Last Monday about this time, we were checking updates on the National Hurricane Center website as the winds continued to pick up. The latest predictions showed Hurricane Sandy going directly over us.
We'd been out on Saturday to purchase some last minute non-perishable foods like granola bars and crackers in case the power went out as it often does in these large storms. The atmosphere was festive at the grocery store in the early morning, but as the day wore on, shoppers reported bare shelves—no bottled water to be found.
On Sunday the ward requested that we check in with our home and visiting teaching families to make sure they were ready for the storm, and then afterwards to see if anyone needed help.
The school district cancelled school for Monday, so the children were home for the first day of what turned into an unexpected week-long vacation. We coped with the stress by cooking and baking homemade chicken noodle soup, wheat bread, pumpkin pies, and chocolate chip cookies.
By Monday evening the storm sounded like a train passing. Our home is surrounded by about twenty large oak trees, so we were concerned about how they would do. The power was flickering and dimming and finally it went off altogether about 10:00 p.m. It came back on at 3:30 in the morning, and we were very happy about that since many people in this area had their power off for days, and some people still are without power.
On Monday night a ward member noted on Facebook that a tree had blown over on their car, so on Tuesday my husband and older boys helped the scout troop clean that up, and since we had power and a dry basement and an intact roof we were able to help with various community needs. Some people had power and generators, so they loaned the generators to people without power. The school district cancelled school each day since schools were without power and many roads were impassable in the district.
Much of the damage is cleaned up in the immediate area—we spent all day Saturday cleaning up our yard—but it's still shocking to drive around the area and see the immense fallen trees, power line damage, and debris lining the streets.
Our trip to church yesterday was rather complicated due to road closures and downed power lines. The county where the church is located—a half-hour drive from our house—was much harder hit than our county. And there was one topic of conversation at church: the storm.
Most of us in this immediate area are doing fine, but it's gotten quite cold and many people in coastal New Jersey and New York were much harder hit. The Church and many other organizations are organizing relief efforts: helping with clean-up, helping at shelters, and so forth, and our local congregations are participating now that the members mostly have things cleaned up and are recovering from the extended power outages.