November 11, 2012

Storm Recap

The Monday of Hurricane Sandy, we had battened down the house and yard, taped up a couple windows, removed anything moveable from the outside. We had hunkered down in the living room, and waited. I was watching a local amateur weather station's live reports on my tablet, and saw the wind speed and gusts moving up and up, to just over 40mph around 8pm. But there was no appreciable rain at all, which was helping. At 8:30pm, I heard a loud "pop" down the street and our power went out. Our house generator kicked in, and one minute later, we had some power back. The living room, kitchen, and office had power, and our furnace, water heater, and sump pumps were ok. And our cable TV and internet were still working! We had brought the kids small mattresses downstairs and started to put them to sleep. By 9:30pm I saw that the wind gusts were dropping along with the average wind speed. And the barometric pressure had bottomed out and was beginning to rise. By 10pm, I figured we had weathered the storm ok, and while we still might get some damage, it wasn't going to get much worse.

The next day, I walked the property and saw that there were just a few branches down, not much really. Several neighbors had their generators on and were fairly loud. The weather was actually quite nice (as it was for the next several days). My job was just to check the oil in the generator every day and replace it as needed; as long as I did that we should be fine for a couple weeks. Tuesday I worked from home, but went in to work on Wednesday. Kristen's dad and Mary Ann came over, as they were out of power. And Carol and Billy, who lost power but had heat, would stop over for the evening to catch up on the news and watch Jeopardy before heading back home.

We were fortunate due to our location well inland and relatively high up that flooding was never an issue. But all the storm surge in the lower-lying Newark basin meant that there were vast substation outages, which meant that the priority for electrical repair work went to the urban areas. So we lived like this for most of a week. The problem turned out to be getting gasoline. We had both filled our cars before the storm, so we had several days to spare. And, I had done the extra work to make sure our generator was fed by our natural gas system, and so didn't require daily fill-ups of gasoline. So far, our Generac system has proved it's worth.

Our power eventually came on a week and a day later. I was able to get some more gas that day too, so, again, all told, we were lucky and our plans for weathering such events worked out.

And then.. We got the Winter Nor'-Easter. Both Kristen and I had to work in New York City on that Wednesday; as usual, we both took our local NJ Transit express bus service in to Port Authority. It was raining in the morning, but not too bad. By the mid-afternoon though, the snow was coming down pretty good. I got out of work early and made it through the chaos of the bus terminal, got on a bus, back home, and picked up the kids by 5pm. They were able to play outside in the snow for a few minutes before we had to go inside because it was getting dark and very cold. By evening we had 2+ inches of snow all over. Parts of our town were out of power again. Kristen made it back about 7pm with a fairly normal bus ride. This time we didn't lose power - just had to shovel off some snow and clear it off the cars in the morning. Sadly for the kids, it was warmer and rainy the next day, so they never even got to play in the snow at all.

All in all, we were very lucky and we're grateful that we had no damage at all to our house and happy we were able to help out neighbors and friends who had a far worse experience. Posted by netrc at November 11, 2012 08:10 PM