By November 9, 2012 Read More →

Stormy Weather: Sandy Pays an Unwelcome Visit (Part I)

I think you would probably have to be living under a rock these days to not have heard about Hurricane Sandy or Superstorm Sandy or whatever you call the monster storm that hit the east coast of the U.S. in the last week of October. It was, the weather forecasters told us ahead of time, a recipe for disaster. Take one nasty hurricane, add a nor’easter, sprinkle in a cold front and stir with a backwards jet stream. Cook slowly with a full moon to create an ultra high tide. And hunker down.

(The last time we got hit by a hurricane was Irene in 2011; feel free to read my post on the battening and hunkering we had to do back then and the post about how we weathered the storm, which was only a little over a year ago.)

We knew it was going to be bad when Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel showed up in Battery Park in the lower tip of Manhattan. He only goes where they expect the worst weather to happen. Jim Cantore and Mike Seidel. Mike showed up on the Jersey coast. When you see them in your neighborhood, you know you’re in for it.

So it wasn’t too surprising that Sandy hit New York and New Jersey very hard.

During the storm, which began in earnest on Monday, October 29 and lasted through the next day, we spent most of the daytime in the basement. It was the first time the kittens were down there, so for them it was mostly fun and games and exploration.

How do kittens while away the time while in the basement? By playing Foosball. Of course.

The wind kicked up as the day went on, and by evening the wind really was howling. I would take the dogs outside to do their business and I kept looking up at the sky and wondering why jets were still flying–and so low that I could really heard their engines. And then it dawned on me. The sound wasn’t from airplanes; it was the wind. That loud. Really.

The dogs weren’t happy. It was loud and wet. And blowy. Not fun to play in. They kept looking at me as if to say, “Turn it off already!”

Jasper and Tucker: It’s raining! We’re getting wet! Let us in already!
Even when the rain let up a bit, Tucker and Jasper weren’t that happy with the nasty winds.
A wet Lilah didn’t mind wind or rain.

I always thought hurricanes meant lots of rain. But this was really a wind event. We would get bands of rain with serious downpours now and again, but it was the blowing, thrashing wind that showed Mother Nature’s power to us.

Pine siskins attempted to shelter from the winds by clinging to the side of our large maple tree.
Strong winds shredded leaves from the trees and plastered them against the house. Jasper didn’t care; he just wanted to get inside where it’s warm and dry.
In the midst of it all, Athena slept right next to the windows as the wind rattles the panes. She barely twitched a whisker.

By nighttime, the winds were getting stronger. You could hear it even within the safety of our home.  The dogs and cats and kittens, for the most part, ignored the storm. You could tell Lilah wasn’t very happy as she stuck a little closer to me when the winds were bad. And every once in a while, a gust came through that made everyone perk up their ears and brace for something. But nobody was panicking or hiding…except for maybe Dawn, but she Hides all the time; it’s her hobby.

At 7:30, the power went out. I would say we are lucky enough to have a generator, but we have a generator because two years ago we were very unlucky; an ill-timed storm caused us to lose power, and our battery back-up sump pumps couldn’t keep up with the rain. We lost a lot of what we had stored in our basement from the resulting flood. It took us months to pick up the pieces; the silver lining was we were able to put the insurance money toward finishing the basement, and most important, installing a generator that is hooked up to our natural gas line.

That last part is real important: the generator is hooked up to our natural gas line. Which means when the power goes out, the generator automatically starts up. And keeps going. We don’t have to fill it with gas. All we have to is check the oil if it runs for more than five days. Which one always hopes never happens.

We invited our neighbor over to spend the evening with us, and we spent the evening with our generator providing light and warmth–and power to the pumps. At one point, a particularly vehement gust shook the house. We halted our conversation and looked at each other, wide-eyed. When we started breathing again–not realizing at first that we had been holding our breaths–I could feel the adrenaline pounding through me. We all did. It felt like we had been brushed by something unbelievably powerful.

Later that night, we put the cats and kittens in the basement, as it was one of the safest rooms in the house–and the one most likely to stay closed and untouched if a tree landed on our roof. And my husband and I slept (make that “attempted to sleep”) in my son’s vacant room, along with the dogs, figuring it was furthest from the giant tree in our backyard, and hopefully less likely to be damaged.

It was a Very Long Night.

In my next post, I’ll write about the aftermath of Sandy.

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