ON this Day: ‘ Recollections of Riding Out a Natural Once in a Century Disaster ‘

Three years ago today l was to experience the most life changing event – surviving Hurricane Sandy. This is my story and recollections of what occurred on that day in 2012.

The water appears suddenly where the walls and floor meet. You look and see about two inches of cold salt water. Then instantly another three feet of water is inside the house.

Everything upend’s and is floating. A thud, followed by a second thud, as the front and rear doors of the house are opened, locks are man’s devices of foolishness, and everything that you own in life is swept from the house as tide and current are now in command of you and the house. It is only the beginning of a ten-hour storm.

My storm, lasted three-and-a half days, and Superstorm Sandy was met by a Nor’Easter. The water turned icy cold. Ten-and-a-half feet above the flood tide mark, about one foot under the roof sofit. You float and try to stand while current pushes you around like a rag doll in a child’s hand vigorously shaking you.

It taught me what torpedoed sailors felt like in the vortex of a dying ship in the cold waters. My tethered boat with survival gear awaiting for my decision to abandon should the roof crack and dislodge, rope safety lines to follow as my upper body strength is great, but my decision was to ride it out, my preparations and words were given to my wife who did very well.

My dog-tags around my neck: 

Identification and next of kin written and placed under the insole of my boot. My name and data written on my skin but that too was taken away by the sea. When the storm was in the calm eye, I locate a semi-floating bottle of Cabernet and I grasp two long-stem wine glasses and pour the wine. Looking at the full moon and black ocean around, my wife says that I am crazy, but few enjoy a good glass of wine under such circumstances.

In my family, I am the only one, born during a hurricane, and it remains with me to be my guide and strength. Then the eye closes and the reverse winds are here, along with another rise in tide and current, inside of what is left of my home, a lifetime of work, given to the sea, and I am forged as steel with renewed strength. Weaker hurricanes we have seen, and had my grandsons with us to teach them and toughen them to life on the oceanfront, but the greater storms such as Sandy, was an obligation to something inside of us to ride out, as we who live at the edge of the sea, do not run. It is not in our character.

Post Script:

As a postscript, most people do not have any idea of the impact, nor the fact that we were without natural gas for weeks, and electric service, fortunately, I threw the main circuit breaker early and saved my wiring. Electric crews (from Maryland) restored power the day after Thanksgiving, on November 23, 2012, as our street was one of the last and final streets without power due to the extent of damage caused to overhead electrical cables. Since the event.., locally, many people view me, as a sort of “Robert Shaw – JAWS” type of character.
“Ian, put up another barrel.” 😉


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