A year ago this week we experienced Hurricane Sandy. Two weeks before the superstorm struck we moved from London to a small town on the water in Long Island.
Our rented house had a beautiful view of the water. Just a little field between us and the beach where deer would gather every night at dusk.
And ducks would waddle across the deck in the mornings.
I was prepared. I’d been used to organizing news coverage and overseeing television crews for major international disasters. I’d covered conflicts. I’d checked and made the calls to confirm it was okay to stay in our home on the water. I’d stocked up with all the emergency items necessary. The kids were excited at the prospect of sleeping in a closet I’d turned into a mini hideout for them.
On the morning of October 29th, I decided to cook a proper English breakfast. The rain had obliterated our view of the bay and the wind had begun bashing against our windows, but I wanted my kids to be calm. Mum humming while she cooked sausages and bacon. Our breakfast was interrupted by loud banging on the door. Two firemen were going house to house on our side of the street recommending voluntary evacuation.
I was alone in a new town with two young children – my husband wouldn’t be able to join us until the spring when he received his Green Card – so I immediately agreed to leave. I had one old friend who lived in a nearby town but I wasn’t going to risk driving there in a road through woods in the shadow of a hurricane.
I had already packed some clothes, sleeping bags, new toys and food as a precaution. I grabbed some pillows and a blanket and loaded them up in the car.
We spent the night in the local high school gym which had been converted into a shelter. It wasn’t very crowded: five nuns, five elderly adults and five families with children.
The kids loved the shelter. Kids to hang out with – they even played games in the middle of the gym – and, of course, new toys. Me? As a former journalist it drove me mad not knowing what was going on outside during Hurricane Sandy. No internet! The basketball score machine kept ringing intermittently throughout the night.
We left in the morning and went back to our house. No damage. No floods. Some roses on the back fence had even managed to withstand the wind. The rising sea water and waves had headed west and didn’t even reach the field behind our house. Quite a lot of trees had fallen down all around us but none had touched our house. (The top image shows fallen trees in a small wood copse behind our house.)
For six days we had no power and no heat. No internet. And there was no petrol available to fill up the car. We barbecued any meat or seafood that had been in the freezer.
At nighttime I would build a huge fire and light candles. Luckily I could keep the kids amused as we had a car dual DVD player that worked with batteries – and I had made sure to stock up pre-hurricane with masses of batteries.
We were the lucky ones.
Too many lost their lives and their homes in areas hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.
Carrie@Time to be an Adult says
Wow I can imagine how fun that would have been for the children…bit of a BBQ overload though!
Little bit scary for them when we had to dash in the car to the shelter but otherwise they viewed it as a bit of an adventure.
Charly Dove says
Oh wow Kriss what a post and what an experience. It must have been terrifying when you heard you had to be evacuated. I can imagine you were just itching to know what was going on though too! The kids looked like they had fun in the shelter. You guys were so lucky, you must have been truly relieved. Thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory
It was very strange being part of the story rather than covering it! And the kids weren’t scared at all which was a relief.
Oh my what an experience and one I’m sure you will all remember for ever for so many reasons.
Quite an experience but the kids were fine and we were so lucky compared to so many.
Hard to believe it’s already been a year, glad you escaped any serious damage. Visiting from Magic Moments at The Oliver’s Madhouse!
Sara (@mumturnedmom) says
We were here for Sandy last year too, although much further north than you, so less effected. Schools were closed for the day of the hurricane and the wind and rain were impressive, but we were very lucky – a few trees down, but that was about it! Can’t believe it’s been a year… A night in a shelter certainly goes on the list of life experiences 🙂
My kids’ school was closed for a week – and they’d only been there two weeks as we arrived in mid October – so had to keep them busy and warm.
Dragonsflypoppy-White Feathers says
Wow what a story. It must have been quite frightening. How incredible that some roses withstood that hurricane. I always find it incredible what destruction can be caused by mother nature. x
Yeah I was amazed that the roses were fine even though they were completely exposed while a huge tree toppled over in the neighbour’s garden about 20 feet away! Must have been hardy English roses 🙂
Jaime Oliver says
awww Kriss this must of really been terrifying!! i am so pleased you were safe with no damage to your house, its so sad that others suffered 🙁
Thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x
Thanks Jaime it wasn’t too bad for us but Hurricane Sandy was devastating for so many others.
amanda walsh says
Wow what a welcome to america!
Glad you were all safe
Yep it was quite a start but the local townspeople couldn’t have been nicer. In fact bumped last week into the local young cop who was at the shelter that night and he greeted me with a hug!
Wow, what an experience. Extra scary being in a new place as well. You sound like one organised and calm mummy 🙂
Great post and what an experience, I can see why the kids loved it. Must have felt like one big adventure for them. Not so much fun for you though. But good to stay positive as it could have been so much worse.
Lou's Lake Views says
It’s good that your past experiences taught you to keep calm and be organised. Being much further North than you we didn’t get it nearly as bad but it was still pretty terrifying. I think that would have freaked me out completely if I’d only just arrived in the country!
The toughest part was probably not having any power for six days and a lack of petrol. That’s when you wish you had friends around to help out but we’d just moved there less than two weeks before.