One Terrifying Night in New Jersey
To say the past week was intense would be an understatement. I think the better words are “life changing” and “shattering”.
At this time last week we were getting ready for Hurricane Sandy to hit the Jersey shore. Everyone said it would be the worst storm to hit the North East in a hundred years, and maybe even ever!
No one really knew what was coming, but it was going to be much worse than many of us though. A week later and it’s just another day for the majority of the country, but those who were on the coast and in the path of Sandy, it’s still a hellish nightmare.
Seeing a natural disaster on TV is much different than going through one on your own. I am no longer on just one side of the story. The night of October 29th, 2012 is one I will never forget.
As of right now we are without a home as it’s been completed flooded, my office completely gone, the Hummer likely destroyed, one car saved and the future up in the air.
Before jumping to where we are at right now, let’s start from the beginning.
(This was the before and after view from the back door of our house. Note the fence is four feet above ground level, which is another two feet above the water in the first pic. The second pic is from the morning after from our second floor.)
For anyone in the North East, you will surely remember that all of the news was focused on the coming storm Sandy. Most people lost power early. My parents power went out around 4pm and we didn’t lose ours til around 7pm.
Earlier in the day it was mostly windy with a bit of rain. We live on the water (lagoon to bay, leading to barrier island than the ocean). We thought it would be best to throw up wooded boards on the back sliding door just in case the winds got too extreme and the water decided to rise 8 feet and reach the inside of the house.
It still wouldn’t be a few hours til the storm hit land in Atlantic City, but the warnings and effects were surely being felt.
Early Monday Night
As mentioned, the power went off around 8pm, then shortly after the rain and winds started to come. It didn’t even matter that it was raining, it was the storm surge that everyone was worried about. Throw in the full moon and the high tides and we were destined for disaster, but how high would the waters come?
Everyone on our streets talked about how they lived there for 40+ years and never had seen the streets fill with water, so there was never a history of flooding in this area.
I was out that night around 9pm to take Foxy out one more time before staying inside. There were already shingles and gutters being ripped off houses and power lines down and on fire.
Late Monday Night
It wasn’t til 9pm that the water started to rise up to the bulkhead then into the backyard. The power was already off and it was very hard to see outside, even with the use of flash lights. However, I could still see the tide and waves coming closer and closer to the house.
Soon enough the water was against the back bedroom wall which is the closest part of the house to the lagoon. You could hear the waves hitting the house while we were in it, along with the crawlspace filling with water and hitting beneath the floor.
The water was very close to the house and I said it was time for us all to get serious and for me, Reena and Foxy to move up to the second level we have in the house. It’s not a full second floor, but more like a loft area, which means it’s open and we can see most of the house from the second floor.
I kept running down stairs to see where the water was at and doing everything I could to save any last items in the house that were still on the ground level. I opened the door leading to the garage and the water was less than an inch from coming into the house.
A few seconds later I ran to the back door and sure enough, the water was slowly flowing across the tile floors throughout the house. I ran to the office and the same thing, ecxect it was now coming through the walls of the house and floors.
There was nothing I could do.
From this point on I just kept doing everything I could to save whats left in the house to be saved and move everything to a higher surface.
Fast forward an hour or so and the water is now flowing throughout the house and two feet high. I’m still running through the house, the water is freezing and loaded with gasoline from all of the cars and boats out side.
No idea how high the water was going to get, and the chance of a rescue at this point was near impossible.
We were fortunate enough to have a house with two levels. I can’t imagine going through this same experience in a one level home.
The rest of the night would be spent wondering when this horrible tide would ever go down and how high the water would eventually rise to.
While all of this is going on, I’m continually texting my dad (who was also without power and desperately trying to get to us, but was impossible) with updates from my phone, which amazingly enough lasted through the night to the next day.
It wasn’t til early the next morning that the water actually started to pull back, which was still only about a foot.
The next morning was nearly just as intense as the previous night. Still flooded and no idea what to expect, except we now at least had light.
Here’s a memorable picture of the first thing I see when I opened my front door that morning… still with nearly two feet of water flowing through the house.
I had pulled the Hummer up to the house as close as I could the previous night and it was still more than half under water. Fortunately I had moved it closer, as I was able to climb on top of it from my front step and be able to see what was going on.
The local fire and police department has rescue missions going on throughout the whole previous night and current day. The problem was the water was still flooded so high that the military vehicles still couldn’t get through. There were also fire trucks, cars and boats stranded in the middle of streets, which meant no one could get past them.
A tractor had come and picked up the people two houses down from us who were in a one level house. They had to sit in the front bucket of the tractor. No one was going anywhere… not to mention there was random floating boats sitting in the middle of the streets.
Later in the day a boat came and rescued two older ladies in their 90s at the end of the street. It wasn’t til around 3pm that a huge monster truck came to rescue me, Reena and Foxy along with a couple other families on the street. These guys were pure heroes and not even part of the fire department or police force.
There really is no “After Sandy”, as we have just gotten started. The important thing is that we made it out alive and in tact, which is what many people in NJ simply can’t say.
While the mainstream news were quickly turning away from Sandy, the aftermath is still there and much worse than the media projects and what people are lead to believe. Even the inspectors and FEMA people are saying this storm is worse than Katrina because of it’s massive power and wide spread damage.
In the end we went through hell, the house is done and the office is wiped out, but we are safe. Next we will have to go through all of the insurance processes, working with FEMA, ripping down the walls and rebuilding the home.
There is really so much more going on then I could possible remember and document on here right now. I will keep you updated as we progress.
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