Hurricane Sandy 2012 - the aftermath

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We live at the Jersey Shore, but not right on the ocean. The first few blocks from the ocean were devastated, from Long Island, NY to Atlantic City, NJ. We are five miles from the ocean and almost 150 feet above sea level, so the storm surge was not a threat to us.

But wind and rain was. Fallen trees and lost electricity plagued all of New Jersey. We were without power for three days, and we hope the power we now have continues to work. (It didn't the first time.) We were very lucky; Wayside wasn't completely restored for five days, and I have friends who were out of service for almost two weeks. Two of my friends, with houses in the flood zone, were far worse off than any of these pictures show.

As soon as the power came back on (even the first time) I plugged my cell phone in to charge it. If it runs down, we don't have power to recharge. The heat and refrigerator were already connected and thus took care of themselves, so the next thing I did was upload these pictures I had been taking around the neighborhood. These pictures are all within walking distance of my house. They are not as dramatic -- and definitely not as tragic -- as the pictures you saw on the news. The shore neighborhoods were demolished. These pictures show the problems of the other 99% hit by the hurricane.


This tree fell across a through road (Cold Indian Springs Road), taking wires and even a utility pole with it.


The first lost tree we saw. This Douglas Fir is right across the street from us, and we watched it fall during the height of the storm. It's 35 feet tall and at least 35 years old. Luckily, it missed the houses on both sides.


Bradford Pears and Silver Maples are the weak trees. A large percentage of down trees are these two species. These two Bradford Pears were part of a beautifully landscaped lawn. Back to square one.


Another splintered Bradford Pear.


I'm a little sensitive about Bradford Pears. This is the closest we came ourselves to losing a tree. But, looking at the roots, we are still likely to lose it. (Eventually we did lose it; see the bottom of this page.)


Our next-door neighbor lost the biggest tree in his back yard -- a Silver Maple, of course -- which took about four trees with it.


A silver maple fallen across a driveway. In the process, it took out the utility wires for two residences, seen all over the road.


Rochelle shows why Silver Maples come down so easily. The root system is barely deeper than the sod it took with it.


A pine tree fell on this house. Fortunately, minimal damage.


This fallen tree crushed a fence, and the roof of the sun room of the house next door.

The lines for gasoline were enormous. It was not a gas shortage, but an electricity shortage. Most gas stations could not open because it takes power to pump gas. On top of that, demand was up; people using generators need gasoline to power them. (As electricity was restored to areas, the gas lines shrunk to nothing.)


Enormous line of cars through a residential neighborhood waiting to buy gasoline...


...Continues up the hill...


...And down the road...


The end is finally in sight. The gas station is in the background of this picture, along with a police presence (men, cars, and yellow tape) to keep order.

Notice two lines: one for cars and one for people on foot with gas cans. Anybody with a generator needs refueling right about now.


People seem to be maintaining their morale in this adversity.

But not everybody is operating in good spirits. (No pun intended.) Someone broke into the liquor store.


Here's the kind of generator to have -- and almost nobody does. A whole-house installed unit, running on natural gas. No waiting in line with red cans. No worrying about someone stealing your generator (yes, that has been a problem in some places). No worrying about carbon monoxide poisoning (there have been repeated safety warnings to keep your generator outdoors -- and not, as most do, next to an open garage door).

If you can't afford a natural gas installed unit, here's another solution. It's far from the house, so no monoxide problem. And it's chained to the utility pole; it won't get stolen. Still gotta feed it gasoline, though.

The Fifth Day

I took another walk on Saturday, five days after the hurricane hit. There was great activity to fix things up again. Homeowners cutting up downed trees and moving the pieces to the curb for pickup. Utility crews restoring the downed wires. Some houses still with generators, and wondering when their power would be back. (Mine was back for almost two days at that point, but we had been "camping in" for the first three days.)

Here are some images from that walk...


Deal Road has some deep, wooded plots. Every house on the block had their frontage piled with branches, logs, and even whole trees.

Someone figured out what to do with the stump of a tree that had fallen in the storm.


Here is the biggest power problem in my part of town: the tree down across Cold Indian Springs Road, which took a pole and all the wires down with it. That was the "cover picture" for this album page. Today there was a crew working on the problem.


We have been hearing about workers coming in from all over the country to help. The crew on Cold Indian Springs was from northern Michigan. Great guys, great attitude. No pictures posing, unfortunately; they were too busy fixing things to goof off like that. We'll have to do with candids of men at work.


There were quite a few tasks needed to fix the problem: Remove the fallen tree, to free both wires and traffic. Replace the downed pole. Straighten and repair the next pole down. Re-string the wires.


Two men with chain saws were working on the trees. It looked like a huge, daunting job.

They seemed to be removing branches; once that was done, it would take larger saws to cut up the logs.


Another crew worked on the leaning pole, straightening and repairing it.


This fellow is sculpting the hole, to give a more vertical socket for the pole. Note the new crossarm on the ground, ready to be used to replace the broken, old one.

The crossarm work, and re-stringing the wires, would be done from a bucket truck.

A closeup of the bucket crew. Look at the full-arm rubber gloves, tied behind the shoulders. That's one way to avoid getting zapped.


Another Michigan crew working at the corner of Bowne and Deal with several bucket trucks.

A third truck is a crane on wheels. It holds the crossarm that is being installed.

Further down the road was a repair crew from Lake Hopatcong, in the northern part of New Jersey. I asked one of the crew whether their presence meant that Hopatcong was not hit very hard by the storm. She answered, "Northern Jersey has more customers out than you do down here. But the first priority is fixes that get a lot of customers back in service, so we're down here. Me, I live off in the country. There's a wire down across my driveway. But I can't get it fixed and get power back, because that repair would only get me back into service." Wow, above and beyond the call!


Believe it or not (I admit I barely believed it), here is the scene at Cold Indian Springs less than 24 hours later. Traffic is flowing, the poles are up, the work crews are nowhere to be found, and generators are nowhere to be heard. Electricity is back in all of Wayside!


Here's the remains of the fallen tree that blocked the road for over five days. It took a lot of work to get rid of it in one day.

Here is a guide to the repair in the picture above. The closest utility pole (at the right edge of the picture) was not damaged by the storm. The second one was next to the tree that fell; it was taken down (snapped like a toothpick) along with the wires. It has been completely replaced. The third pole is the one that was leaning; it had to be straightened, and probably received a new crossarm.
As for the wires themselves, the three top wires strung from the crossarm are high-voltage three-phase power wires, probably carrying several thousand volts.
The next wires down have been dropped to standard household AC voltages; these wires provide the drops to the individual houses. You can see a gray transformer "can" on the third pole; it reduces the voltage going from the top wires to the house wires.
The wires below that, drooping down or even hanging to the ground, are telecom cables: telephone, cable TV, and possibly fiber.

I found it interesting that the Cold Indian Springs repair, like every repair I saw today, replaced the power lines but left the telecom lines drooping or trailing on the ground. That tells me that the crews were hired and paid by JCP&L (our power company). It makes sense in a way. Nobody is going to be electrocuted by telecom wires and, in this day of cell phones, loss of telecom is an inconvenience but nothing like the loss of electric power. On this topic, I'd like to mention that we never lost our FiOS service. (That's a Verizon fiber optic service that includes telephone, TV, and Internet.) Our neighbors with Optimum (Cablevision) service lost theirs, and still don't have it back after a week. Looking at the utility repairs, I understand the difference. Verizon buried the FiOS lines underground, so falling trees and teething squirrels can't take it out. Cablevision did not. I saw an interesting jury-rig on day two -- orange wires tied to trees on their way from poles to garage doors -- to get two Cablevision homes back into service. But, for the most part, Cablevision is still out.

More "After" Pictures

A week after the hurricane, we had a classic winter Nor'easter, with six inches of heavy, wet snow. On my property, that did more damage than the hurricane. The Bradford pear whose roots were questionable after the hurricane came apart in the snowstorm, barely missing damaging the house. Good thing I had it guyed away from the house. I had to have the pear tree removed, as well as an eastern red cedar, and about a half dozen large limbs on my big oak tree. (I personally transplanted the red cedar and oak to my yard from a vacant field, almost 40 years ago to the day. They were small enough for a wheelbarrow then; they grew to 20 and 40 feet, respectively, since then.)


Kirby Tree Service from Spartanburg, SC eventually got the job of cutting up and removing the huge tree in my next-door neighbor's yard. Here's the crew after most of the chainsaw work was done.


I hired them to handle my trees as well. I had already contacted a local tree service, but his waiting list was a mile long -- understandable. Here is the view from my house. Nothing but logs and branches as far as the eye can see.

Robert Lyda removes a branch from my oak tree. No bucket truck for these guys -- climbing gear and obviously a ton of practice.


When the crew left (to go back to South Carolina for Thanksgiving), here is what the street in front of the house looked like. There is a pile almost as big on the other side of the driveway.

My thanks to everybody working so hard to fix this mess!