Frankenstorm was the first (and hopefully the last) real natural disaster that I was in the middle of. Living through the 48 hours of fear, wind howling, adrenalin trees bending, power transformers blowing and insomnia is not something that I could possible recommend – all while pretending that everything will be grand when the kids were watching or asking.
A week after Sandy the Bitch hammered the US East Coast, leaving a trial of destruction behind her like some female serial killer. They should really name these super storms after these women of death; Aileen, Myra, Beverly or Mary Ann. Giving them names like Sandy and Irene just makes us smile at these as they remind us of “Grease“.
It was time to assess the full damages. The news covered the devastation very well and the images from other locations reinforced my belief that we had been extremely lucky.
The office and schools were closed the week of the storm due to power outage so I had to attempt to work from home. It’s actually not easy getting things done or attend conference calls, when you have three kids running around the house. Although it sounds ‘romantic’ that one can work from home, it requires a dedicated area with soundproof walls and hidden door preventing access for kids.
The day after the storm was fine and we had plenty of supplies. It was not until Thursday morning that we realised that we’d better get petrol. News channels were reporting fuel shortages, and my mind immediately portrayed images from the Mad Max movies – me sitting on the El Camino with a 200 gallon petrol tank, followed by ravaging outlaws.
I decided to go to the petrol station before we ran out and thought that going around midnight would secure me a full tank. How wrong I was!
At 12.107am (midnight) I pulled in behind what appeared to be a petrol line. In reality it was a long snake of red-eyed car lights, moving at a snails pace towards the Golden (greenish) beacon of the Hess sign. I couldn’t actually see the end of the line, but I had to get petrol.
At 2.58am, almost 3 hours later, I was only three cars away from the entrance. Tiredness had departed and had been replaced by over-tiredness, and I was frantically humming ‘Creeping Death‘ by Metallica. Suddenly, and to my greatest fear, the local sheriff pulled into the forecourt and started to place traffic cones strategically across the entrance. They had in fact run of petrol and I had no choice but to head home – pretty exhausted at this stage.
I spent the next few days visiting different petrol stations and was glued to the computer to find any petrol station that might be open. The problem was that the refineries had been slightly damaged by Sandy and 70% of petrol stations had been left with no power. No power = no pumps!
People from all parts of New Jersey were out hunting for petrol, so it was just a matter of time before someone lost the plot and fights would erupt. Everybody were on the edge and the normal friendly traffic manners were replaced with cut-throat driving. Every man for himself as we were hunting for petrol. Martial Law had kicked in, in New Jersey.
Thankfully the local soprano dudes had not “invested” in petrol stations, otherwise we would have had some interesting hours in line waiting for petrol … “forget about et … get outa ‘ere!”.
We finally got some petrol and can breath a little easier now.
It was amazing to see how reliant we (people in the US) is on petrol. People with generators might be delighted that they have power, but they still have to hunt for petrol like the rest of us, otherwise their power stops too.
Within a few days after the storm, residents in New Jersey and New York states quickly realised that they’d better get food too. If we had no fuel, then the delivery trucks might not be able to get out either … and so the panic shopping started. You ended up buying things you’d normally ignore, but now it might become a meal. I had already bought loads of food, so we were set for more than a week.
Two weeks after Sandy arrived, some parts of NJ are getting back to normal. Power has been restored, schools open and business have resumed to day-to-day routines.
It’ll take many months for the most affected parts to get somewhat back to normality, if that’ll ever happen. Some areas are so badly damaged that it might not be possible to restore these neighbourhoods.