Our colleague and Long Island resident Diana Scheben describes how she and her neighbors survived Hurricane Sandy.
We waited out Sandy back at my mom’s, this time with my husband’s three Rhacodactylus leachianus geckos—a big, homely mated pair and their tiny, vulnerable offspring—among our entourage. Mom was happy to take in the humans and the cats but couldn’t even look at the lizards. So as soon as we were able, we turned over care of the geckos to a trusted expert, my brother-in-law, who owns a reptile store.
Mom lost power on the first day of the storm; 11 days and a freak snowstorm later, she still doesn’t have it back. But as soon as the rain let up after Sandy, my husband shut down the main and back-fed her panel to a Honda generator we’ve owned since our wet-basement days. Mom was nervous about it, but her electrician neighbor signed off on my husband’s work.
My husband’s a businessman, but he trained to be an engineer and still thinks like one. His serial hobbies are a case in point. We didn’t just have a fish tank when my son was small; we had a coral reef tank, and my husband bred rare tropicals. When he took up wildlife photography, he got good enough, very quickly, to have several photos published in a how-to book on wildlife photography. When he needed a more powerful system to process his photos, he built one. When he lost his executive job last year, he started a business that makes the best of his photography, computing, and sales and marketing skills, and it was going gangbusters until Sandy forced a sabbatical.
My husband used the good photography equipment to document our losses. Here's the panel from our old gas burner.
The one skill he’s never mastered is plumbing. He can sweat a pipe, sort of, but he couldn’t figure out how to cut the gas feed to the house before we evacuated for Sandy. So as we listened to the radio reports of the house explosions just a stone’s throw from our place, my chief storm-related worry was that we’d return home to six front steps and a chimney.
That’s why I was so grateful when we finally got back home and discovered that the floodwaters had given way to a tide of workmen who were already restoring our devastated neighborhood. Turns out, most of our neighbors knew a guy—a guy who knew what he was doing and who wouldn’t hose us, because he was tight with someone on the block.
The flood-remediation guys were at work across the street. The plumbers and electricians were at work next door. Both crews came to our place later in the day, verified our flood insurance, and started returning us to normalcy.