Friday, November 02, 2012

About My Absence 

We have been living in a house with no power and no heat since last Monday night, and we are lucky.  Undoubtedly you have seen pictures of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy that ripped the New Jersey shore.  Where we live the damage was from wind but that was enough.  On every block there are downed trees, dangling wires, snapped power poles.  Our power went out at 6:30p just when the winds were rising to hurricane force.  There were a series of flashes from a nearby utility pole then darkness.  We were expecting it and had candles and flashlights at the ready.  It will take several days more before the lights blink on again.  

The frightening part of the storm was not howling because there was none of that.  It was a roar like a distant jet on a taxiway waiting for take-off.  That roar would build now and again as if the jet was rolling down the runway then moments later a rush of air would blast the trees, twist them, bend them, set them swaying madly.  After dark, we could hear the roar but not see the trees.  We heard snapping and falling from the large oak in the back of the house but could not tell what had been hit.  (It wasn't a house.)  Tuesday dawned gray and nearly still by comparison to the night before.  We surveyed the damage as did all the neighbors.  For some, it was soul-crushing.  Others had scattered limbs in their yards that they hauled to the street throughout the day.  We had two large limbs, eight inches in diameter, plunge to the ground and just miss anything crucial.

The governor and the President have toured the destruction along the shore.  We are on the lookout for utility trucks.  One came through on Wednesday to survey the damage but we haven't seen anyone from the power company since.  No one is complaining.  The anger is over gasoline.  Since most of northern New Jersey is without power, the gas stations can't pump what is in their tanks.  This morning at 6 am there were already half-mile to mile-long lines at the few stations that have electricity and police to control the crowds.  It's not just autos that are dry. Householders with portable generators are scouring for gasoline as well and not finding it.  Neighbors took to siphoning gas from their car to keep their generator going.  The gasoline crisis would be resolved if there were power and transportation, but the train lines are down with no announcement as to when they will be up again.  Bus service has resumed but there is no way busses can transport everyone to New York.  The mayor also imposed a three-rider rule on the working bridges and tunnels because the streets had become impossibly jammed by Wednesday.  

A neighbor who has a nearly full tank in his car decided to drive in this morning.  Two of us joined him and we left in the moonlit blackness at 5:27am.  The drive in was quick and uneventful once we had threaded the streets to get out of our town.  The 15-block walk to the office was refreshing.  I'm writing this in a warm room with lights(!).  Tonight we will wind our way back to the darkness of our homes, bundle again against the chill and wait out the weekend.  Monday, who knows?  Our neighbor isn't going to drive in again because he can't spare the gas.  We will chance the bus.


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