Holly & Heather’s Handy Hint: Living Through Hurricane Sandy

by helpinghandstwins

We live in New York and are devastated by the damage that Hurricane Sandy left in its path all throughout the tri-state area.  Our heartfelt prayers go out to all those families who lost loved ones.  The shoreline has been changed forever and the re-building of homes and businesses will take months, maybe years.

We wanted to share our experience, while not horrific, it was surprising that something as simple as losing your power changes your whole way of living. We always thought it would be easy, no make that simple and peaceful, to live as the Amish do, unplugged and self-sufficient, off the grid. Heather lost power for only 2 days, Holly for 4. Between us, we had siding, gutter, fence and deck railing damage and lost trees. We were very lucky. Most of Holly’s in-laws still have no power and one lost their car.  Dad’s cousins watched their cars float away down the road in Staten Island.  But  the worst of it was emotional.  Going to the grocery store before the storm hit and seeing all of those panicked faces as people are scrambling to stock up on food & supplies was scary.  Water gone, D-batteries for your flashlights gone.  We thought of ourselves as pretty prepared, but this scene really rattled our nerves.

So here’s our story.  The power goes out on Monday, before the storm even gets really bad.  It seems ok for the first night…this will be cozy, we’ll read by candlelight, play games. We had our phones charged and the kids gaming devices were all set.  But by the next day a cold shower really hurts.  You want to get something from the fridge but are afraid to open it and let out the cold air.  At that point, we didn’t know how bad things really were, we had no tv, no internet, the newspaper didn’t get delivered.  It was difficult to discern whether or not our jobs were open or if the kids had school (they were closed for many days). We knew we’d be ok with food for about 5 days…surely it wouldn’t last that long.  We couldn’t talk on the phone which was really hard for us as we talk everyday.  Cell service was bad, but we could text although sometimes messages didn’t actually go thru until hours after they were sent.  Relatives were calling from Florida to see if we were ok but couldn’t reach us.  Everyone else was watching this horrible aftermath on tv.  By Wednesday morning you are sitting in your cold car trying to charge your cell phone little bits at a time so you don’t drain your car battery.  You start to get irritable with your family, you’ve been sitting in complete and total darkness for 2 nights.  It is cold at night as you have no heat; this isn’t cozy anymore.  Heather’s power comes back on first, but no one farther than 30 minutes away wants to come over, the roads are a mess and everyone’s afraid to leave their houses. What if looting starts as it has in some neighborhoods?  Travel is dangerous too with so many traffic lights out and everyone starts to worry about having enough gas.  Holly winds up going to mom & dad’s on Thursday as they get their power back the day before.  She stays until Saturday when her power finally comes back on.  Heather brings food to all at mom & dad’s as grocery stores around them are ransacked…all refrigerated & frozen foods have to be thrown away due to the power outage.  Now the gas shortage is a reality. All stations are either closed or it is a 1-8 hour wait on a gas line, depending on where you go.  Holly’s husband found one station yesterday that would let him fill up his lawn mower can.  They were turning away cars.  He thinks he got the bottom of the barrel.  Five minutes after he left, that station closed.

So we thought we were prepared, you know, plenty of canned goods, flashlights and bottled water, but here’s a few hints and things we’d definitely do differently next time:  Buy a hand-crank radio with a cell phone charger; Make sure all cars have a full tank of gas; Check all pet food supplies – Holly was running low on guinea pig food and didn’t realize what a ghost town her neighborhood would be for so long; Buy sterno (cans used under chafing dishes) to heat up food – that tip’s from mom who could successfully make coffee that way!

Here are some things we did that were so helpful: Holly has a fireplace and stocked up on wood before the storm hit – it provided light and warmth and they even cooked over it for a little while before their pot rusted out 😦 ; We both did all of our laundry the day before the storm anticipating no washer and dryer; We had a car charger that accepts two and three-pronged plugs so we could use/charge any corded item from the car; Baby wipes and Clorox wipes came in handy to have at home; We filled our bathtubs with water in case we needed it for flushing or washing.

We want to give a huge thank you to Heather’s friend who had her family over for a hot meal and stored perishables in her fridge and Holly’s neighbors who banned together and helped them clean up her backyard.  We are helping by donating clothes and have started a food drive at our dancing school.  So much of America is helping out in our most devastated areas.  Locally, people are donating everything from blankets to food to clothes.  It’s truly heartwarming.  In the end, all material things can be replaced with the exception of photos and sentimental things. But if your loved ones are safe, that’s all that really matters.

How did you fare in the storm? Please feel free to share your story,  it can be emotionally cathartic.

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