Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sandy and after

It felt bizarre driving to work yesterday. For the past 2 weeks, a number of these roads were closed, huge trees uprooted or snapped at the trunk, houses and cars damaged, utility poles broken, power lines downed or sagging. As hurricane Sandy and the nor'easter that followed a week later plunged the state into darkness, the residents of NJ plodded with stoicism through the inconvenience of power cuts, traffic delays, road closures and odd-even gas rationing; knowing, almost feeling guilty that while their lives would return to normal within a week or two, there were many others who were impacted in far worse ways. There were lives lost, houses, property and personal belongings damaged and destroyed.

And this morning, 2 weeks after Sandy, as I joined the traffic on Route 22, normal people on our way to work, there were still broken sidewalks, fallen trees, utility companies from in and out of state hard at work to restore power to the 60,000+ residents still out of power. Neighborhoods are recovering and are starting to look festive for the holidays. Uprooted trees have become neatly stacked piles of firewood. Still thousands without heat, hot water and a place to live.

One of the casualties of Sandy, we all know, was the NY Marathon. Though my initial reaction to the last-minute decision to cancel the race was indignation and a hot-blooded resolution to boycott all future NYRR events, I am neither an organizer nor was I planning to race; I can see both sides of the argument and have nothing productive to add to this much-debated subject, so I'll just say that my heart goes out to the people affected by the decision...runners and non-runners, even the organizers. Months of training, race fees, travel and hotel costs, not to mention all the mental and emotional preparation; and the millions of dollars of potential revenue the NYRR lost. Enough said.

For me, Sandy started and ended with races. 2 weeks ago, as a small group of runners participated in the XC 8K USATF championship race, a day before Sandy, the clouds were starting to gather, and there was a general air of nervousness about what to expect; yet also a touch of disbelief that the storm could in reality be as powerful as forecasted. The usual cookout after the race was cancelled and people left immediately after the race.

DH and I went 9 days without power, a time that felt like eternity to us. The night that Sandy wrecked havoc on everything in sight, we were on night duty, watching the water level in our sump pump rise, ready to manually bail water. Thankfully, we were spared and our basement didn't flood. The rest of the week was spent in trying to stay warm the old fashioned way, find parking lots where we could access wifi, taking advantage of generous friends' warm homes, laundry services and internet connections. And taking turns being mean to each other (try it...helps let off steam...we try not to blow up at the same time though; it could come to blows). Complaining to family in India didn't help...they're veterans of 'powerless' existence over there. My mother lives through 14 hours of power cut virtually every day...and it's ninety degrees and muggy most of the time. Kinda like living in a sauna.

I ran, during the storm...early enough in the day when the winds were not powerful enough to blow me away. And after the storm, through the sad debris of fallen trees, branches, mangled power lines and damaged neighborhoods.

2 weeks after Sandy, we had near-perfect temps at the Giralda Farms 10K; and a bigger turnout. Discussions appeared to circle around the after-effects of Sandy; but only briefly. It was as if we had enough of the storm, and wanted to move on. Through these past weeks, people have helped, pitched in, contributed in their own ways. But let's hope that as we move on from this calamity and head into the holidays, we continue to remember the folks that have been impacted and help our community get back on it's feet.       


ajh said...

Glad nothing terrible happened to you. Being without power is the pits! 8 days is a long time. I think the longest I have been without it is 5 days and that was terrible. And there wasn't tons of devastation around us.

Beth said...

Glad to see you made it through the storm okay and that your running is going well. Hope your area recovers quickly and thing get back to normal.

physicsl therapists nj said...

I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.