Hurricane Sandy

Tufted Titmouse and Blue Jay

tufted titmouse
A tufted titmouse enjoyed the bird feeder I refilled two days after Hurricane Sandy came and went. I am rather burnt out of talking about post-storm problems, but in quick summary, most of Highland Park now has its power restored. We had wonderful utility workers from Florida who did much of the fixing (PSE&G was maxed out – I understand nearby Edison had workers from Ontario, Canada). So thank you, Florida and Canada. A few homes reportedly did not yet have power, but they’ve been promised fixing by today. We shall see. Meanwhile, back to the birds.

Sandy Storm titmouse

I was pleased to photograph a bird new to me – thank you, Michelle, for identifying the tufted titmouse.
tufted titmouse by the bird feeder

blue jay bird feeder

I’ve been seeing more blue jays recently than I have in the past. No signs of cardinals right now.
blue jay in bird feeder

Help yourself, Mr. Blue Jay.
blue jay by bird feeder

I will try my best to continue filling my bird feeder through the winter.

Noreaster and Power Outages

Hurricane Sandy continues her wrath, even after her winds are long gone. Many in our area suffer power outages: Highland Park, New Brunswick, Piscataway, East Brunswick. Power was restored to some after a week, only to be “taken away” after the latest noreaster (storm of a bit of snow and wind that otherwise would just be a bothersome pain) showed up.

A few photos from the past week:
Abbott Street
A unmarked vehicle guards the house on Abbott Street with the tree wrapped with lives wires.

PSE&G truck
Previously, the trucks would be regular PSE&G vans. But it seems for guarding live wires, they need the vans elsewhere, so now we get these unmarked cars instead. Do you think they will change that motto about ‘Worry Free’? Worry full seems more like a proper description for our area. For the last two days we had a water boil advisory as well and a threat of losing water completely; that one got lifted earlier today.

house on Abbott Street
Here’s another photo of the tree on the top of the house on Abbott which seems to causing many problems in our area. Our library and high school are closed, and too many house have no power.

Looking down Abbott Street
Lots of yellow police tape when you look down Abbott. The live wires are supposedly quite dangerous, so you don’t want to walk near them.

north tenth
Other parts of our borough still have no power, like North Tenth. If you think we don’t have first responders like police and fire showing up, you are wrong – they have been very on site and helpful. Problem is they can’t fix live wires. Nor can tree people.

north ninth
A tree fell on this house on North Ninth Avenue. When I walked by later, the tree was gone, and the roof was patched. They are fortunate that the tree hit no wires.

stop sign on seventh
I hope our neighborhood doesn’t continue to look like this much longer. Greetings recently: “Got power?” “Did you lose power (again)?” “Need an outlet, a warm cup of tea or some wifi?” “Got a plug on your porch?”

Ways to help the too many victims of storm (locally in Central New Jersey):

I was going to finish this post earlier, but we lost power (again) for an hour. Seems the fixit guys are better at breaking the power than fixing it. Hope I don’t post more about a noreaster and power outages. I did photograph some photos of birds earlier this week – possibly for next week’s Nature Notes.

Hurricane Sandy After: Problems, Problems

tree fell on house
Hurricane Sandy brought numerous, numerous, numerous problems. I’ll start with one in Highland Park. This gigantic tree fell on this home by N. 6th and Abbott. It has live wires entangled, so the tree guys can’t yet cut down the tree. The owners are frantic. They have contacted PSE&G and politicians. They are afraid they will lose their home because of a hole in the roof.

Want to help? Contact News 12:
(Or call, email, tweet PSE&G – although unclear how much that will help).

The owner writes:

our 60′ maple tree that fell into our house during the storm, taking down your power lines. It bashed in our eaves, porch roof, and more. Today we went in the house and tried flushing the upstairs toilet and turned on the shower. The water came pouring into our kitchen through a lighting fixture in the ceiling. So obviously we have a sewer pipe broken from where the tree hit the upstairs & first floor bathrooms. PSE&G has not removed the tree yet–it is massive and has a dozen wires entangled in it. PSE&G needs to bring in a crane to remove the tree and the wires before the house can even be tarped. We are assuming that if we get the big storms being predicted for Tues. night into Thurs., the house will be wrecked with water and mold. Right now, because of the holes in the eaves, we have squirrels scurrying above the bedroom ceiling, building a nest up there. This is all so horrifying and preventable, I don’t even know how to cope. Because PSE&G does not consider/care that we may lose our house, we don’t know who to turn to next. It just doesn’t seem right that our house and lives have to be a casualty. We’re looking at possibly months of renovation. We’re looking at ripping out/fixing the bathrooms and kitchen, but if the house doesn’t get tarped, it will be a possibly insurmountable disaster. We’re pretty much in shock and don’t know where to turn. Call PSE&G! They will not listen to us, and have been generally unresponsive in every possible way. The weird thing is, we have power, water, and heat. We’d be happy not to have those things if we could have the tree and wires removed and could start the overhaul of our house, where we’ve lived for 30+ years. I run my business out of my house and don’t know how I’m going to do that, either.

•  •  •

  • Many homes in Highland Park are still without power. Elsewhere in New Jersey, especially by the Shore, whole communities are without power. In communities like Bradley Beach or Belmar, the water went straight through the town, not just along the boardwalk area.
  • A relative in New York lost her car. Many others lost homes, businesses, schools.
  • The Highland Park Reformed Church is organizing a relief effort for the Jersey Shore.
  • Because gas is difficult to come by, gas has been stolen directly from cars. Also, homes that are without power have been burglarized.

South Park in Highland Park
South Park got cleared of live wires yesterday – it no longer looks like this. Unclear why this got attention while other parts of Highland Park did not.

Learn about life in a hurricane, before, during and after.

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)