Before (the proverbial calm):
On Sunday the sky got dark. We took the warnings seriously and we prepared for the worst: moved all backyard furnishings into the garage, sand bagged the back of the house, stocked up on candles and water, taped up our 1940s-era picture window, stuffed our pockets with batteries, took one last hot shower, got out the potato chips and champagne, and watched the mounting fury.
Evacuation quarters for the backyard cats (in the garage).
The thing about hurricanes is that when they are moving into your front yard (Sandy, being a particularly slow-moving storm, took all damn day to blow into town), they tend to be the sole focus of attention. All we could do was sit and watch, and and listen: what I thought was the sound of gunshots turned out to be trees splitting in half. Power went out at 6:06 Monday night and it stayed dark for the next six days, seventeen hours, and 53 minutes. I tried to take pix of the wind-tossed trees that we were watching through the livingroom windows but snapshots do not do justice to hurricanes. Also, I kept an hourly diary of the Coming of Sandy, but after spending a week in the dark and the cold I have no idea where those notes are and I’m too fed up with all this hurricane misery to bother looking for them.
After (one block radius from my house):
Three houses down from us, this place was the girlhood home of my 86-year old neighbor Ruth until she died in 2010, when new owners gutted it (Ruth was a hoarder) and did a total reno.
This is the picturesque ruin on the corner that the town has been unwilling to condemn out of sympathy for the old bachelor who lives there, but this might be the final straw.
Our only damage was a downed rhododendron on the patio:
Yes, that’s Candy on the roof of the shed, inspecting her domaine.
But Top Cat and our darling neighbor Gary righted the old girl (the rhody, not Candy) and propped her up with boards and we hope she’ll pull through:
On Wednesday night we had a jolly candlelight barbecue with the neighbors, grilling all the turkey burgers and chicken bits from our freezer. The next night the neighbors had us over for an equally celebratory “Empty the Freezer” BBQ (hamburgers and Italian sausages). On Friday we got a rare half-hour of SUNSHINE so I walked a half mile up the road to get a good look at this:
This mess of fallen trees bringing down this tangle of power lines was rumored to be the cause of our blackout. The house behind all this crap has been on the market for over a year (priced to sell at $988,000) and gossip has it that the homeowners are heartbroken that the trees didn’t take it out (it is a brutally “modern” 1970s-era eyesore that is quite the out of place in this neighborhood).
This is what it looks like when the front yard is not cluttered with hurricane debris:
Let me tell you, a hurricane party gets a lot less fun after five days. So when we heard that Governor Christie had declared Atlantic City OPEN FOR BUSINESS on Saturday, we took our business right down to the Jersey Shore for lights, heat, and HOT WATER!!!
I heard a choir of angels when I laid eyes on this hotel bathroom.
First change of clothes, first shower in five days. First good night’s sleep in six. All that, and Chinese food too!
Next order of business was to check out the boardwalk, which I feared had been devastated. I prepared for the worst, but the good news is that the boardwalk looked 100% fine, and the GREAT NEWS is that through the heroic efforts of Alley Cat Allies of Atlantic City the boardwalk citizens looked FABULOUS! (I know you know who I’m talking about.)
I had brought water for the colony, which this guy is politely drinking, but I can assure you that there was plenty of water, food, and fresh straw bedding in the igloos under the boardwalk…
…and the colony is safe. Whew.
After a glorious 30 hours in Atlantic City it was time to return to our own colony, where it was still pitch black, ice cold, and Chinese-food free. It was so cold that I slept in my clothes, and then got up the next morning and put more clothes on top of the ones I’d slept in to prepare for the worst part of Hurricane Sandy: the cleaning of the one-week non-functional fridge.
I had just hosed bits of rancid cream cheese off the last shelf when I saw the refrigerator light go on…
All that is left are reminders of what it was like to be young and single.
…and I knew that my hurricane was over.
Thank you, one and all, dear friends and readers, for your emails and your concern. Compared to the ongoing misery of so many people in our area, Top Cat and I have much to be grateful for, and much work to do in lending a hand in the clean up and the recovery.