03 November 2012

Sandy

This has been like one very long strange day that started last Saturday when everything was completely normal. Everyone is safe, but some of my friends' homes sustained a lot of damage on the south shore of Long Island. But like I said, it feels like a very long never ending day in a surreal alternate reality. And we didn't even have it that bad.

Last Saturday I was hanging out at home watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix (I blame Juli for this insane addiction) when my mom called me to remind me to get to the grocery store because of Hurricane Sandy. I kind of rolled my eyes but I went to the market anyway to get some cans of soup and crackers and things. Dropped off the groceries and met my friend Jade in Manhattan for some shopping. Another friend messaged us to say he was watching the Penn State football game at a bar on the east side so Jade tore me away from the See by Chloe shoes I was drooling on at Century 21 and we headed over. It was a great time drinking ciders and hanging out in a room of shouting Penn State fans. I left early to meet Rich for a date in Queens and didn't think about the hurricane at all.

Getting ready to go out. Rob getting really excited about the game.

On Sunday morning Rich and I were watching my favorite weekend show, CBS Sunday Morning when there was breaking news about the impending storm. Its important to understand that around here, hurricanes mean drinking and hanging out in the dark and we don't take it as seriously as we probably should. As the newscaster described the storm, I worried that by going to work I would end up stuck in Manhattan if the subways were shut down. A short few minutes later, the governor announced that the subways were shutting down Sunday evening leaving me with no way to get in to work. I decided to go home to my mom's house, worrying about being stuck inside the city with no way out. I packed a bag and went back to Long Island with Rich. My mom and I spent the rest of the day just hanging out with some cousins, running little errands and not worrying. It wasn't even raining. I even took some outfit photos with the flood warning sirens going off in the distance. Technically, we were all supposed to evacuate but like I said, we don't usually worry about it around here.

Hurricane snacks: pumpkin scones and pancakes with wine and honey, delicata squash with chili-honey sauce and chicken, popcorn, homemade pizza
My office was closed on Monday and it was like being a little kid on a snow day. My mom and I made pumpkin scones and hung out inside drinking tea and watching tv shows. The wind was getting scary, so we collected some candles and flashlights, filling water bottles and prepping things we'd need if the power went down. It started to rain a little and I found out that some friends were leaving their houses for higher ground. At about 8 we lost power which meant both lights and heat. Shortly after there was no cell phone service. The only sound outside was the wind and sirens on emergency vehicles. I lit a bunch of candles and read my beat up old copy of Pride and Prejudice until I fell asleep under a pile of blankets.

Candlelight wine drinking.

Tuesday morning the wind was still bad and there was no power. In the afternoon my mom and I took a nerve-wracking drive to check on my grandparents once it seemed safe enough. Without stop lights people were driving too fast and with nothing to stop them. My grandparents had power and the flooding didn't come into their house. On the way to our house more trees and power lines had come down. A lot of our food had to go into the trash after hours of being unrefrigerated. We brought food over to my grandparents place later in the evening and were able to heat it up and charge our mostly useless phones. There were rumors of looting going around and my mom wanted to be at the house so it didn't look abandoned. Before dark Rich came over and gave us a hand in starting a fire, he even reminded us that we could use our gas stove to heat food and water by using a match. We sat in front of the fire with candles, listening to the radio until falling asleep.

More wine, in front of the fire.

Wednesday morning I heard some of my co-workers were heading in to work. My cell service was still not really working and there were no trains so I stayed where I was. The sun was out intermittently and the wind had finally died down so my mom and I cleaned up our yard. There wasn't any damage, just branches down and a lot of things were blown around, including the grill which flew off of our deck and took the railing with it. With nothing else to do we planted our garlic and raked and enjoyed the few minutes of warm sunshine we had. We collected more wood and stoked the fire while there was daylight. Luckily our freezer was staying pretty cold so we just ate everything we had that was rapidly defrosting. It was also, weirdly, Halloween. There were a very few kids with their parents out trick or treating. By this time I had no clean clothes left and it was really really cold so we closed up all the doors and poured some wine and stayed close to the fire.

Yard cleanup.

Sometime late Wednesday night we got the power back. There was the loud noise the heater made when it started back up and all the lights flicked back on in an instant. Both my mom and I had been asleep in front of the fire and it woke us up. After cleaning up the candles we went to watch the news to see what we were hearing on the radio. I felt kind of weird not listening to or watching the news but I watched a few episodes of Parks and Rec. Like I said, it was weird because it was like nothing bad was happening and I thought about how lucky I was.

Just before the power went back on.

I'd planned to go to Long Island for the weekend because I had a doctors appointment and a birthday party. I had a feeling my Saturday doctors appointment would be cancelled so it was surprising that when I called on Thursday that they were open and said I should just head over. The roads were a little crazy, no street lights still and gas lines forming at the few gas stations with power and the others sitting empty and dark. Afterwards I decided that I needed to go to my apartment in Queens to see how is was. It was pretty much insane. Everyone was driving recklessly and fast everywhere we went. People trying to get to work or to get gas, yelling out their windows and honking their horns. We made it to my place where everything was fine, but I was able to get clean clothes. I thought about staying there, but I didn't want to get stuck there with no way out and the subways down. On the way home we saw gas lines that were miles and miles long, stretching around corners and across intersections. At one point we got into a jam where a gas station closed because they were out of gas and all the people in line were whipping into traffic and causing minor crashes and getting out and fighting with one another. I just went home and stayed there calling friends to make sure they were ok. Rich didn't have power and LK's house was flooded and her room destroyed. My mom didn't want me driving so I had to stay where I was.

On Friday I collected every single thing I could find that was fit to donate to the people in the Rockaways and Brooklyn and the South Shore. Sweaters, sheets, blankets, winter coats, shoes and more. I've even donated cameras to help document the damage. It was so horrible to think that people have lost everything and its getting colder and colder every day.

If you know me/where I live in either Queens or Long Island please bring any donations and I will be sure to distribute them.
My mom and her friends who are teachers are making sure donations go directly to families of their students in need.
My apartment building is collecting items to donate directly to our neighbors in the Rockaways.
You can also make a donation of canned goods and clothes/blankets to bring directly to the families of Long Beach here: 57 East Sunrise Highway Freeport, NY 11520.


Here is a list of places you can help by either donating items or money:
Food Bank NYC
Visit any of the sites listed here to help*: Time Out NY Ways to Help After Sandy
*Please note that many New Yorkers are NOT donating to the American Red Cross but rather other charities that will filter donations more directly to areas in need.

I'm fine. In my house with heat and power and internet. But so many people are not as lucky. The flood water became toxic with heating gas and oil so many homes that weren't destroyed are uninhabitable, trees and power lines are still lining the streets. There are gas lines miles long with people waiting for hours on end trying to fill up their tanks for cars and generators. Its very frustrating that I can't do more so I'm imploring my wonderful, generous, friendly readers to please donate blood or money or anything they can spare.

18 comments

  1. Love how charitable you are. So nice to see you lend a helping hand by donating stuff to those in need. Glad you survived Sandy alright. By the way, I've also got an addiction to the Vampire Diaries. The show is so absolutely ridiculous that it's good.

    Mom Fitness Journal | Girlie Blog Seattle

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  2. I'm really glad you made this post. I hadn't really gotten a feel for what it was like to be there during the hurricane, and during the aftermath, and I'm actually surprised at how intense it sounds. I'm really glad you're safe, and it's amazing that you're donating so many things for people who need it. I hope things start to get sorted out quickly over there, and my thoughts are with you and everyone who was affected by the hurricane. xx

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  3. Thanks for posting your firsthand experience. We expected to get it worse here in Virginia. It's hard to take in how much life can change over night. - Leah

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  4. I know what you mean about the hurricanes. I was in New York for one and the beach was "closed". That was it. We were there for some reason, though. During Irene, my friends had FB updates like "Four bottles of wine and Scattegories!" Sandy was so different, though. Every time I look at pictures I tear up. Queens and Staten Island look like war zones. I'm so glad you're ok and were able to be with your family.

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  5. So glad to hear you're OK. Here in Australia we had pretty constant news coverage of the event (you would've thought it was coming to our shores if the coverage was anything to go by). The pictures that came through were just insane. Do you have any tips for which charities to donate to?

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  6. Sure do! Please note that most New Yorkers are donating directly to NY based charities ie not the Red Cross but places like United Way NY and NYC Food Bank.
    http://www.timeout.com/newyork/own-this-city-blog/how-to-help-in-new-york-city-after-hurricane-sandy

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  7. so glad you and your loved ones are safe, and proud that you are doing everything you can to help others.

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  8. I was thinking of you during Sandy. I just got back online but got power back Saturday night, myself. I am glad to hear that you guys are okay. It really was very bad for many people there. We had a tree hit our house and this morning my husband went in the attic and saw that there is a hole in the roof. Oh well. I hope many people are willing to help out. We are planning on going to South Jersey to help clean up in the next couple of weeks.

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  9. maybe not everything, but trying to help however I can!

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  10. Wow, sounds so scary! Glad you and your family are ok. My thoughts are with you!

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  11. Glad to see the update and hear that you and your family are ok. I'd like to add that a lot of companies have charity matching programs, which would be great to utilize for anyone wanting to make a monetary donation.

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  12. I was thinking of you too! I am so happy that your family is safe despite a tree falling on your house.

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  13. True story! My company pledged $1 million and is giving us flexible work schedules to volunteer and help our neighbors out.

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  14. Emily_RubySlippersNovember 8, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    I was thinking of you when I opened the papers on whatever morning it was and saw New York all flooded. That's terrible about your friends homes; that would be so hard to recover from.


    Otherwise, it kind of sounds like you lived it up hurricane-style. I'm definitely liking all the wine and pastries.


    And let's not forget poor Haiti and Cuba!

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  15. Sounds so strange and scary. I grew up in the country and in one of the only areas of australia that gets snow, so I remember that feeling of good or bad weather having such an influence on your life. I've lived in sydney six years now and there's just something weird about being in a big city that makes you think nothing bad could happen... but the problem is, when something does happen it affects SO many people who are often far less prepared than people in rural areas are.

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  16. Glad to hear you're okay, lady - was definitely thinking of you during the storm <3

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