[Jane's Carousel in DUMBO (NY) - photo credit]
Hurricane Sandy really hit our area of Pennsylvania hard around 7pm on Monday night, the winds were unreal. It felt like a tornado was coming our way, trees bending halfway over every time a huge gust hit. Our power flickered a few times, but didn't go out...at first. Finally around 9pm the lights flickered and out went the power. Meanwhile we'd been checking our sump pump because it runs pretty continuously during normal rain storms. We thought the power might come back, and weren't too worried. But the water was slowly rising in the sump pump. We knew we had to do something, so we started bailing water. I would use a plastic pitcher to fill Lowes buckets, we had three in our rotation, while Tim would run them up the stairs and dump them outside. This went on for hours, I think we bailed water for about 4 hours, at a fast pace too. It was exhausting.
At first we were maintaining, but then the water start coming more quickly and we just weren't making any progress. We knew we had to give up so we spent the next hour moving everything from the basement into our living room. Giving up was so depressing, since we knew the basement would be ruined. We did however, at the suggestions of our home inspector, get an additional sump pump rider on our homeowners policy when we bought the house. Probably the best decision we could have made. That inspector will be getting a thank you note from me, that's for sure.
On Tuesday morning we checked the basement in the morning to find the sump pump had overflowed followed by the french drain around the perimeter, in short the carpet was completely soaked everywhere. It was maybe only 2 inches of water, but enough to soak every inch of carpet. Meanwhile most people we knew were out of power as well. Our neighborhood turned into generator city, I swear every other house had a generator. We were definitely not prepared enough, we may have gotten food, water ,and gas for the hurricane, but we should have gotten a generator or battery back-up for the sump pump.
We called our insurance company on Tuesday afternoon to report the damage to the basement, and they referred us to a company who cleans up and rehabs flooded basements. But they couldn't come out to run their fans until we had power. My dad brought their generator up to help us pump some water out for a few hours, which was a big help. Tuesday came and went, and we were so very cold in the house. We had candles going and were using flashlights to get around the house. Our cellphones were waning (we would charge them in our cars), and we needed to shower so we headed to Tim's parents who only lost power for about 12 hours. We plugged in our phones and laptops at their house, and took gloriously hot showers. We then headed back to the house with fingers crossed, but when we got back the house was still pitch black.
On Wednesday we still didn't have power, and the rug in the basement was starting to stink so we made the decision to remove it ourselves. Let me tell you, carrying soaked carpet & carpet padding? Not a good time, they are so heavy. We cut and rolled the scraps of rug up, then duct taped them and put the padding in large contractor grade trash bags. We filled 20 trash bags, and about the same number of carpet rolls. Getting them up the stairs was super daunting. We took a break to drive to my parents, who had gotten power back, and picked up their generator and got a few cups of hot coffee (thanks Mom!). It took forever to drive the normally 45 minutes to their house, trees were down and roads were closed everywhere. We brought the generator back and hooked it up to the sump pump, and cleared it our again and also used it to charge flashlight batteries.
On Thursday a lot of people in our area were getting power back, and they even updated our power restoration estimate to Thursday at 11pm, they'd previously told us 11pm on Sunday. We both had to go back to work, so we were hopeful that it would restored by the time we got home. That was not the case, we got home and the house was still freezing cold and dark. We made the decision around 10pm to take the dog and go sleep at our friend's house whose power had been restored that day, since we'd taken a walk down the the tree on the power lines for our neighborhood and no one was working on it yet.
In the morning we came home around 7am, and our power was back on! I will never take electricity for granted again. We are so lucky to have family & friends that could lend us generators, let us shower and sleep at their warm houses, and charge our electronics. A flooded basement and loss of power is an inconvenience, but I feel so thankful that we did not lose more. There's a house just across from our neighborhood that was sliced clean in half by a tree. We were really lucky all things considered, and that notion is not lost on us. The devastation in New York & New Jersey is heartbreaking. My heart breaks for those who lost family & friends from the devastation of the storm.
P.S. As I was blogging this our power went out again, supposedly it was on purpose as they worked on a tree on a power line. The outage lasted four hours, so we had to plug the fridge into the generator again. I am so ready for life to be back to normal.