Wednesday, November 14, 2012

3659 Sandy - the first week

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution,
no law, no court can even do much to help it.
While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."
-- Billings Learned Hand --


Continuation - More from my paper notes after the hurricane:

Tues, 10/30

1:30 pm - 68 degree F in the house.  There's a feisty little garter snake in the back yard.  He seems very frightened.  Usually the garter snakes slither away when approached.  This guy coiled and struck repeatedly.  Poor guy's probably lost, disoriented, and cold.

We have many squirrels here.  I haven't seen any yet since the storm.  There are no birds, either.  Except for generators, it's very quiet.

Wed, 10/31

Guy across the street is related to someone in the state police.  A police car pulled up and delivered a large very heavy box.  Generator?  They cut the nylon straps off the box and left them lying in the street.  That pissed me off.

No mail delivery since Saturday.  I'm worried about my checks.

A neighbor came to my door.  She said a water dept person said to spread the word that water was going to be shut off, so we should store water.  Daughter split the street with her and went door to door.  I stored water in multiple containers and in plastic-lined cardboard boxes in the bathtub.  About three hours later I got a "Code Red" cell call from the township saying it's a false rumor, please stop calling the township and police department about it, the water is fine.  I asked Daughter if she was now going to go back to all those doors and tell them it's ok.  She snarled at me.

George says the local big chain grocery store is open - sort of.  Hercules and I went. Surreal experience.  Lights maybe one per aisle.  Dark.  Empty shelves.  They had a full dairy section, though.  I tried to buy yogurt and eggs, and they chased me away from the shelves.  They were pulling everything from that section, including wrapped blocks of cheese, and throwing it in dumpsters.  Pissed me off some more.  Unbroken free-range eggs do not need refrigeration, and you can be even surer by cooking the yolks solid.  I mean hey, farm eggs often sit under a hot hen for a few days before they're collected.  And unopened yogurt with live culture and no fruit or sugar added doesn't need refrigeration, either.  Throwing it all out is a terrible waste, when lots of folks have no food.

Here's something that drove me crazy, another complete waste ---

First you have to understand NJ roads.  Four-lane roads are almost always divided and don't allow left turns off them, only rights. There are openings in the dividers only at larger crossing roads.  That means that if where you're going is on the left side of the road or you'd like to turn left at one of those intersections, you have to pass it and keep going until you get to a "jug handle" on the right, where you can curl around, kind of like one quarter of a mini-cloverleaf.  This means that although the store you want to go to is practically across the street, you will have to drive sometimes several miles to get to it, and then several miles the other direction to get back from it.

The grocery store (also my bank and a few other stores) is on the corner across from where the only remaining way out of our neighborhood dumps on to a divided 4-lane.  It's less than a mile from my house.  I've walked to it.  Normally, I just cross the 4-lane road and turn left off the side road into the strip mall.  Hercules and I were shocked to find orange cones across the intersection.  Traffic lights were out, so the police had made the entire road divided all the way north and south!   To get across the intersection, we had to turn right and drive north until we came to a street where we could go under the 4-lane.  Then to get back home from the store, we had to go south until we got to a place with an overpass over the 4-lane.  The trip, normally about two miles, came to 8.5 miles.

The complete waste?  1.)  There were no gas stations open, and people were desperate for gas for generators, so hey, let's make them waste gas!  2.)  At every impassible intersection there were a minimum of two police cars, usually three, with the cops sitting there making sure no one tried to go through the cones.  Uh, I understand that the traffic lights were out.  I don't understand why the cops weren't simply directing traffic.  I mean, there were at least two of them there anyway.  Don't they teach traffic directing in cop school any more?  Heck, it's more fun to waste gas, I guess.  And it's not like it's dangerous - the school crossing guards could show them how.

That absolutely thoroughly freakin' pissed me off to the point of screaming.

The neighborhood kids are sad.  Hallowe'en has been postponed to next Monday, by order of the Governor.   He's a bit optimistic, methinks.

Thurs, 11/1

Quarterly real estate taxes are due today.  I went to the township building with my check and stub, undated because I wasn't sure the office was open.  It was, and the clerk was shocked that I was there to pay my taxes.  Apparently, no one else did.

61 degrees F in the house today at 2 pm. I LOVE my bed.  With the good comforter on it, I'm warm as toast at night.  During the day I'm wearing warm snow boots and multiple layers, and a hat, and I'm still cold.  I've discovered that a hot bath will actually keep me warm for a few hours after.  The worst part is getting dressed in the morning, climbing out of a warm bed to mid-50s, and putting on cold clothes.  I've been going to bed at 8 or 8:30 pm, when the house starts to cool down, and then reading by candlelight.  (I put a fire extinguisher next to the bed.)

The parkway is open, so Hercules was able to get to work today.  He's is in the IT department of a utility holding company.  He spent most of the day on the phone lining up hotel rooms for the thousands of visiting utility workers arriving from all over the US and Canada.

Today is garbage collection day (Monday and Thursday).  People hopefully put their garbage out.  It was not picked up.

Today was the first sunny day since Sunday.

Fri, 11/2

Windy today.  Temperature outside dropping.  The garbage trucks came by, but of course everyone had taken the garbage back in.  Sigh.

House is still getting into low 60s during the day.  I am pleased that the house seems to stay about 20 degrees above the outside temps.  Daughter and Hercules have the small generator on a few hours every day, and they have an old furnace in the basement used by the previous owner to heat just the basement that doesn't depend on electric start.  They're using that, and it's been keeping their house in the higher 60s and low 70s.  Daughter wants me to come over to their house "to get warm", and to sleep there, but I have horribly insulted her by refusing.  I'm cold, but fine.  And I know that we can't spend much time in each other's company before she starts "reading negative into" everything I say or don't say, and getting bitchy.  So, thanks, but I'm ok.

The Nugget has been on antibiotics and decongestants since before the storm, when she was diagnosed with a head cold, croup, and 2 infected ears.  She'd been doing fine, but late today she suddenly spiked a 102 fever, and was very lethargic.  The lethargy worried me more than the fever.  Worse, the antibiotic would run out tomorrow.   Pediatrician's office gets no answer. 

Sat, 11/3

The original township estimate was that we would get power today.  Most business along the highway have full or partial power.  Some residential neighborhoods are back up. 

Daughter called pediatrician, and they were open!  But, they're in triage mode.  Nugget isn't at death's door, so they just called in a refill on the meds.    Nugget seems to be feeling better anyway.

I saw the first squirrel today.  I am pleased that he's the young one who caches in my lawn.  I figured he was hungry, so I threw him some peanuts.  No other squirrels showed up, so I suspect he's the only returnee.  I wonder where he was.  Seems like if he was just sheltered under a shed or something, he'd have been back sooner.

Still no birds.  That's beginning to feel weird.

Mail delivery today.  Still no checks.

Sun, 11/4

Some birds are back!  Daughter's bluejays, both the male and the female.  George has a pair of cardinals who nest in his eaves and like to sit in his birch - the female was in the birch this morning.  Haven't seen the male yet.  The robin who nests in a branch over my driveway is back, the female, anyway.  Still none of the noisily cheerful little birds yet.

Temp will go below freezing tonight.

All the residential neighborhoods around us have power.  We still don't.  Something about a substation destroyed or something. We feel neglected.  Seeing the lights of others makes us feel even colder.

Food - I've been eating yogurt, cheese, eggs, oatmeal, grits, those no-refrigeration vacuum-sealed dinners (they're supposed to be heated in a microwave, but do just fine in a pot on the stove), canned veggies, stews, soups, peanuts, cookies, and lots of fruit.  On Wednesday's excursion to the grocery store I found no-refrig bacon.  Expensive, but actually quite good.

I drove down some of the streets along our waterfront, past where the sea wall ends.  It's so sad to see house after house with all of the family's possessions piled on the curb.  Furniture, bags of clothing, toys,  appliances, chunks of soggy drywall, mattresses, books, photo albums, carpets, all of it.  Back in 1999 when my house burst a pipe and flooded, I was able to save almost everything that wasn't cloth or paper.  But my stuff just sat in a foot of clean water (well, clean until the mold started).  This stuff had been literally battered back and forth in several feet of filthy water.  Big difference. I appreciate our sea wall even more. be continued.

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