“Hurry up and wait!!” Those were the words of my esteemed disaster response director when I worked for the Red Cross. Hurricane Sandy, we’re hurrying up and waiting.
We tried to be smart and prepare early, starting on Saturday. We didn’t prepare as well as we thought, because by Sunday, we were back out again buying supplies. We kind of missed the boat on that one. We hit seven ATMs before we were finally able to get some cash since the machines were out of money. The supermarket was out of bread, water and milk. Gas stations ran out of gas and Home Depot was bare of hurricane supplies like drains, lanterns, batteries and flashlights; though that wasn’t a huge surprise.
Before 3pm ET, we got the call that work in New York City was shut down and the transit system, including the subway, PATH, MTA, and NJ Transit were closing until further notice. Wall Street would not be trading, the first time its closed since September 11, 2001. And we just got word that the Holland Tunnel is also closing this afternoon.
For the last two and half days, we have done our best to secure the house and our belongings. The outdoor furniture was taken inside and the cars were moved into the garage. We sealed the basement to prevent flooding, brought up all our personal items and stacked the washer and dryer on cinder blocks. We cleared all the leaves from gutters nearly three times and stored away the fire wood to make a fire when we lose power. The flashlights have all been tested, the candles are ready to burn and the food and water are stored. We’ve done everything we can to prepare for Sandy.
I have lived in Jersey my whole life and have never seen anything like this. When a snow storm is on its way, of course, the shelves are bare of food and supplies, but that is what we have come to expect. People get nervous and you work to prepare. We laugh about it, saying it’s just a storm, not the end of the world. But this preparation is one that I have yet to experience. Even working in the disaster field, where you see this kind of response more frequently, didn’t prepare me for when it would happen in my own town.
So now what? As our trusted disaster response director Bill used to say, “We hurry up and wait,” for the worst, knowing we prepared as best we could for an impending disaster. Stay safe and heed the warnings my friends.