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My Sandy experience November 10, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, DVD, Health, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, TV, Weather.

The nightmare known as Hurricane (or Superstorm) Sandy was thrust upon my attention on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 24, hours before seeing pianist David Benoit perform at the Iridium Jazz Club. The first report I read about the storm had a few scenarios, which included turning east out to sea and taking a sharp westerly turn toward the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S, combining with an approaching cold front. By the second report, the latter scenario became more likely. With each passing report, until it made landfall in South New Jersey on the evening of October 29, more and more models showed that worst case scenario. And with each passing report, I grew more and more paranoid and fearful of what would happen.

Sandy was so large that its effects were first felt through cloud cover on Saturday, October 27. The following day, October 28, showers and minor wind gusts began.  I couldn’t stand hearing the wind plowing into the windows and wall from my Wantagh home’s east-facing bedroom. So, I slept in the basement that night.

When I woke up early on October 29, the worst still hadn’t arrived, but the wind was still strong, around 30 miles per hour with gusts in the 50s. Somehow, the power did not go out during the morning. By 1:30 PM, the power began to flicker off and on, and at 1:45, the power went out to stay and wouldn’t return until nine days later. Back in the basement, as the wind continued to howl upstairs, now approaching sustained winds of 45 mph with gusts to 60, I used my Sennheiser studio headphones to listen to audiobooks on my CD-playing Walkman. But spoken words were unable to completely drown out the sound of wind. So, rather than waste battery power on my iPod, I used the Walkman, which runs on AA batteries, to listen to music. I took two pairs of CDs that I used for my two recent WCWP Homecoming Weekend shows and a dozen albums. When I wasn’t listening to news radio for the latest on Sandy, or sports radio to forget about Sandy, I was listening to my CDs.

My parents, sister, and I were prepared with plenty of bottled water, bags of food, canned goods, AA batteries, C batteries, D batteries, and a generator. We didn’t use the generator until after the height of Sandy, which came around 8PM, shortly after it transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone. While the worst winds pummeled the house, gusting as high as 85 mph, we congregated in the living room where an extension cord ran from the generator in the backyard to the middle of the room. There, I plugged in a power strip and we plugged in a table lamp for light, and all our rechargeable electronics.  For a time, we watched DVDs on my sister’s laptop. After a couple of hours, my dad turned off the generator and we all went to sleep. I returned to the basement for that.

Outside of a tree falling in my next-block neighbor’s back yard, two shingles falling off our roof, a toppled-over garbage pail on the side of the house, and branches and leaves on the grass, I was clueless about the extent of damage in my area. But a tree fell a block east of our house, which is why our power went out, and a few trees fell one block north and west.

At around 11AM on October 30, I walked around the exterior of my house to take aftermath pictures.

I began at my front patio, worked my way around the house, and then to the curb:

The pails on the west side of the house:

I fixed the pail that blew over about half an hour before taking pictures.

The container that covered the gas cans for generator fuel blew off:

When the power strip wasn’t connected to the extension cord, either the microwave or coffee maker were plugged in.

I turned this table upside down on Sunday and removed the tiles, stacking them on the ground near the wall:

The tile-less table was moved slightly by the high winds.

There had been a tree in the center of this empty space:

Part of it fell into our back yard:

Or it may have been from this tree which fell at around 6:00 the night before:

I was in the basement listening to a CD on my Walkman and could hear my dad in the kitchen saying “Tree down!”

You can barely see a tree down up the road to the east:

To the west, a utility poll was slanted (not visible in pic):

A week later, my sister took the following pictures on our street from east to west:

As bad as things looked on our block, the absolute worst hit areas were waterfront communities. Main floors and basements were destroyed. House and building fires that started after flooding began couldn’t be contained and had to burn out. Knowing all this gave me survivor guilt. I felt guilty that my house was hardly damaged and all I lost was power, while my friends in places like South Freeport, Baldwin Harbor, Island Park, Long Beach, Lido Beach, and Massapequa lost everything that wasn’t on the second floor or higher. The Rockaways and Staten Island were hit just as hard.

An example of how hard Freeport was hit can be seen in this video of damage to the Nautical Mile (Woodcleft Avenue), via The Weekly Freeporter YouTube channel:

Guilt aside, I developed cabin fever after two days at my powerless house (outside of generated power). So, on the night of Halloween, after riding out Tuesday night in my increasingly cold bedroom, I made the trip to a family friend’s house in Rockville Centre (power had just returned after only two days). I would spend the next week there while power was out at home. Of all the times for power to come back, on the afternoon of November 7, it was as a wet snow-producing nor’easter began to affect the Northeast. Unlike Sandy, however, the center of this nor’easter was far offshore and the winds were not too strong on Western Long Island. The wet snow bent but somehow did not break tree limbs, and it gradually melted or fell off the following day.

While power returned on November 7, cable did not come back until two days later.

After experiencing the March 2010 Nor’easter, Irene, and now Sandy, I can only hope that it’s a very long time before another major storm of Sandy’s magnitude hits the East Coast.

We’ll conclude this post with a few pictures in Rockville Centre on November 7 as snow began to accumulate…

…and a picture on November 8, hours after shoveling the driveway at home:

Laura Donovan: The Domino Effect Of Hurricane Sandy: Why One Natural Disaster Changed Everything For Me (dead link as of 10/29/18)
Peter Hoare: How Hurricane Sandy Ravaged My Town (Long Beach)

11/13 UPDATE: Yesterday, I walked my street from east to west to get a close look at the cut-up downed trees, and the damage caused by them:

As I took this last shot, Town of Hempstead sanitation trucks were making their way up the street to remove debris:



1. Robin - November 11, 2012

So do you believe global warming may be in play?

Mike C. - November 11, 2012

No. As far as October storms go, it’s the equivalent of Hurricane Hazel in 1954, even though that was much more intense at landfall in North Carolina.

2. Jesse Pohlman - November 13, 2013


I just wanted to say thanks for giving us proper credit over at The Weekly Freeporter, for our work during Hurricane Sandy. I decided to do some random Google searching tonight, and I’m always surprised at where my stuff ends up.

Look us up on Facebook, I’d love to chat!

My warmest regards,
–Jesse Pohlman

3. Jesse Pohlman - November 13, 2013


I’m not sure if my first attempt at a comment went through, so here goes a second one. I wanted to thank you for using The Weekly Freeporter’s footage with proper credit. We’re proud to have been able to help Freeport out during that time, and I’m always left surprised at where our work ends up.

Hit me up on Facebook, I’d love to chat.

My warmest regards,
–Jesse Pohlman

4. Mike C. - November 14, 2013

You’re very welcome, Jesse. Thank you for your work during and after Sandy.

Your comments didn’t go through right away because comments are moderated here. Sorry about that.

I added you on Facebook.

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