A Close Call

It happened again. After Hurricane Irene, we thought we wouldn’t see another major storm in the Northeast for a long time. Then the forecast showed Sandy, calling it names like “Frankenstorm”, “Storm of the Century” and “The Perfect Storm”.   After the damage we suffered a year ago at Irene’s hands, I thought we’d be safe and better prepared.  After all, we made it through 2011 with Irene and Winter Storm Alfred, and the major ice storms and blizzards of 2010.  Who knew Mother Nature could show such wrath to the tri-state area with Sandy!  The Suburban Farmgirl and her family are thanking their lucky horseshoes for surviving such a close call!

Our house is surrounded by woods on three sides.  In Connecticut, where there’s big trees, they’re BIG TREES, towering overhead like menacing giants.  In hurricane Irene, we had several huge trees snap and twist like toothpicks, so we felt  this time around, we’d be okay, that the weakest ones had already fallen.

Farmgirls are like Girl Scouts:  we’re prepared!  I baked lasagna, Greek-style macaroni and cheese (delicious cold),  washed and cut up fresh veggies and fruit, and filled as many containers as possible with water.  We stocked up on toilet paper, cold cuts, and other groceries, and put away anything outdoors that was out including plants and furniture. We made sure we had plenty of gas for the generator, got candles ready, and put all our flashlights and batteries in a basket.  We took the mattress from the guest room down to the basement, making a cozy bed with hand embroidered pillowcases and a comfy quilt.  We set up games and books. All our pets  moved down to our “bunker”: dog, three cats, two fish and four hermit crabs. Our animals all acted strangely days before the hurricane hit; Bonnie ate her usual bowl of dog food in the morning – only to continue tossing the empty bowl at me wanting refills, until I finally cut her off, fearing she might pop. (Several friends told me their fur-babies were doing the same thing).  I packed a suitcase, in case of evacuation.  I made sure all the laundry was washed, and the house was clean and neat.  It’s easier and more efficient to find your way around in the dark without clutter, and we’d have plenty of clean clothes to last should we find ourselves without the ability to do washing for a long stretch of time.

I took this photo at our local grocer’s the afternoon before Sandy hit.  This is the bread aisle, usually stocked to the hilt.

When Sandy started, it seemed more like a big Nor’easter than the monster promised on the news.   We were able to warm up some lasagna and eat a nice dinner before finally losing power around seven pm, and heading downstairs.  By nine, though, it was sounding ugly.  By eleven, we were scared to death, and the three of us and the dog  all huddled together.  We heard a loud crash to our right.  A few moments later, we heard an even louder crash to our left, and our mattress literally lifted off the ground.  The storm seemed to last a lifetime, and the powerful, angry wind was like nothing I’ve ever heard.  As I lay there in the dark clutching my daughter in my arms and praying,  I tried not to think  the worst, but feared it could happen.

When daylight and calm finally came, we emerged from our cocoon.  Our hearts stopped as we realized how grateful we should be for the very close call we experienced… mere inches away from major destruction of our home and property.

Two giant  trees fell between the propane tank and the stone wall bordering the driveway, missing the house by inches.  If it had fallen a smidgen more left, it would have destroyed our deck, our dining room, both cars,and scariest, could have affected where we were, possibly injuring us. It just missed my husband’s car,  hitting the stone wall (there’s no damage, amazingly), and grazing but not hurting the little wooden bench.

The damage to the stone wall was minimal…just a few stones to be repaired in the spring.

My hubby looks so small compared to the tree…and he’s 6’3!  Here he’s lamenting the chainsaw stuck while cutting us a path out to the driveway.

The crash we’d heard to the right was another felled tree, landing between the shed and trailer cart, narrowly missing the shed by less than an inch. It missed the pool and my daughter’s swing set.  It’s so big and heavy, there’s a crater in the earth where it lays.  We’ll be kept in firewood forever!  My brother, upon seeing the photos, said it looked “as if God himself laid those trees down”, and everyone is astonished at how lucky we were!  The only damage suffered was my new  compost bin, a $30 investment, now  flat as a pancake, and an inch-thick piece of deck railing shaved off by the tree.

How close this big guy came to our shed!  Can you believe it? RIP, compost bin. How lucky were we?

This is the only piece of the deck damaged – just a sliver off the railing. The massive tree, had it fallen a few inches left, could have destroyed my home and possibly injured us.

By Thursday night, we had our power restored, and my husband and I remarked that the simpler life we’ve lived the past few years made it easier for us to prepare and deal with any  inconveniences brought by the storm. We are truly blessed, and know we have a guardian angel!

Despite no power, we didn’t let Sandy ruin our Halloween spirit.  It was the second year in a row a storm cancelled Halloween. Our community rallied together for the kids.  One shopping center  did trick or treating, and our hometown rescheduled the annual Main Street trick-or-treat event for the following Sunday.

So many in the surrounding areas are not so lucky.  One brave firefighter in Connecticut lost his life when a tree fell on him while responding to a call, and many, including children, lost their lives to drowning or trees.  So many are homeless, without anything left, or lost their loved ones. There’s hunger and cold from Sandy’s destruction.  It’s unimaginable, but a horrific reality.  My husband still has a job in New York to go to, while many businesses are completely washed away.  We’re looking into ways we can help our New York neighbors, as we’re so grateful we were spared.

So if you’re able to read this blog, you’re blessed!  Do me a favor…hug your kids.  Call your parents and friends. Tell them you love them.  Be thankful.

We’re now fine at my house, but almost two weeks later, many we know still do not have power. Nine inches of snow fell on Wednesday (thankfully warmer temps are on the way). Gas is being rationed in New York as well as New Jersey. Those who commute are finding their drive hours longer due to traffic and gas lines. Folks are cold, worried, and stressed. Keep the Northeast in your prayers.

  1. Adrienne says:

    So glad to hear you and your family made it through the storm safely and the damage was confined to an area where you can handle its effects. Bless you all.

    Thank you, Adrienne!  – Nicole

  2. DrMolly says:

    Of Course! You have all been in my prayers since the beginning.

    Thank you, every prayer matters! – Nicole

  3. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Dear Nicole,
    After reading this very well done blog, I feel you have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day! You still have your beautiful healthy child, your lives and your home. I would say a very big prayer to God, who was watching over all of you. I was your Girl Scout leader, so I must have been a good one, because you were very prepared!

    Love you, always,Mother

    Thanks, Momma!  I can still hear you telling me to "Be Prepared!" Much love, Nicole

  4. Natalie says:

    Wow, it does indeed look as if God himself laid that tree down. So glad to hear you are safe. ~Natalie at Tasha Tudor and Family, Inc.

    Thank you, Natalie!  It truly amazes me how close the trees were.  We are so blessed, and on the bright side, have lots of firewood.  -Nicole PS: Oh, I am such a fan of all things "Tasha Tudor".  She was so amazing!

  5. meredith (hereford girl) says:

    Hi Nicole! So glad you and your family and home are ok. Friends of ours in Stratford, Ridgefield, and Southbury made it through as well- but so many are still living in a nightmare. Our family is praying for all those who have a long road ahead of them to get back to some semblance of normal.
    Would love to hear sometime about the things your family has done to live a simpler life that made storm preparations easier. We could all use help in that department!
    Thanks for your great blog as usual!
    Your fellow Yankee in Va- Meredith

    Hi Meredith!  So glad to hear your friends are all okay!  Thank you for the writing suggestion…you got it, will do.  Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

  6. CR LaGroue says:

    I’m glad you wrote about the storm y’all had. I can truly relate. Being down here in southeast Texas, hurricane season keeps us on our toes…As a first responder we not only see all of the devastation, but we are victims too. The destruction not only sends us back to living in the stone age, it has psychological effects on everyone. We don’t appreciate the luxuries we have till we lose them. Even today I have a hard time tossing out ice cubes after having a beverage. It sends me back to when you could not have anything cold. I hope the people effected by that storm recover quickly.

    So true, and so well said.  Thank you for the reminder, and thank you to all the first responders out there who, like you, risk your lives to help others.  – Nicole

  7. bonnie ellis says:

    Nicole: Our prayers have been for all in the storms. God has blessed you with little damage. What a great Thanksgiving present.Thank you for letting us know we should be all prepared for whatever comes.

    Thank you, Bonnie.  Yes, our Thanksgiving gives us so much to be thankful for.  My heart goes out to those who have lost so much.  – Nicole

  8. Joan says:

    I am so happy to hear from you – sure been praying for you and all around you. We are starting to think more about having a PREPAREDNESS room in our basement – oh we have this n that but you really gave me lots of ideas of other things to have. I thank God all is well with you and will continue to pray for the others. God Bless.

    Joan, how sweet.  Thank you, your comment warms my heart.  – Nicole

  9. Jody says:

    This made me cry. I’m so glad that you and your family are safe from harm’s way, so sad to hear of all those that weren’t so fortunate. Many prayers said, many prayers needed. Thanks for sharing.

    Jody, thank you for your comment.  It is mind-boggling, the damage, but the Northeast is filled with strong people who don’t give up! -Nicole

  10. Valerie O'Sullivan says:

    How fortunate we are to have power and homes to be in during this holiday season. Viewing your photographs made me think…how crazy this storm was and how lucky I am. A few downed trees and a few days without power, is small potatoes compared to what so many people have experienced. I loved seeing your daughter’s photo in among the more chaotic photos. It was just a moment in time that captured autumn’s perfection. I hope that you have a blessed thanksgiving.

    Thank you, Valerie, and Thanksgiving blessings, to you, as well. -Nicole

  11. Rebecca says:

    I am glad that the damage you sustained from Hurricane Sandy is "fixable" and that everyone is okay. I just got back from 30 days in New York working with some of the survivors. The thing that struck me most, was the gratitude of each person that I talked to. Even if they had lost every item they owned, each one of them made it a point to say how blessed or lucky they were that they had their lives, their loved ones, etc. Not everyone was so fortunate because a lot of people did lose their lives and the healing will take a long time. The whole trip has given me a new outlook on life. I am grateful and want to make the most of each day that I have. Happy holidays to you and to your family.

    Rebecca, thank you and Happy holidays to you, too.  God bless you for your work! -Nicole

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