The Wrath of Hurricane Sandy

– updated following a writing prompt from my friend John.

Personally, I could have used a little more rain and a little less wind.  Hurricane Sandy, how you doin’?  We interrupt coverage of endurance sports for musings on current events.

There’s a rock n roll lyric for every occasion, and today it’s Tom Petty: “Don’t wanna live like a refugee.”  Cue the guitar part.

I never thought I’d be one of these Web 2.0 types sitting in a coffee shop, pecking away at my laptop.  But actually, I’m standing and I count myself fortunate to find a place to stand and plug in my computer and phone.  Information starvation is as bad as lack of power.

I’ve been out in some nasty weather.  At first I dismissed the forecasts of 90-mph winds, but in the middle of the night, listening to the maelstrom and watching my neighbor’s 70-foot Norway spruce sway to and fro, I believed it.  Hurricane Sandy tore shingles off my roof, and I can see the sky from inside my attic.

We’ve had no electricity for four days and I don’t expect it for another week.  Yet I count us fortunate that we have hot water and still have fuel for my dad’s old camp stove and the gas grill.

Sorry, you’re not gonna find dramatic pictures of wrecked houses and blocked roads.  But on Wednesday, I got out to Lake Denmark.  Debris is strewn all over the road, and there’s a lot of blowdown.  I also saw this:

outhouse blown over by hurricane

Big deal, it’s a just an overturned outhouse, right? Except that it used to be 50 yards away on the far side of the building in the background.


Buying gas is a challenge here in NJ.   I’m telling you, it was easier to get tickets for Led Zeppelin in 1975.  I was fortunate to be able to fill my car, although I waited three hours to do it.  The gas station limited purchases to $50.  So you have to choose between your car and your generator, of you own one.  We don’t have a generator so it was a no-brainer.

gas line, 10 PM 1 november dover nj

People waiting to fill gas cans for their generators. Circa 10 PM, 1 November 2012, Dover NJ. The line for cars took about three hours.


Even though it was past 11 PM, people were hanging out at the gas station and partying like it was 1999.  Salsa and house music blasting, and people drinking.  Mind you this is at 11:30 at night when I finally got gas.  People hanging out, consuming alcohol while watching others buy gas, and in full view of the cops keeping things civil (thank you, Dover police department).

While supply may ease as electricity returns to more gas stations, I remain concerned about the medium term supply chain, i.e. getting gas from tank farms to stations.  As Hurricane Sandy bore down on us last week, a friend mentioned impending food insecurity.  To that I would add fuel (gas/electric) and information security.  It doesn’t help that the electric utilities are intentionally vague about restoring power:  they’re avoiding accountability.
With continued global warming, we may look forward to regular catastrophic storms at the end of October, much as we look forward to other fixed events on the calendar, like Labor Day or the Super Bowl.

So far, we’re thankful to only be inconvenienced.  Be safe out there.