Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rockaway Update: Flood Despair to Euphoria

Lessons from Sandy: Water seeks its own level.

If you give to any relief effort - time or money - Occupy Sandy has been doing a great job. I don't have link.

Good news for us - electrician tomorrow AM, plumber recom by our contractor Matt came yesyerday and will get us an AO Smith water heater installed by Fri and a Weil Mclain or Burnham boiler somewhat later on - and we have some secondary heat sources once power is on so we are moving forward.
And the great Matt (even tho a romney guy) came the same time to set up the demilition for Sat - anything that got wet is threatened by dreaded mold.

Also good news yesterday was my wife having a giant cavity filled by a new dentist for us (our regular guy is out due to storm). My wife has always bragged about her perfect cavity-free mouth so I am doubly happy so I can shut her up.

To all those asking how to help us -

We are the 1% in our ability to recover. We have the resources - contacts, insurance, backup funding, etc. We have a borrowed car through Thanksgiving and we have an allowance to rent one. And after today's visit from Geico to my 3 month honda crv we should be able to get a replacement - this time leasing looks good. We spent a chunk of yesterday meeting with the guy who sold us the car and also looking at a Subaru - how surprising that the salesman lives 2 blocks from us - 2 blocks closer to the fire - and he had some stories about wading through the water to get further away.

And we signed up with FEMA Sat nite and a guy called last night - he is coming this morning.

All we have needed has been places to shower and do laundry (mostly the messy work clothes).

The Night of Sandy

The experience of living on our own island for a few hours on the night of Sandy is not something I want to repeat. It is not easy to describe the relief when we realized the ocean had stopped rising inside and outside our house and we weren't on fire.

My house, which the previous owners had custom built around 1960 is very unique, especially for Rockaway - a split level - in essence 2 separate houses split down the middle, each with 2 levels, 4 in all - if you don't count the 2 level attic where we could have taken refuge. (Actually, that makes 6 levels.)

The main level - living, dining, kitchen is about 4 plus feet up from the ground with decks in front and back, a basement around 7 ft deep underneath. Next to it is a ground level slab with den (which was used mostly for storage, beach transit, plants wintering over) bathroom, garage and laundry room, a 6 step flight of stairs down to the basement and 6 steps up to the main level. Over this space are the bed and bathrooms which connect to the main level with about 6 steps, putting them 8-10 ft above ground level.

Thus, given that we are over 3 blocks from the beach and not threatened by a giant wave since the water from the ocean would spread out by the time it reached us, we figured our lives were not in danger from water. The house might end up being a mess, but we would live to clean it up. I never thought of fire.

But what about the bay a little over half a block away even though protected by a 6 ft wall? My figuring was that if the moon at high tide were pulling the ocean toward us it would also be pulling the bay away from us. But then again there were the northeat winds pushing the bay back to us. Who would have thought the ocean and bay would actually say "howdy"? Yet the relative lack of bay-side destruction compared to beach devastation sort of proves my point.

But what I couldn't conceive without actually experiencing it were the multiple paths water could take to enter - not just the basement but through windows and back door of the den, through the garage and laundry room on the ground level, all of which flooded probably before the basement. We could clearly see and hear the water rushing into the den and then rising step by step while also rising up our front and back steps until it reached both decks.

So I ran from front to back window to den door to watch the water rise. 3 ways to watch the coming doom - if it got to the first floor the house becomes unliveable. I knew that high tide at 9PM and a little beyond would be the high point.

Running out of power. I'll finish our Sandy story of Monday night/Tues morning next time.

Norm Scott

Twitter: normscott1

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