Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rockaway Update: Almost Normal - Let There Be Light

One of the major lessons I've learned in recovering from the Sandy disaster  is that to remain optimistic you have to make some progress, no matter how little, every day. Don't be impatient but look to gain at least an inch a day. And for the most part I can say that a day hasn't gone by without moving ahead. By the way, I can apply that same principle to organizing efforts in the UFT -- build it right a step at at time. (I know there are lots of people who feel the growing emergency doesn't allow us that luxury, but if the foundation of any building or org is not done right it will fall.)

Sunday, December 9

Big news this past Friday on this end: over 90% electricity restored after Ken the Great (electrician) sent Tommy and 2 other guys to spend the day cutting out the BX cables that had been under water, installing new lines and reconnecting others. All bedrooms, living room, frig, oven most lights are on. The only things left to do are overhead kitchen lights and some outlets.
I took my first shower with the light and exhaust and heater on. First time I saw myself naked in 6 weeks. Not a pretty sight.  

A key was getting wrecked laundry room connected so machines can be ordered and hooked up for now, at least until walls are put up. That room was just completed with new machines the last week in Sept. Oh Lord of Flood Insurance, be kind. In the meantime, the machines my wife wants are no longer on sale and she is waiting them out. So we are planning our next big trip to the laundromat this Thursday.

Ken showed up for a while on Friday, pointing out that the tolls were back, an outrage given that all these contractors and workers and volunteers now have to pay for the privilege of coming to Rockaway. As my wife utters on a regular basis -- that fuck'n Cuomo. We found out on the first day of the toll while driving through that I forgot to put the easy pass in my car and we had to pay $3.25 each way. We get resident reductions and with Easy Pass who really pays attention, but the idea that everyone who comes to Rockaway has to pay $6.50 a day, and given there are few stores or gas stations open, that is piling on.

My basement was filled with the cut-out BX cables by the time they left. Tommie told me I could get a hundred bucks for it at a scrap yard. Later I dumped it all into a garbage can that I left in front of my house and it was all gone by the morning, along with my old shop lights and any other metal scrap I put out. Even with the great heroes in sanitation (my wife told me when the sanit dept was mentioned at the Town Hall meeting last week they were the only agency to receive a standing ovation) there are also so many scrap guys picking up what they can.

When I point out all the electrical wiring I had done in the basement and den, Ken is not discouraging me from doing some of my own work -- he will check it for me. I gotta say, given that I have not done much work around the house for 15 or 20 years, I an getting that old itch again. But of course with no power tools yet (finding the right ones is becoming an obsession) I am holding off. But I spent an hour in the empty basement last night figuring out ideas for storage and work areas.

One of my inch-like moves has been getting my garage door opener working again. Up to now I have to lift this very heavy door manually. The plug, button and remotes all got wet. So I got some lamp cord with a plug and cut off the damaged part and rewired it and plugged it in. Then I tried the remotes and mine which was not under water worked. My wife's which was under didn't. But when I took out the rusted battery and put mine in it did work. A miracle of survival, for a remote. Next move is to get the button and wire it in. After that a key of some sort to open from the outside. And then that remote pad that is ruined replaced. Like I said, an inch at a time.

Ken the the guys pointed to some mold but said our situation was the best they've seen. But we feel we have to attack that problem, which we can handle ourselves rather than pay thousands of dollars to have it done. My neighbor across the street showed me what he was doing -- Home Depot has a mold product and you put it in a pump-type spray jug and go through the basement spraying the ceiling. We looked it up and it's a green product -- no chemicals, etc an it gets great reviews.

So on Saturday we were off to Home Depot where we spent almost $200 on "stuff" including new lights for the basement -- if Ken's guys come back Monday maybe they can get me some light down there so I don't have to rely on work lights. I also got that garage door button, some storage bins and got to fondle all kinds of power tools until my wife pulled me away. Really, at this point my favorite centerfold would be a giant Sawzall.

Well, after all that shopping it was off to the diner across the street from Home Depot on Cropsey Ave but the lot was full, so we went to another diner on Flatbush Ave where I went whole hog -- French toast with 2 eggs and cheese. And nary a bit of heartburn.

Back home for an afternoon of mold spraying using this cheap plastic pump jug I was given by the Mormons. I don't like the plastic nozzle and parts tend to come loose. My wife insisted on doing this job no matter how much I tried to dissuade her. I had some more destruction to do down there -- I am in love with my giant crow bar -- and we had to work around each other.

Within 10 minutes we were ready for a divorce. Every time she had a slight problem I had to stop what I was doing. So I wasted an hour just trying to help her. I tried to give her a plan for getting the spraying done but she wanted to do it her way which really wasted the stuff. And it kept leaking so more was getting on her than on the ceiling. Luckily she ran out of the $35 a gallon stuff soon enough so I could get on with my work. We realize we need a better sprayer and my first task today is to go get one.

Well, after she left the basement I was free to demolish things and just was feeling great. I swept up and the place is looking better. We're thinking of hosing down the concrete walls and floor but are worried about the damp leading to mold. But there is a plan. Do a section at a time, use the new wet-dry vac to get the water up and the leaf-blowing attachment to blow dry it and run the new dehumidifier.

I can start doing that today while listening to the Jet game. Two disaster relief efforts for the price of one.


  1. Hadrain once stated, "Brick by brick my citizen", so can your caucus take back the UFT. Stormin Norman you have a real winner in Julie Cavanagh, her candidcay and the UFT caving in on evaluations should lead to great gains this spring.

  2. "Well, after she left the basement I was free to demolish things and just was feeling great. "

    Sounds like disaster capitalism.

  3. Norm, you would be a great candidate for the show, Survivor. And look at all the critical thinking and creative thinking skills you have been using. Good thing you didn't have many high stakes tests as a child or you might have had a paralyzed brain and would still be sitting in the dark.

  4. Disaster capitalism sounds right. Right now I'm researching sawzalls - I may buy 2.
    I turned my wife in an ATR. I may have Naomi Klein over to chronicle the project.

  5. I can lend you almost any power tool you need. E-mail me and I'll send you my number or we can arrange something online.


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