I finally have power restored after hurricane Sandy stopped by for an uninvited visit. I really wasn’t affected much, but surrounding areas and towns like Hoboken are in much worse shape.
This was not my first hurricane–we suffered through the rain of Irene last year, but that didn’t do much in my area. I also lived through a few typhoons in Shenzhen. The most interesting part about the typhoons was that Hong Kong (just a couple miles away) would shut down entirely, but Shenzhen would remain open.
Sandy really didn’t seem like such a bad storm–we barely got any rain and wind didn’t seem that strong. But the storm surge was quite impressive and caused significant damage further inland than anyone expected.
On Monday night, I noticed a lot of my neighbors milling around the hall–they were having a hurricane party. Unfortunately, I work the overnight shift editing news from Asia, so I was stuck working as long as we had power. That didn’t last long…
Around 8:20 p.m., I heard a commotion outside, so I checked on it from my balcony. There was flood water coming up the street. Further down the road usually floods during heavy rain, but this was more than any of us that seen. I read Facebook updates about streets turning to rivers less than half a mile in the other direction. The lights began to flicker. I made a few comments to my coworkers via Skype just before the power went out. I grabbed a glass of Scotch and a cheap flashlight and joined the party.
As I mentioned, hurricane Sandy didn’t seem that dangerous, and a few of us stood outside the door to the building watching the water rise and recede. A few neighbors took their dogs for a short walk.
The next day, I awoke early to survey the damage. Crews were already outside with chainsaws clearing the felled trees. Nearby I saw the most probable reason for the power outage (although I later learned a few substations had flooded). As I walked to Grove St., I noticed more damage. The storefronts had definitely been under water–most basements were still flooded and a few people were using their generators to pump the water out. I was told that the Tacqueria was completely under water, but I didn’t check it out for myself. I did, however, witness someone using a sump pump hooked up to a car.
I later walked to Shoprite with my friend to see if we could find better flashlights or candles since we were told we’d be without power for four to five days. We saw a lot of debris that was deposited along the streets by the flood waters–this street became a river as you can see from my friend’s video (this is less than 1/2 a mile from my place).
Shoprite was ridiculously busy. The store set out power strips in the aisles so people could recharge their phones. All the flashlights and candles were gone (as were most drinks and snacks, but there was plenty of produce).
On our way back, we passed the Barcade, which had a sign that said they had no power but they were serving $4 beers. We stopped in for a Ballast Point Oktoberfest, which was very nice. There were at least 60 people in the Barcade.There was also a long line at both pizzerias that were operating.
I invited my friend to come over later and join the party, drink some beers that would otherwise get warm, and enjoy fried rice with whatever was left in my fridge. We had another lobby party with one of my neighbors carrying out a hand-crank Victrola to provide music. We had some food and drinks, and I met many of my neighbors for the first time. I offered my balcony as a refrigerator as it was colder there than in the fridge–I set out a cooler with the top open, and it kept my food cold enough.
Yesterday, most of Jersey City returned to normal. There was some return of electricity. As I walked out get coffee, I saw a long line–and the power went out as I stepped inside. I later charged my phone at a bar near my brother’s house before we grilled some leftover meat that had thawed in my freezer. It was a depressing walk home as I saw most of downtown with lights, but complete darkness as I reached home.
The Jersey City fire department and police did a very nice job of keeping everything orderly (although there were still too many people driving around aimlessly and nearly running over pedestrians).