Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Survived the Blizzard of 2010 - Do I Get a T-Shirt?

Yes, I survived, with the help of a number of really wonderful people.

I know I've talked about Lisa often, and told you what a good friend she is. But this time it goes beyond that. I guess it takes a blizzard to demonstrate the extent of friendship.

We lost power about 3:AM Saturday. Pretty amazing, since the streets on either side of us had it and we didn't. I have an all electric house - which I wouldn't trade for anything else - but it's pretty inconvenient at a time like this.

When it got light and I could see what had transpired over night, I knew I would be inside for quite a while. I wasn't concerned about food. I had plenty on hand that didn't require cooking, had lots of warm clothing and blankets. But no TV, no computer, and I'd forgotten to get the right batteries for my radio. No cordless phones, but I still have an old land phone that was working. It rang early, and that was Lisa. She has gas heat and stove, but there was no way to get out of our houses then. I could only open either door a couple of inches, and could see what the street was like.

At 9: o'clock I got a call from the Township, saying a State of Emergency had been declared (No kidding!), stay off the streets, and giving numbers to call if you needed help or to go to a shelter. A few minutes later there was a knock at my door. Couldn't believe anyone had got through the mess out there. It was Lisa. After digging herself out, she had started on my walk. She was joined by another neighbor - the worst one on the block, whom none of us want anything to do with. See! There is good in everyone. Lisa invited me to her house, but I declined. I still didn't believe I might not be able to stick it out. And I didn't think I could make it that far in the conditions out there anyway.

A little later she called me again. She had learned that Cape May City was powerless, all of Wildwood, etc. Garden State Parkway was closed down. State Police had even stopped Atlantic Electric from driving the Parkway, when they were headed to Cape May to help. Our little neighborhood was pretty low priority. We could be out for days. Lisa urged me to call my son to come get me. Well, I did, but I learned that he couldn't go anywhere. Ironically, Joe repairs generators. His phone was ringing constantly with emergencies. But a big old cedar tree had fallen. Branches were on his truck, and the rest of the tree was lying on his neighbor's roof. Snow had also drifted him in. The only service call he had been able to take was to a local Fire Department, and that only because they had come to get him and take him there.

I phoned our Police Department and told them my story. they were so nice, and promised to call me back. Within a short time, they called, and minutes later a van drove up and a huge officer named Bill picked up my bag and helped me to his van. In case you've ever wondered, here's the view from the back seat of a Police van.

We made a detour through the Villas so that Bill could help another officer on the same sort of mission. Another old lady (Aren't we a pain in the neck?) who couldn't make it to his van through three feet of snow. Between them, they got her there. Bill was pretty grateful that Lisa had shoveled my walk earlier. then we headed for my son's house. That ride normally would have taken ten minutes, tops. This time it went on forever, and the snowy landscape had me disoriented. I don't know how these men managed it all day long and into the night. They are so patient and so kind. And I'm sure their families were sitting home worrying about them.

Once at Joe and Jan's house, it seemed like heaven. Their TV lines were down, under the snow, but that didn't really matter because they use Comcast for TV, phones and internet, and there was no service in their area at all. All three of us had cellphones (though I hadn't remembered my adapter). I never use mine except for emergencies. I think this qualified. We had radio, but not many stations were operating.

Snow continued until 7:30PM, when we all breathed a sigh of relief.

My son and daughter-in-law's home sits on an acre of land. Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, and it looked like a wonderland.

That's his vegetable garden in front of the big tree. You can make out the fence around it.

By some near-miracle, on Saturday, a man had come walking up to their door, saying he could get their fallen tree off the neighbor's roof, and cut up the branches. and this was while the storm was still going on, mind you. They thought he was a little crazy, but found him
hard to turn down. They were also concerned about the two girls who lived in that house, and the possibility of the continuing snow making the whole thing too heavy and caving in the roof. They gave him the OK, and he and another man got the job done, very efficiently.

Then came the hard part - digging out the truck, the car, and clearing paths to the street and in the back to all the bird feeders and to the shed where a tiny stray cat has been living. Here's the outdoor cat, and the two indoor cats inspecting what is going on out there.

I felt almost guilty, staying indoors, warm and comfortable.

He finally freed his truck late on Sunday and spent all of Monday on the road, handling a huge back-up of emergency service calls. He is exhausted and aching, as I'm sure all of those wonderful guys with the fire and police departments, utilities and road departments, must be as well. We get impatient and angry having to wait for service when we are cold and uncomfortable, but we have to realize what it is like for these men.

Power was restored last night to our street, though there are still thousands without it. Jan drove me home this morning. The county roads are deplorable. I don't understand how they have not managed to clear busy intersections after three days. The township has done a better job with local roads, surprisingly.

So, I'm home again. Don't think I'll be using my back deck any time soon.

I am so very grateful to Lisa and the other neighbor, to our Police Department, and to Jan and Joe. Lisa continued to do favors for me all through this. And it couldn't have been easy for her. Aaand - she just showed up yet again to shovel my walk clean in anticipation of the 18" expected tomorrow.

Yes, by the way, you probably have heard, we're expecting another storm all day Wednesday. Please God, we don't lose power again!


Unknown said...

What an ordeal! Living in New England almost my whole life, I think I've only seen maybe two state of emergency situations due to snow. And we get a lot of snow. Or used to.

I'm glad for the warmth and comfort you had and the lovely people that made it possible.

Glad you're back and fine as a fiddle!

blah said...

Those are some great pictures. It's always so amazing to me how much a heavy snow changes everything. Charge up your cell phone while you take a nap. And does this mean i have to forgive the police dept. for all those speeding tickets? and stop signs tickets? and seats belt tickets?

Lisa (Mountain Photog) said...

You've had quite the adventure, Bobbie! And with more snow on the way, the adventure may continue! Your story reminds me of the big blizzard we had a few years back--we had 8 feet of snow and had to snowshoe to our neighbors' homes. It was exhausting shoveling all that snow but being snowed in for seven days was kind of nice. :)

Daryl said...

What an adventure... I got fa-klempt reading about Lisa and those amazing police and fire people .. and Joe. Bless his heart and hard work... and the not so nice neighbor ... amazing and touching ... you deserve more than a t-shirt that's for sure .. xoxoxox

Rambling Woods said...

Oh my gosh..what an ordeal for you, your family and everyone..I am glad you are all safe Bobbie...

dianasfaria.com said...

wow! thanks for sharing your adventure story. You've really been hit hard with the snow.
We've been really lucky here in LI, this is only our second blizzard.
I'm glad your pipes didn't freeze Bobbie.
& that was sweet to hear about the not so nice neighbor turning nice enough to lend a hand!