Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sandy...the Storm

The Saw Mill Parkway was closed. Then again, when is it not? (RA photo)
It was a year ago today that Hurricane and, eventually, Superstorm Sandy hit the metropolitan New York area.

I wrote about the experience here - a surreal day that left me largely unscathed and lucky.

By the way, don't bother following the the link in that post for the Simi Sara show. It no longer works. Ms. Sara still does a show there, and she was wonderful to talk to. I have the audio of those appearances in my collection.

What I remember about the day are bits and pieces. I remember seeing if the station needed me that night (and they thought my being there would be a good thing). It was, after all, a Monday, so I was ostensibly coming in to do The Press Box.

Kato, CJ, and Ryan all stayed home. I can't even imagine what the night would have been like had they all come in. As we found out hours later, travel was very much discouraged. Jim Fischer (Campbell) was told to not even bother to try to get to his house in Greenwich by a cop who stopped in around 11:30 that night.

I remember pulling my stuff together and stopping at Subway for lunch - other than a Nature Valley bar, it  was the last thing I would eat. The ladies in there said that they would be open for a little longer after I left. They also didn't seem very chatty.

Things were calm at WGCH when I first got there. Yes, the calm before the storm. Then Mary Anne DeFelice called to say that she wouldn't be doing her show at 3:00 that day.

I stepped in, and it was game on. At first I tried to do business as usual. Talk about general things.  The pendulum would swing as the day went along, and by the time Darby Cartun left at 6:00, we were into full storm mode.

I remember being chided after I got off the air for not saying that the storm had been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm (or superstorm) when I was on. I remember hearing that as Tony Savino, Bob Small, Jim, and I stood in a dark office just after the power went out.

I also remember that I did say that it was downgraded on the air. Such is life.

I remember phone calls - many of them. We took note of each outage that they reported. We reported as much as each caller passed along, and avoided rumors. We kept an eye on the power maps from the various companies.

I remember hearing about the big fire in Greenwich, near the water.

I remember not blowing up my air mattress, in part because I saw that Jim and Tony didn't have one, and I thought that would be obnoxious to me. Then, when we all called it a night, I couldn't blow mine up because power was out and batteries were dead.

I tossed and turned all night. The only thing still lit was a traffic light at the corner of Lewis and Mason Streets, just outside the studio. It ran on a backup for a short time until it, too, died.

I think, in the heart of the storm, I stepped outside once. I wanted to see what it was like. I'm sort of like that. I also wanted to make sure my car hadn't been damaged. I parked in a spot that kept it close to the building, and that was a conscious decision.

I sat around the office with Tony and Jim, and Bob eventually came in. I felt helpless and useless so I decided to head for home.

I remember a rumor that Dunkin Donuts was open on Putnam Ave (that's US 1, by the way). But indeed, that was a rumor.

Trees were down all over Greenwich as I started to drive home. Interstate 95 was technically closed, but nobody was stopped from entering the road. Best as I could tell, nobody was going to pull me over, but I kept my press credential handy in case. Traffic was very light.

The Saw Mill Parkway was closed at "the Hawthorne Circle," as old-timers still call it (it was once a traffic circle and was built into an interchange right around when I was born). Then again, the Saw Mill closes in a misty rain.

I remember there wasn't too much to clean in the yard when I got home. We were spared, and lucky. However, we had no power. Still, a very small price to pay.  I had enough battery power to keep the radios and flashlights going, and daylight gave me enough to keep things light.

I remember pacing in the yard as I spoke with Simi Sara on CKNW. Unless I'm sitting down, I tend to pace when I'm on the phone. Something about the movement, I guess.

I read. I'm pretty sure it was Marty Appel's pretty brilliant Pinstripe Empire. I might have finished it.

I remember telling myself that, if I needed to charge anything, I could jump in my car. Gas wasn't an issue...yet. We had some issues up our way but, ultimately, we got off easy, at least at first. I recall going to Lisa's eventually, and then seeing stations - even up near Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park, without gas. Still, it was nothing compared to other areas.

According to my post from last year, the power came back late in the night of October 30. Apparently around 11:00 or so. I remember doing what anyone does when power comes back: running around and fixing clocks, and turning off things that were left on.

Then I turned on the TV and looked at how lucky we were by comparison.

I remember there wasn't a football game to broadcast for a while. In fact, it was almost two weeks before high school football was played again in Connecticut.

In areas along the Hudson River, the Atlantic Ocean, and Long Island Sound, the destruction was intense. In lower Manhattan, there was flooding, especially down at the Battery. Places like Breezy Point and points along the Jersey Shore was devastated.

In New York City, the plan was to still hold the New York City Marathon, until smarter heads prevailed and realized that it was, simply, wrong.

Of course, there was loss of life as well.

I remember so much of it. Yet I can't say I remember it all.

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