There are no trees in our house. This may seem a mild, self-evident statement, like saying there is no life on Mars, but it isn’t. Monday night a hundred-year-old sycamore uprooted itself and crushed the roof of a house four doors down from ours, letting Hurricane Sandy inside for as long as it wanted to stay. Today an early morning coffee run took me past dozens of felled trees, many still draped with power lines, some creasing the rooflines of houses less fortunate than ours.
Hurricane Sandy was the opposite of last year’s Irene. With Irene, the damage was mostly inland, with widespread destruction and more rain dropped on the area than it could handle. With Irene, by four o’clock in the morning, my wife and I had already been in our basement for hours, bailing the water that was coming in as fast as we could get it out. We bailed all day and eventually called it a draw. Our neighbors across the street weren’t so lucky. Their houses sit only a foot or so lower than ours, down an almost imperceptible slope, but it was enough that on their side of the street, the sewer lines backed up, flushing raw sewage up through basement toilets and shower drains faster than any pumps could clear it. But that was last year’s Irene. This year we had Sandy, and Sandy was finished by 4 AM, exhausted, its fury spent on the coast.
Sharon filled our car with gas Tuesday, the day after Sandy hit. She also filled a five-gallon container for our generator. She did it casually, taking with her a child who wanted to get out of the house. The lines for gas hadn’t started yet. Two days later, when I went out to fill our empty containers, if took me six hours: One hour to find a working gas station, two hours of waiting in line, then three hours to get back home because the full gas cans in the back of my minivan made me drive funny.
We’ve been without power for seven days now, but I won’t complain. We have a generator that I run during the day to keep the fridge cool and then I drink the beer at night so it doesn’t spoil. Sharon left the country on Day 4, taking one of the first flights out of JFK on a planned business trip to the United Arab Emirates. Again, I won’t complain. She has a job, something a lot of people in my state are without right now. Two days ago, on Day 5, Victoria, the tiniest of the twins, was diagnosed with strep throat, puny and feverish, and now the rest of the family has taken to wearing her inside our clothes for warmth. I slept next to her two nights ago and it was the first decent night of sleep I’d had since the heat shut off. I asked her if she wanted to sleep with me again last night and she politely declined, explaining that I smell bad and my butt makes unpleasant noises when I sleep.
For us, it's a waiting game. Will we get power today? Maybe, maybe not. There are no crews working that I can tell, but the only thing we lack is power. We have heat when the generator runs, and our area is flush with food and supplies, though gas is hard to come by. This morning I waited in a polite line for about an hour to fill two 5-gallon containers and at one point, the guy behind me asked if I thought the people in Mad Max acted this orderly before the stations were taken over by warlords. He was smiling when he asked it, but something in his eyes made me let him go in front of me. I hope he remembers the favor when he shaves his head into a mohawk and puts on his feathered football pads.
The amazing people behind CoolMomPicks put together a list of charities and organizations doing amazing work in the area right now, and let me tell you, there is amazing work needed to be done here. I hope you'll click on the link and let your wallet and/or muscles provide the aid that your mouth says it wants to. Before one of my daughters gets cast as "feral kid #2."