Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: One Family’s Ordeal



After five days without electricity and heat at my home in Rockland County, New York, things are getting slowly back to normal. But it was painful.  Without the help and support of my wife, son, daughter, friends and family, I would have been up the proverbial creek. 

To be blunt, a quadriplegic alone in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, has no chance to survive. Here’s what happened to us during our ordeal with Hurricane Sandy:

Days 1 and 2: I felt fragile as a disabled person and sorry for myself. Without the basics and comforts of my home, I was helpless. My daughter pleaded with us to stay with her in Boston. We thought it best to stay home, given the logistics of traveling with all my handicapped equipment. I’m also thick-headed.

Knowing I was disabled and stranded, my son’s friends came by in the middle of total darkness and dropped off a pizza and three peperoni rolls.  Mags, Jimmy and I had a candlelight dinner of comfort food that night.

Day 3: It became obvious to me that our utility company, Orange & Rockland Utilities, didn’t plan well enough for this storm. As we listened to our battery-powered transistor radio, we heard residents crying out for help on our county radio station [WRCR], with no response from the utility company on the radio or elsewhere. We heard estimates that it could take up to three weeks for power to be restored.  That estimate frightened us.

One of our local gas stations, Gulf, in Congers, New York, insisted on cash for payment, rather than the credit card my wife presented. And, the National Guard has been called in to assist us.

Day 4: During the week, I alternated from sleeping in my wheelchair or on a mattress placed on my living room floor, adjacent to the front door. Without electricity, I could not use my elevator to get upstairs. My brother-in-law, once his power was restored, eventually was able to drive to my home from Newburgh, New York, and bring us a portable generator to heat our home for a few hours and charge my wheelchair.

Day 5: Gas stations are still without power and there is rationing for fuel. People are fighting for gas and refusing to wait their turn in line. Police are being stationed at various intersections on our roads and gas stations to maintain order.

With power fully restored, my wife and son are putting our house in order. We also believe Mayor Bloomberg did the right thing in reversing his decision to cancel the New York City Marathon - - what the heck was he thinking?

We are now looking at options to help us through future storms - - like generators - - as we just heard reports that another storm, a “Noreaster,” is coming our way on Thursday, November 8.

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