Hurricane Sandy: Tree Before, No Tree After

Before Hurricane Sandy storm hit hard

Hurricane Sandy - street as the storm began to blow

Here is my street last Monday, as Hurricane Sandy had begun to blow its winds but still hadn’t damaged Highland Park, NJ. Note the tall maple tree on the left. Little did I know that this series would be the last time I would record that tree in an upright position. You can see photos of the maple tree on past blog posts.

sandy street
You can see the skies are gray, and all is wet, but unless you listened to the news you would have no inkling this was the beginning of a devastating storm. And behind the car on the left you can see the full grace of the tree that would soon be no more.

I like taking photos of the foliage each fall. This one of the block before the storm will have to do. See, at this point we were hoping that the storm wouldn’t be a big deal after all. Well, you can’t be right all the time.

neighbor during Hurricane Sandy
I wasn’t the only one outside at this point. You can see one of my neighbors crossing the street in the far left of this shot.

live wires
At the other end of my block, all looks peaceful, right? Currently, four days later, there are still down live wires in front of the house with the white fence. It is difficult to enter our block by car, because we have live wires at both ends. Hope they fix it soon. The PSE&G truck just sat there in front of the live wires today.

During the Storm

backyard tree falls
The night of the storm, Monday night from about 4 pm to 11 pm, was really, really scary. If you weren’t scared, then you were a master of denial, which can be quite helpful at times like these. I was watching this tree in my neighbor’s backyard (see the tree above in photo day after storm that is now broken off and leaning) sway back and forth, back and forth. I decided it was less scary to watch the swaying tree than to look at pictures of the devastated Jersey Shore on my computer. We still had power at that point, but we lost it a bit before 9 pm.

After Hurricane Sandy storm hit hard – the morning after – Hurricane Sandy Trees

storm tree down
I woke up the morning after the storm and went to explore. Uh, oh, the big tree a few doors down was no longer up. Luckily, it had hit only a lamppost and had injured no person nor any house.

fallen tree in the storm

storm journalist
Many were taking photos, including this young reporter who has just started her journalism career with her school newspaper. She is unsure whether she wants to focus on photography, drawing or writing for the newspaper. This photographing of the down tree is a good start.

Crews have finally begun to remove parts of the down tree – it is now cut into pieces, and one can pass through on one side of the road with a car.

tree fell on house
We were lucky on our block about where the big tree fell. These homeowners were not so fortunate. This giant old tree hit wires and their house. I saw another house in Edison that had a corner of the house chopped off by a fallen tree.
big tree on N. 8th
Not to feel left out, North 8th had its own adventure with this giant tree. Looks like the tree barely missed the house (but I could be wrong about that).

north fifth damage
Finally, here is why North Fifth still does not have power. The library, where many in our community would go when power goes down, is still closed. And my friends on North Fifth are cold, as are North Tenth, Dennison and a good part of the South side by South Adelaide. We had our power restored on Wednesday evening at about 6 pm – wow, was that a happy time for us.

Lessons Learned: Count Your Blessings

Thankful for my family. Thankful for no damage to our property. Thankful for fabulous, helpful, friendly neighbors. Thankful for smart phones existing and for car radios. And for heat in cars. And the fact that our stove burners worked even if our crockpots, rice cooker, warming tray, toaster, oven, dishwasher, washing machine, computers, lamps, coffee grinder and pencil sharpener did not (daughter asked, after we lost power: how will we sharpen pencils? I replied: we have some artsy pencil sharpeners upstairs that will work. We never did do any art work during the lack of power period).

The Jersey Shore communities are not so fortunate. More on this topic in a later post.

I plan to include this post in next week’s Nature Notes.

UPDATE: Part Two: Many Problems Post Hurricane Sandy (please read and share)

23 thoughts on “Hurricane Sandy: Tree Before, No Tree After

    • Me, too, although I’m quite anxious about my in-laws. They are elderly, without power, and my father-in-law is housebound. Scary. The Jersey Shore in general is a mess.

  • Good photo essay. A big tree across the street from me came down, but, thankfully, the tree in front of my house did not. Seeing all the trees down all over town, I realize we really dodged a bullet. I also feel incredibly grateful for good friends and neighbors (and btw, thanks, Leora!). I just want my power back on . . . .

    • Wow! I’m glad to hear that you are B”H fine and hope that your in-laws are okay too. Thanks for sharing these powerful pictures. (And LOL about the pencil sharpener… 🙂 )

      Laura – Any word when your power is supposed to come back on?

      • Some people are compiling lists of all areas of Highland Park still without power. I am hosting a friend without power – lots of people doing unexpected hosting.

        One house in particular, the one above with the tree on it, is in dire straits. They have not yet fixed the live wires.

  • Thank goodness you are all safe. Your thankfulness is most definitely correct. Your priorities of family safety, etc., is spot on.

    The photos are spine chilling and dramatic.

    Take care, be well.

  • Glad you have the attitude you have and that you and your family are fine. Count my blessings I live in a part of the world where we don’t have hurricans.

    • We have never, ever had one this bad. Usually, a few people lose power. A few basements flood. It gets fixed in a week, and people move on. Not this time.

  • Your neighborhood looks like ours did years ago when straight line winds (essentially a tornado) tore up South West Michigan. It is good to know that you are well and recovering.

  • Thanks for posting these pics, Leora, and for letting us know you and your family are OK.

    The power of nature is amazing. One time during a massive thunderstorm a 40-foot evergreen tree in our yard was hit by lightning and split right down the middle! We were so grateful that it fell away from the house rather than toward it.

    Let’s hope nature doesn’t have any other surprises for the us this year. I think the world has seen enough to remind us of her power!

  • This is such a good post Leora. I think a visual history is incredibly powerful and especially combined with your narrative. I laughed out loud about the pencil sharpener! So pleased you all made it through. It really must have been incredibly scary. Thank goodness you weren’t flooded and as you say for good neigbors. I hope your power is back on. 🙂

    • Our power came back last Wednesday (so only two short days out). A few are STILL without power. Hopeful they will resolve these problems soon. I was really worried about my in-laws, but their lights came on last night. Phew.

  • I am so grateful you were spared and I feel greatly for the ones that weren’t. The picture certainly help us all the understand what the aftermath was like. Mother-nature will do what she desires whether we like it or not. These kinds of events certainly do remind us of that, don’t they?

  • Hello, Leora, I am so glad you are safe and had no damage to your property. Your photos do look awful for your neighbors though. I can not imagine why they would leave the live wires. That sounds scary. Take care and I wish you a great week!

    • Over one week later and the live wires are still there. I suppose it is a difficult job (live wires entangled in an old, very heavy tree), and there are easier ones for them to solve. But it is hardly pleasant at all – it effects the high school and the library as well as many homes (many to us, not many to PSE&G).

  • I can only imagine what other places would look like after viewing your pictures. Really glad you and your family are ok. Please take care and have a great week!

    • As of yesterday, I think Highland Park is finally all powered up. Rural areas have it harder – if a tree hit a line and it only fixes one house to fix that line, it goes lower on the list.

      Where my sisters-in-laws live, in Far Rockaway and on Long Island, the delays have been really long. Not sure what is going on there.

      PSE&G in Central New Jersey, with the help of guys from Florida and Canada, have done a fairly good job, considering the unprecedented mess.

  • For those of us who are life-long hurricane fanatics, the hours of 4-11 pm on October 29 were not scary; they were otherworldly and thrilling. I went out for two walks during the day and then stayed outside on the front porch to watch the show. I never would want anyone to get hurt or for trees to be lost, but there is something dramatic and beautiful about about these storms that is beyond words.

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