1, photo 2] which has receded and is back to relatively normal levels. From there the draw of Manhattan and the walk across the Williamsburg bridge was too strong to deny.
When I first crossed the bridge, it was still light out and so many people had been exploring in Brooklyn after being indoors for three days, it seemed the people in Manhattan were doing the same. I quickly realized that those on the Manhattan side of things were carrying around water, and a bit more frantic. And as the sun set, I realized that they were still without power. Of course I knew this, had heard this, but coming from Brooklyn where everything was fine it took me a second to realize.
I headed back towards the East River, cutting north up Columbia St, which turns into Ave D when you cross Houston. This put me smack in the middle of the Essex Street Housing Projects. I used to live a few blocks from here, so I am comfortable with the area, and know what it normally looks like. As it grew darker it became creepier, and creeper... apocalyptic even. There were people on the streets, but a fraction of what there usually was. And it was completely dark. No lights in houses, no street lights. The occasional taxi, or bus(which began running at 5 PM today, free of charge) and a pretty consistent stream of sirens and lights. The red and blue lights cast everything in an eerie glow.
What stores were open we're operating by candle light, and had lines out front(these people are obviously really happy I was taking there photo. Sorry, but you only Sandy once. YOSO). Cell service was spotty at best, it took me about an hour to get a message out to my roommates that I had crossed the bridge, and not to worry. People were walking around with flashlights, doing exactly what I was doing, and looking at the damage. There were branches down [photo 1, photo 2, photo 3] and at 14th St and Ave B the awning of a restaurant I had milk shakes at my first week in college had come completely down. Everywhere I was walking had been underwater yesterday.
My reason for cutting north, instead of south, was to see the power plant who's transformer exploded yesterday, at 12th and Ave D. It was heavily guarded by cops, and was well lit by their red and blue lights.
By then, it was dark, and much darker than usual because there were none of the street lights I have grown used to spotting the night, so I decided to catch a bus home. Or more like, a bus to the Williamsburg Bridge, so I could walk back across and then get on another bus the two miles to my apartment. I waited for the M14D Bus for thirty minutes before giving up and deciding to take the bus that follows second avenue south. It took me another 10 minutes to cross 1st Ave at 14th street, where there was no one directing traffic and two four lane roads intersect into chaos, without pedestrians added into the mix. I walked across 13th to 2nd Ave, where I found a few restaurants open, one of which had an open grill outside and was illuminated by a single lantern. People were laughing and having a good time, which was great to hear after the quietness of Alphabet City.
Crossing the bridge back was one of the oddest experiences of my life. The bridge was completely dark until the Brooklyn side, as was the city behind it. It was like walking out of a pit. As far as I could tell, all the other bridges were lit up. And as soon as I crossed the halfway mark, and back to the Brooklyn side of things the lights were back. It was like coming back to civilization. At this point my phone died and I was minutes from my second bus, and things in Brooklyn are so jarringly normal it was not worth documenting.(However when I got home, a friend from Sheepshead Bay area who is without power asked to come borrow our electricity for a few hours).
There are more photos in my flickr photostream. I'm going to go back in to Manhattan tomorrow and will take some real photos, not just iPhone pictures(as a photography major, I'm a little ashamed to even be posting them). And don't worry Mom, I'm being safe.
Tuesday 11:36 PM ET
I am so proud of Carsen for stepping up and posting to the blog with me. We used to do this Mother-Daughter journal when she was young and I had a wave of nostalgia just now writing her posts. We used to write one other questions in our journal and then answer them. They were questions like, “How can you tell a boy likes me?” (That would be a question from Carsen.) Or “What do you like best about school?” (That one would be from me.) Obviously our tag team writing has advanced significantly.
I spoke too soon about the water damage. It now appears that water came in to the back of the house and the garage and then seeped away. But it is still damp and work will need to be done. I am not complaining, though. We still think the fact that we even HAVE a house that was intact is a miracle.
We went and checked in on some friends. None had power. Most had downed trees. Power lines litter the roads. Some had lost everything. Neighboring towns Wantagh and Massapequa are dark holes with no electric. Gas stations with power had no gas by dark, and when it was to be had the lines went down the block. School and work are cancelled for tomorrow again.
But Long Islanders are resilient. Neighbors helped each other out. Extension chords run across the street for neighbor to help neighbors without power. Friends with pumps and chainsaws loaned them out. Our neighbor Walter got his boat out of the yard with the help of some neighbors – only to have this happen.
Low tide this afternoon was back down to what is normally our high tide level. High tide tonight was still ridiculously high (to the bottom of the No Wake sign), but not at flood levels. I would like to think that we are getting back to normal but I look around and realize that this cleanup will take months.
I was so overwhelmed at the enormity of the last few days that it took me an hour today to make the kids their lunch. I kept getting distracted by, well, EVERYTHING, that I would find myself upstairs checking on some windows and then realize I had half made sandwiches in the kitchen, and then I would head down to spread peanut butter and find myself outside taking pictures. If it was not for the kids reminding me that I had not finished they would still be waiting!
Dinner was easier. Cat and Tom made it down here so share our power and Internet and warm water. We had other friends come by for a quick get together. Tonight I am hoping I can finally sleep and that tomorrow will start to feel normal.
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