The rather dull story of one man and a dog on the fringes of Sandy — Part 2 of 2!

November 29, 2012

Note: This is the conclusion of a two-part post about, well, the rather dull story of one man and a dog on the fringes of Sandy. Click here to read the rather mundane beginning of this story!

***

It was around 8:30 Monday evening, at the height of the storm, when the power died.

R’s house is well stocked with flashlights; I broke out a few. Without electricity, I knew that I would have only a few hours for messing around with any of my digital devices. But the Internet was out, of course — or at least, the wireless router had no power to distribute its signal inside the house. And anyway, I was too keyed up to do much reading, either online or in print, because the wind was still shaking the house vigorously.

I ended up going to bed. There are windows in every room on the second floor of R’s house, but the ones in the bedroom where I typically stay aren’t very big. Yes, the wind was still blowing, but I was warm beneath the covers and Lucky was curled up comfortably beside me. It was hard to feel terrified. In fact, it was hard to stay awake; before much time had passed, I fell asleep.

I was probably out for some three hours. When I woke, around midnight, the wind had died down significantly. The power was still dead, but there were still plenty of flashlights. Lucky and I had last been out for a walk around 4 o’clock, so I got dressed and we went out.

The entire neighborhood was dark, and there were no cars. I ventured off of our side street onto a normally busy road and peered toward the nearest traffic light. It was dark. We turned around and took a different path out of the development. The next-nearest traffic light was also dark.

The skies were bright and clear Tuesday morning. When Lucky and I went out for a walk, I took plenty of time to gape at various downed trees, some of which were massive. Yet in truth, very little damage had been done to R’s neighborhood. There were no large bodies of water near by, so the area was immune from the potential devastation of storm surge or flooding.

Since we weren’t particularly near the path of Sandy’s eye, I assume the winds, as much as they scared me, may have been well below the 74 miles per hour threshold that delineates tropical storm from hurricane. (One reason Sandy was called a superstorm was that it lost hurricane strength soon after making landfall, but public officials did not want anyone to be complacent about its ability to wreak havoc. Another reason was that its dimensions were enormous.)

The roof of R’s house had been redone less than two years ago. To my inexpert eye, it seemed fine. When I went to the side where the TV room is located, I saw the large branch that had so frightened Lucky and me the night before. It was resting peacefully right where it had fallen. Despite the impact, all of the shingles appeared to be intact.

***

The power didn’t come back until Tuesday night. R had a portable power supply in the house. Because I frequently switched my AT&T phone into airplane mode or off entirely, its battery lasted for most of the outage, and I didn’t use my other gadgets enough to require charging. (The cell phone only got intermittent voice and data service at the house during the power outage; it returned to normal about two days after the storm passed.)

Fortunately, R has a land line, and it worked fine even when almost every other electrical device in the house fell dormant. After speaking with R Monday night (thanks in part to the difference in time zones between New York and where R was), I located a battery-powered radio and tuned it to WNYC, New York’s National Public Radio station.

The phone, which I used both to call R out west and to speak to a well-connected local friend, and the radio connected me to the outside world. The information and communication that these devices afforded me were hugely comforting.

Sandy had a significant impact all across the Tri-State area, devastating many coastal communities in both New Jersey and New York City and putting millions of people in the dark. It also killed more than 100 people, once the toll was finalized. Still, it was good to learn that authorities were working to restore normalcy even as Sandy slowly chugged west into Pennsylvania.

***

In some places, such as R’s neighborhood, conditions started returning to normal within a day or so of Sandy’s sweeping through the New York metro area. In other places, where water and fire wrecked roads and buildings, normalcy has not yet returned; indeed, a few spots will simply never be restored to the way they were.

Recently, it was announced that Sandy had inflicted an estimated $71 billion of damage in New York and New Jersey — a breath-taking number. But to me, the most astounding effect of Sandy was its constriction of the supply of gasoline throughout much of New York and New Jersey.

If you paid any attention to the news in the days after Sandy, you saw or heard about lines at Tri-State gas stations. The reports that I saw were in no way exaggerated.

Even though I’m just old enough to have very vague memories of gas rationing from what I assume was the second OPEC-induced oil shortage of the 1970s, it was astonishing to see gas become scarce. For the last three or so days of my visit to New York, every gas station I passed was either beset by excruciatingly slow-moving lines or closed due to lack of electricity or gasoline. Any station that was actually operating its gas pumps was guarded by police.

On the Friday after Sandy, when I drove to the airport to pick up R, I passed a line of cars that was six-tenths of a mile long. (I measured it with my odometer.) I passed multiple gas lines that were three-, four- and fifth-tenths of a mile.

New Jersey instituted statewide gas rationing, even though gas was reportedly not hard to find in the southern Jersey. Friends told me about driving many additional miles in their search for petroleum. One roadside highway sign that I saw announced that an upcoming rest stop’s pumps were empty.

***

This weighed on my mind because I had to drive more than nine hours on my return trip, and waiting two to four hours in line for gas just isn’t my idea of fun.

As I wrote on Wednesday, I had filled up my car with gas before the storm arrived. I kept my post-Sandy driving to a minimum, but going to the airport and back left me with about a half a tank.

But I kept my driving to a minimum before my Sunday-morning departure. On my getaway day, the remaining half-tank in my car took me down to Maryland. I stopped at a rest area and, thankfully, was able to fill up with gasoline just like normal.

And so ends my perfectly routine story of a storm, a dog and me.

***

As always, thanks for reading, folks. I’m planning to post something not quite as dull tomorrow. Take care, everyone!

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One Response to “The rather dull story of one man and a dog on the fringes of Sandy — Part 2 of 2!”


  1. […] should enjoy this show. This podcast also holds a soft spot in my heart because Pesca used to be a reporter for WNYC and NPR and Fatsis is the author of a popular book about Scrabble and regularly attends the annual […]


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