Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Sandy Diary, Of Sorts (Reposted from my other site...)

“The fear-mongering is out in full force for this storm next week. The science is worth paying attention to here, though. Time to get ready.”
-Me, 10/26/2012

The following is a compilation of my more relevant Facebook status updates (well, as relevant as those get, anyway) during the time period since Hurricane Sandy first hit weather radar. It’s presented in chronological order from oldest to newest. There will be editorial comments next to some entries. I hop back and forth from dead serious to completely off-color and ridiculous, because that’s just what I do. Viewer discretion is advised.

For more information on the storm, or to figure out where you can help out with the aftermath, go here.

10/28/2012:
“OK, there’s a storm a-comin’. Who wants to come over and cuddle with a motherfucker?”

“In other fun news, a reporter asks Bloomberg about prisoner safety at Riker’s: “Don’t worry about them getting out.” Nice guy.”

“Whew, almost made a huge oversight in my storm prep! “Reign In Blood” on iPod now. Crisis averted.”

“So, what’s more likely to be left standing, New York after Sandy or San Francisco after the Giants win?” (San Francisco fared a *little* better on this front, I reckon.-Editor)

Tim Pool did and is still doing a great job of covering Sandy and its aftermath. He also shacked up with a group of people who did some great storm prep:


Yes, they even had “Gangnam Style” socks, which are available here.

10/29/2012:

“Drinkers, drink whenever someone on the news or The Weather Channel says “unprecedented” and you’ll have alcohol poisoning in an hour!”

Oh, Gary. As an aside, though I’d need to find someone who’s the perfect height and get the shot before Gary flips his shit, I really, really want to take a picture that looks like someone’s blowing The Hulk one of these days.”

The “SandysHurricane” Twitter account was short-lived, but lasted long enough for it to say “@MITTROMNEY YOU IS A BASIC BITCH.”

10/30/2012:

“I’m alive! House is OK, we’re all OK, shit is FUCKED UP in NJ, though. Pics in a minute. Internet still intermittent.”

Gary’s Hulk statue survived, too, and still stands:


Some of Keyport, NJ wasn’t so lucky, though, as I saw the morning after the storm…


This is the Steamboat Dock Museum, or about half of it, anyway. The gentleman we talked to who was associated with the museum estimated an 80-90% loss of their historical archives.


This is, or was the Bayside Grill, once the Bayside Tavern (or, to its regulars, “The Bucket”) in Keyport, NJ. It was the bar that my father more or less pissed his marriage and his family away in. While I feel for the people who own it now, as well as the current regulars, I will not miss driving past the place as it was, looking at it as it looked and thinking about it.


Interesting story about this one. This ’56 Chevy was in a garage across the street from where it was photographed, behind a house. It was picked up by the water, floated out of the garage backwards, up a long, narrow driveway, across the street, and parallel parked itself. Damn shame about the car, it was a beaut, but some of where things ended up after this storm, and how they got there is incredible.

10/31/2012:

“Morning report: hearing that power’s back in parts of Slayerville/Parlin and Tinton Falls so far. Nothin’ here, but I did see what looked like an unmarked power co. truck in my hood, sneaky fuckers. I’m on foot today, as my car battery decided to die overnight after I listened to the radio for a few before going in the house last night. Email, msg or text if you can jumpstart, as AAA said FU. Will try to get a few local pics today.”

(I took an impromptu 7 mile walk around my town this day. Took almost no pictures, because it was all downed trees and power lines, pretty run-of-the-mill storm damage. Saw lots of houses where people engaged in very poor generator etiquette, running in broad daylight to power their big screen TVs, that sorta jazz. Nothing was powered by the grid this day, and power wouldn’t begin to get restored to my area en masse until 6 days later.-Editor)

11/03/2012:

“Awful joke alert:
So, Tuesday, I was in Keyport with my mother, looking at storm damage and trying to gather info. At one point, looking out across the bay, it was quiet.
So, I leaned over to my mother, and, deadpan, in a shocked voice, I said…”Oh my god…”

“What?”, she replied.

“The World Trade Center is gone!”"

Took two pictures of an uprooted tree this day, to give people an idea of the force of the storm.


11/04/2012:

“In Staten Island with Allan. It is fucked here, but we’re doing what we can. Humbling doesn’t begin to cover it. If you know someone on the ground Near New Dorp Ave. who needs help, buzz me.”

“I didn’t take many pictures at all, didn’t feel it was my place to photograph a bunch of destroyed private residences, and I wanted to focus on the work. However, when I was taking a break after a few hours, this caught my attention. One picture is of the two bathrooms for volunteers at the end of New Dorp Ave. in Staten Island, where a great many of us were helping. The other fenced in, large assortment of bathrooms and the fancy, enclosed tent behind the Con Ed “No Trespassing” sign were for the bigwigs, as far as we could tell. I really wish I had a blind spot for inequity, but I can’t help but notice it these days.”



“I don’t wanna seem like the whole game is rigged, though. So many fantastic volunteers putting themselves in harm’s way for friends, family, neighbors and strangers. So many people who turned missing the marathon (maybe their only chance to run it) into a positive by helping us out. So many people cooking for the victims and volunteers alike. Even NYPD, exhausted as they all are, were a little nicer than usual today.”

“Throughout the affected areas, we’re gonna need so much help, for so long. Right now, more donations and volunteers than we know what to do with, but once this isn’t a headline anymore, it’s gonna be a long, tough struggle. Hearing 40,000 will need housing in NYC and Long Island alone, and that doesn’t get into NJ, CT, or anywhere else. A lot of people have nothing left. I helped an older man throw out practically his entire life today, and his was one house in a huge neighborhood full of the same story. Plan on helping, local charities if at all possible (even the cops spoke disparagingly about the Red Cross today) for a long time. People will need donations, sure, but they’re really going to need your time, effort and caring. Show the fuck up, or support the hell out of the people who do if you can’t.”

“It is also worth noting, however, that those of us helping really need to fucking pace ourselves. Allan and I did 3-4 hours of locating a person a friend was looking for (according to the neighbors, the whole family is fine, though we didn’t speak to them directly; left a message, though), clearing a playground with a whole bunch of marathoners, emptying a car full of supplies and clearing a house, with a whole lot of “wandering around looking to see where we were needed” in between”, and we’re both spent. I was totally willing to work myself down to a bloody stump, but Allan hurt his arm and honestly that was a wakeup call. I saw so many spent people who didn’t or couldn’t pace themselves, and we need to be in some shape to help them.”
We took one other picture on our way out of the neighborhood we went to in Staten Island…


Before I got there, I’d heard that Mile High Comics were offering to replace some comics for those who’d lost them in the storm, free of charge, and with free shipping. I saw these books on the curb of one family’s home and froze. They belonged to the father of the house, and he apparently loved them, but they got washed out. I gave his grown kids the address of Mile High’s site and told them about the deal. They’ve got a ton on their plates right now and who knows when or if they’ll get in touch, but they seemed happy to hear about the deal and thanked me. I also sent this picture to Mile High to give them some idea that this family’s claim would be legit. It seems like a trivial thing in the face of near-total loss of property, but something like a few funny books can get someone back on the road to feeling like a human being again.

“People of Earth: one more time, the Red Cross are hacks. I will get you the names of other charities that aren’t hacks. People have been posting them here and elsewhere today, too. When even NYPD, the most conventional motherfuckers in the room, talk shit about you in a disaster area that you’re actually present in, you’re doing it wrong. Do you not remember them doing an awful job after 9/11, Katrina, Haiti, etc.? Seriously, if you’re gonna send money to the Red Cross, you’d get better bang for your charity buck by buying Lindsay Lohan cocaine. I am not kidding.”

11/05/2012:

(Back in NJ, I voted early at the County Clerk’s office, since that was an option given to those who’d lost power in the storm as I had. To say that the setup in Middlesex County, NJ was some Jim Crow shit is a bit of an understatement. Ridiculously slow lines even on the third day of the office having time to refine the process, on the first day back to work for a lot of the people in it. Most of these folks on line had jobs that they could lose for being late, and couldn’t afford to lose, but most stuck it out while I was there, knowing how important this election was. People walking around with lists of polling places that were supposedly going to be open, knowing that we had a storm advisory in place that could’ve knocked the power out again at any minute, encouraging people who’d taken the time to show up to leave and go vote at their normal polling places. Really a sense that they were targeting people who were minorities or looked poor, too, and attitude from the employee who tried to convince me to leave despite my complex’s polling place being on generator power. It was not pretty, institutionalized racism and class war in action right before my very eyes. Back to the storm, though…)

“One more thing before I go wait on line to be disenfranchised: a lot of people said some very kind things about me yesterday and over the past few days. While it’s good to be appreciated, and while I don’t want to seem ungrateful, If you all can help it, please try to keep that to a minimum. I’m not doing anything special or great. I’m doing what we all should and can be doing every day, even when the whole fucking world isn’t falling apart. If you really want to show me gratitude for what I’m doing, don’t do it by typing compliments about me on Facebook, do it by helping other people. Ask your own friends lists, “Does anyone need anything?”, and keep asking. Thank you.”

(I stand by this. I haven’t really helped that much. I want to help much more, but there are limits to my resources and energy, limits that are below most people in a lot of ways. I’m doing what I can, though, and encouraging others to do the same, just as you should be doing.)

“Keansburg, NJ. I’m here. Melissa Joy Crawford is here. Governor Christie is about 20 feet away from me, for what it’s worth. There’s a lot of work to do here, though. Come help. I’m at the Joseph Bolger Middle School, 100 Palmer Place (off Palmer Ave./Main St.) and they have mountains of work to do. Back to it!”

(Bolger Middle School is still up and running. People were working in the cold and the dark the other day, and for the days before. They may have power now, but as we got a foot of snow dumped on us overnight, I can’t make it over there today. I had no idea that Governor Christie was going to be there until he walked onto the stage in the auditorium area where we’d been gathered about an hour into my volunteer time there. I’ve said plenty of bad things about the guy, meant them, and still mean them, but he’s working his ass off in this case, his heart’s in the right place, and he is one hell of a charismatic speaker when he wants to be and stays on a positive message.)

11/06/2012:

“OK, folks. I got 14 hours’ sleep overnight, and I feel just a little more human. I got some VERY bad news about my substation this morning, but potentially good news about the substations serving a few of my neighbor reading this (we may be on different grids, which is awesome for you, potentially, but not so much for me). I’ll try to track down hard facts on both today. I’ll also be devoting a lot of my day to getting you all up-to-date donation and volunteer info, particularly for those who want to make out of area donations to charities that aren’t royal clusterfucks. Oh, and one more thing for this update: VOTE! I did. You should too, if you haven’t yet, and even if you’re voting for who I didn’t vote for (all Dems except Menendez, who I don’t care for; voted Green in that race). This shit’s important. More in a few, still catching up on a day’s info.”

(The substation news was just a rumor, and we got power early in the evening this day. I also found out a ton about our power grid and local substations from the out-of-state electrical workers brought in to help, who were great guys. Probably not the best energy security policy, telling residents what they did, but it put a lot of minds at ease.)

“To continue on our vague trajectory toward me answering the “where should I send money?” question in line with my beliefs, aside from Monmouth/Ocean Foodbank (go ahead there), start looking for people who help rebuild houses, infrastructure and public structures without getting all Jesusy.”

(That list is here.)

“Pro tip: if you’re going to a Starbucks or something to charge your devices during a power outage, ask before plugging it in, but bring a power strip so you’re not hogging that shit all to yourself.”

(I made a lot of people happy on Tuesday by bringing a surge bar with me.)

11/07/12:

“Apologies and happy birthday wishes to everyone whose birthdays I missed during the apocalypse.”

“Thoughts on digital concierge service at Sandy aid centers? Basically folks who can help victims cover their online needs. Is this a thing?”

“The Inkwell Coffee House and their staff are OK, and (this storm permitting) they’re planning on re-opening on Friday! FINALLY, word from them!”

(They are actually open as I type this on Thursday, November 8th.)

“Chris Christie just gave the locusts a shout-out. Stop trying to get on my good side, bro.”

“I don’t wanna ever hear anyone say that Occupy “have no direction”/”don’t do anything” EVER AGAIN. They’re saving lives. What’s Mike doing?”

“Seriously, Mike Bloomberg, are you playing cards in the “undisclosed location” with Dick Cheney or something?”

“Through the magic of Google Maps and photo-editing software so I could rotate the grid in the image 60 degrees clockwise to a coherent position, here’s the area of Staten Island I was in on Sunday. We were parked in the lot just below where it says New Dorp High School. The person we checked on for a friend lived roughly a half mile from the high school. The playground we worked on is just below the corner of Cedar Grove and New Dorp and the Con Ed tent was just east of that in the picture (east of New Dorp, north of Cedar Grove near the roadway). If my brain’s working, the house we helped clean out was not too far from the corner of Marine and Finley. And, if I’m correct, every house from the water up to at least Mill Rd. sustained interior flood damage, most of it total or near-total on the “personal property” side. The personal lives of virtually every person in every house west of New Dorp Lane and south of Mill Road was on the curb, if they had found a team of people to help them put it there. The actual structures were hit and miss.”


11/08/12:

“Hey, everyone! There’s a bunch of snow on the ground! What the fuckin’ shit?”

…and we’re up to the present.

1 comment:

  1. “Hey, everyone! There’s a bunch of snow on the ground! What the fuckin’ shit?”

    HAHAHAHA! I need that on a t-shirt!

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.