Sandy and Mother Nature

Mother Nature produces many offspring each year. Her latest incarnation was a daughter named Sandy. Sandy was a very aggressive and agitated child that was born in the Caribbean, grew up in and around the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas then made a bee line straight for the north eastern seaboard where she literally destroyed coastal towns on the New Jersey shoreline. It has been years since a storm of this magnitude made landfall in this area.  Were we prepared? Yes. However, when a mom unleashes her inner fury through one of her children all you can do is hold on and pray. Cat 1 Hurricane meets Nor’easter during a full moon. It could be years before some of the shore towns are up and running again.

In Seaside Park, workers preparing the beach the day before Sandy’s landfall

I have always loved the raw fury of a good storm and have worked during many of them. This one I decided to work on making sure my home and family were safe. My wife however, had to go in. The only saving grace is that for this storm she was under a roof. Though, she did not have many resources available due to what amounted to be nearly a state wide power failure…I would have rather been outside than dealing with what she and her coworkers had to contend with.

Storm and surf the day before Sandy’s arrival

I went out the day before Sandy’s arrival and shot some of a beach in Seaside Park. Brought the 20 mm 2.8 with me. The wind was already pushing me along, you can get decent  traction by digging your feet into the sand…It really is an exhilarating experience knowing what a force nature is.

Although my neighborhood fared OK damage wise, we were without power for 11 days. And even though I had downloaded and backed up all my pictures, viewing them on a laptop just is not the same as a desktop.  As I was going through my photos today I came across one that I had no idea would mean so much to so many. 30 hours after this was taken, the structure on the far right was in the ocean and would become a symbol of this storms destruction.

The Seaside pier @30 hours before it fell into the sea

Sandy arrived on a Monday, I went in to work early so I could get home early. After I left work I stopped by the Shark River Inlet which separates Avon by the Sea and Belmar. I found a little shelter and broke out my 200 with a rain cover on it. I was actually surprised at how many people were out. Met some people who knew what they were up against and some who had no idea. These were taken between 11 and 11:30 am, 7 hours before landfall in Atlantic City, 70 miles to the south.

Waves crashing the jetty extension – Avon side
Inlet jetty Avon Side

We lost power around 2 pm and for the next 11 days candle lights and fires in the wood stove. Even though it sounded like there was a truck driving along our roof, my scariest moment was watching a rather large tree in front of our house twist back and forth. While I was watching though I became at ease when the wind direction said if the tree falls it will fall into the street and not onto the house. Trees are what scare me the most during storms.

Thousands of people were displaced as their homes were destroyed. Schools turned into shelters, Cars lined up 3 miles for gas because the refineries could not offload and many stations were without power. Cell phones were still operational. I really believe that this saved many peoples sanity. Facebook lived! This was the only way to find out what was going on in the state. The outpouring of help between friends and neighbors never ceases to amaze me. Everyone always comes together in a time of crisis.

Exploring the damage the day after proved to be difficult due to all the trees and power lines down, many of the roads flooded and impassable. These are a couple of the back bay shots from the day after:

Beachwood Beach parking lot.
The back bay in Pine Beach

So what does one do for 11 days without power. Kerplunk, Yahtzee, visiting people with power, eating Red Cross lunches and dinners and of course taking photographs of anything in the house I could think of. This I shall leave to another day as to stay on target with Sandy.

With assistance pouring in, power crews, tree services, EMS, Law enforcement and other personnel came in from many different states. Many people in NJ had lost everything. But these workers were giving up their own lives to come and help us. Leaving their homes, their families, their comfort to assist in getting us back together.

The Boys from Alabama Power made it to our section of town on Tuesday November 6 but ran into a slight problem:

A momentary delay

Six inches of snow decided to fall upon us. And we were one of the lighter areas hit in the state. This was not your ordinary snowfall though, this was a snow that was wet and heavy. Tree branches bent at unhealthy angles, I could hear the branches breaking through the woods across the street. Like the first night, the sky was filled with the unmistakable crack and glow of transformers blowing. People that already had their power restored had lost it again. Injury on top of insult.

But this little dig from Mother Nature’s Nor’easter could not halt their progress for long.The following day it was back to work. Those who had power would get it restored quickly, those of us who did not remained hopeful for continued progress.

Signs of Life!

And on Thursday before they turned us back on the folks from Jaflo Tree service in PA. trimmed back the branches off the power lines to keep us safe in the future. The anticipation was maddening, knowing that by the end of the day power would be restored.

The final step

All in all it was a very interesting week at the Shep’s Pioneer Shack. Brought back memories of child hood vacations at my grandmothers in Tennessee. Though this time, we did not have to use an outhouse…

Till next time when I will explore the world of preventing boredom during power loss….

Thank you for reading!

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