I’ve had a blizzard of inquiries about how I fared in the big storm, so I thought I’d post here. Actually, Hurricane Sandy was, for me, mostly an inconvenience.
The week before the storm, my wife Jan found out she needed to travel to Texas to help our daughter while she had some surgery, watching after her and our grand-daughters for several days. She was scheduled to leave on Tuesday, the day the storm was due to be in it’s terrible fury. As we watched Sandy develop and make a bee-line for this area, we switched her flight to the Saturday before. After she left, I came home and battened down the hatches for a big blow.
I lost power Monday night, as the storm blew in and all the initial flooding started along the coast of New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Connecticut. Because my home is equipped with natural gas, I had hot water and a functional stove so I could shower and cook, at least until the food in the refrigerator went bad on Thursday. By then, the number of people searching for gasoline had blossomed into the millions, as they were struggling to find gas for their cars and generators. Fortunately, I had filled my car up on Saturday, so I could run around to find grocery stores with the staples on the shelves. During the day, I went over to a friend’s house (equipped with a generator) and took care of all the VO business, plus tried to stay current on email and news. There was no way to get into Manhattan, so other than getting pretty cold at night (40ºF), I managed at home quite well through the entire week, although I must admit to getting quite bored. I re-read three Clive Cussler novels and a book by conservative political pundit, Ann Coulter, by the light of a battery powered camping lantern.
Saturday morning under the shower nozzle, as I was contemplating a trip to Starbucks and possibly to a gas station to wait in line for several hours, my power blinked on. After a loud whoop, I finished up my shower, got dressed and started running around the house fixing clocks, running the garbage disposal, resetting the modem and making sure everything was working the way it was supposed to. Then I sat down and started watching television and seeing some of the unbelievable devastation wrought on the tri-state area. Blocks and blocks of homes were flooded out in Queens, right up to the rooftops, entire neighborhoods in Staten Island just wiped off the planet, blocks and blocks of other homes destroyed by fire, hundreds of thousands of people dispossessed of everything, scrambling to find enough food to just stay alive, and roving gangs of teenagers ransacking and looting. The media called them “wolf packs.” I think they insulted wolves with that description. At least wolves only kill to eat.
Z100 managed to stay on the air through everything. They have some massive diesel powered generators that can keep the lights on in the on-air studios, but cannot light up the rest of the plant. So, when Co-Ed killed all power below Times Square Monday night to preserve generating capacity from the salt water flooding, we continued to broadcast, but the offices stayed closed all week.The on-air staff stayed in the hotel across the street, without power OR hot water, so big kudos to all of them. Power was finally restored Saturday evening.
The next Monday, with the offices open, I was duty bound to get in and get busy, but sadly, it was not to be. My primary means of transportation into the city, once I park in Jersey City, is the PATH train system, but they are still out of service as the tubes that run under the Hudson River from Jersey City to the World Trade Center were all completely flooded. It’s my understanding that they’ve been mostly pumped out, but now there are switching and signaling issues which must be ironed out before they can start running again. The ferry service was running a full schedule (except from one dock near the Statue of Liberty which was obliterated). After making sure my parking garage was open, I hopped in the car and headed down to Jersey City. I hit a couple of detours, but actually made pretty good time. After parking I went and joined the line for the ferry. The line to purchase tickets was 3-HOURS long! Then…once you purchased your ticket, the line to board was TWO-hours long. I gave up and went back home.
That afternoon I found an app that allows me to purchase ferry tickets in advance, so armed with that and an early start (the first ferry leaves at 6am), I managed to get on board with no hassles at all, but once in Manhattan, I had to walk a little over 1.5 miles to get to the station because the subways were still out of service. They were back online a day later and now, my commute is almost back to normal. The PATH service to World Trade is still down with switching issues, so I’m still riding the ferry across the river. It’s actually a very pleasant way to commute, but it costs 3 times as much, so I’ll be very happy to see the PATH get online again.
Was Sandy a pain in the butt? Absolutely! But I am SO grateful that’s all it was. There are STILL hundreds of thousands of people without power, and tens of thousands without homes or food. FEMA is a total joke…so it wasn’t all President Bush’s fault in New Orleans. It’s just an amazingly inept Federal agency that doesn’t know its butt from a hole in the ground. If you’re ever in need of assistance, pray it won’t be FEMA. I really don’t want this blog to be in the least bit political, so please don’t think I’m being harsh on the current administration. It’s just the nature of any Federal Agency in my view. Always too many self-important idiots in charge for it to be any other way. While there are exceptions, I’m sure, and there is a certain amount of laudable civic-mindedness about serving in the government, agencies are not ever worried about the bottom line because it’s not their money they’re spending. This kind of culture leads to waste and inefficiencies that would never be tolerated in the private sector.
For me, the trauma (such as it was) is mostly done. My wife is home and together we’ve re-stocked the pantry and life is starting to resemble what it was before. We DO have an appointment with an electrician friend to discuss the possibilities of a serious generator. If you’re one to pray, a few words for the thousands who are still suffering would certainly be in order. A big thank you to all who were genuinely concerned.