In Pictures | Hurricane Sandy

November 2, 2012
The marina that is just steps from our front door
All of those docks normally rest right on the water, 
and the storm twisted them up like pretzels.

Wow, I had NO idea that when I scheduled that last “Storm Survival” post, that I’d be needing more than nail polish and comfy pajamas to sustain our family for the week.  We’ve had QUITE the experience over the last few days, and now that we’ve temporarily moved in with our sweet friends across town, I’m finally taking a minute to sum it up so that we can get back to regular programming around here – Sound alright?

Click through for many more photos, our personal account of the storm, the top ten things I learned throughout the week, and a few ways that you can pitch in to help with the relief efforts…

A before and after shot of the Uptown Hoboken Waterfront & Marina; our favorite park in town and spot where we spend a lot of our time outdoors.  The storm began to blow in to the area on Monday, we were naively expecting heavy rain/wind and brief loss of power at the very worst.  This area is hardly 50 yards from our front stoop and was completely covered in water during the worst of the very high tide.
I took these photos on a walk we took around town after the 95 mph winds stopped on Tuesday, and realized later that I couldn’t bring myself to photograph some of the spots that suffered the worst damage… It somehow felt disrespectful, and I didn’t want to objectify the families/business owners standing amidst the rubble.

G had the foresight to make sure our car was in a good spot before the curfew began Monday night  (which thankfully saved it from getting completely waterlogged and ruined like many of our neighbors cars!), and when we checked on it the next morning, we couldn’t believe how fortunate we were that it narrowly missed getting hit by an enormous branch that fell from that old tree.

Our power has been out since Monday night (still is while I’m writing this on Friday morning), and we came up with quite a survival system while we were stranded at home… In a pinch, the fire escape and a cool window sill have been our acting food refrigeration, and a countertop-ripened pomegranate feels like a luxurious desert in “desperate” times.

The only way we were able to stay even semi-connected was by the generosity of fellow Hoboken residents who lined the sidewalk with power strips plugged into extension cords coming out of the windows of their homes.  We had no cell service or wifi, and only very limited texting or access to news until we finally found batteries for our radio a few days after the storm hit. 

It felt very strange to know that our family/friends were worried about our safety, but that we could barely even check in to let them know we were safe.  Finally being able to talk to my Mom and Dad on the phone yesterday morning and watching nearly a week’s worth of missed news coverage, made for a very emotional Thursday.

A limited supply of candles and firewood have been the only way we’ve had to light and heat our home, and when we ran out of both on Wednesday we ended up walking almost 3 miles to try and find more supplies.  On the bright side, we spent our Halloween consuming treats of homemade cherry cobbler, coming up with tasty seasonal cocktails, playing cards by candlelight & cozied up by a freshly-fueled fire.

This is currently what our downtown looks like, and thankfully with the water line drastically receeding, it has allowed FEMA, the Red Cross, and other sources of aid to be able to do a much better job of distributing food, water and other medical supplies to the many families still in need.

One of the reasons why Hoboken is still in such bad shape is that much of the city’s power is still out because so many of our electrical substations were damaged by massive title surges and then under water for days.  Not only is it starting to affect the living conditions/health standards of the area (due to mold concerns/sewage/etc), but is making it nearly impossible for the gas stations to keep the generators fueled.  We’re hoping to have power restored by November 9th, and then I’d imagine will be able to make much more progress in the efforts to clean up and eventually rebuild.

Bottom line: These two, along with my faith in God, were right there with me the whole time.
Truly can’t imagine faring the storm without them!
The three of us are anxious to get back home, but are spending our time trying to get some work done, cherishing quality time spent with our gracious hosts, and are looking forward to volunteering/praying for the City of Hoboken with members of our church this weekend.

Of course we’re beyond grateful that our actual home and building suffered little to no damage, and we are finding ourselves constantly counting our blessings despite the still-rocky situation here in town.  In order to cope by trying to keep things somewhat lighthearted, I jotted down a few things that I’ve learned throughout the past several days, and have also compiled a few ways that you can pitch in below…

Top Ten Things I Learned from Hurricane Sandy:

  1. Neighbors bond faster than anything I’ve ever seen when everyone is walking around in their PJs and wellies checking on folks they’ve never even met. 
  2. Cold washcloth baths in the sink by candle light are NOT for sissies.  I am apparently a really big sissy. 
  3. I use the microwave for way too much stuff… must attempt to nuke less, and try to bake/steam/poach more.
  4. Storm, or no storm: Puppies always make the best feet warmers.
  5. Fancy scented candles don’t do squat when you’re trying to light a home or light your gas stove.  Leave those in the bathroom so they can do their job when you’ve had to make your husband beans for breakfast/lunch/dinner for the last few days in a row.
  6. Despite our best efforts at self-control, when forced to ration food – the coffee, chocolate and wine were the hardest to spare and the first to go.
  7. Don’t apply your oil based skin/hair product by candlelight. (Ouch. Trust.)
  8. The fact that I only wash my hair once every two weeks comes in quite handy in the case of a water limitation during a natural disaster.
  9. The hum of a generator and ding of successful text messages are two of the most comforting sounds I’ve heard all week. 
  10. The view of a half dark/half light Manhattan from across the river is a very sobering sight, and finally hearing “SAFE!” messages from friends who have also been disconnected brings a huge sigh of relief every single time.

All joking aside… I know many of you read from different parts of the country (and world), and several have asked about ways to help from afar.  Style & Pepper will be donating a portion of the proceeds from our upcoming Pepperologie workshop to local relief efforts via our church, Hoboken Grace, as well as the animal rescue efforts of the American Humane Society (but the ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States are also great ways to care for displaced animals, as well). 

If you happen to be in or near NYC or are looking for different options, my friend Sara also posted about several other ways you can lend a hand, both in the area and from a distance.  Lastly, and possibly the easiest way to make a different: you can safely and quickly donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting “RED CROSS” to 90999 right this very minute.

Thanks so much for even considering to help out (and for reading such a lengthy post!), and for your patience while S&P tries to get back to our regularly scheduled programming by the beginning of next week.  I hope you’re able to have (at least some semblance of) a relaxing weekend with the people you love no matter where you are, and I’ll look forward to seeing you back here very soon!

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  • Reply Lissy November 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Wow, I’ve seen all sorts of news coverage but this really puts the whole thing into perspective. I’m in Boston which was relatively unscathed. I’m thankful that you and your family are OK and I’m praying for all of the victims of this awful storm. Thanks for posting.

  • Reply Alissa | Feeling Good November 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Wow- what a post. I’m in the DC area and we were very fortunate. Our power never went out. I wish you & the fam were close, you could stay here! The pictures are devastating, can’t even imagine being there in person. I wish you and everyone in NYC a happy weekend, and my heart goes out to everyone affected.


  • Reply Jessica November 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I was thinking about you these past few days (in a non-creepy and non-stalker way..haha) when I heard that Hoboken got hit pretty hard by the storm.. I’m SO glad you guys are all ok, including your pups! Sounds like you did a lot of pre-planning (good call on the car!) and I’m sure that helped! Thanks for the update.. very touching; I always appreciate your spin on things! :) Cheers, good thoughts and hugs from Canada as you all rebuild after Sandy! :)

  • Reply Sara B November 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    This made me really emotional for some reason. I am so glad you guys are ok!! But still so sad you’re living in these kind of conditions. That is crazy you’ve been without power so long. I have been praying for you all and appreciate the update and peak into what you’ve been dealing with so much! Love you both and wish I could fly over and wisk you away to the west coast with me! I’ll talk to you soon Jess, love you and thanks again for this post!

  • Reply Ashley November 2, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    This is a touching post, Jess. I’m so glad you guys are safe. Praying for your family and everyone else out there. Love. xx

  • Reply Steph November 3, 2012 at 12:04 am

    happy you have shared this post, I am a bit new to Style and Pepper and love your work! While we are all seeing the images and news stories, reading about your personal experience/reflection is truly eye opening. Happy to hear you all are safe and our thoughts remain with you as all the pieces are back together.

  • Reply Erin November 3, 2012 at 1:01 am

    So glad you are safe! I heard Hoboken got it bad and was worried! Thank you so much for sharing your photos and thoughts. Will be praying for you all there!


  • Reply April Giannosa November 3, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Glad you’re doing well!!! It still amazes me how strong and powerful Mother Nature can be. Hang in there lady, things will be back to ‘normal’ soon!


  • Reply NadineisthatU November 3, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Great Update. Am going to make egg salad with my leftover hard boiled eggs, and croutons with the toast. Saw recipe today I wonder if you have ever tried. It was youtube, Cooking with tea. I love Lapsang Souchong to drink, but this one had cornish hens stuffed with this smoked tea and lemon, and then rolled in and baked. It sounds wonderful. I hate liquid smoke, and threw mine away in my move. I can’t wait to get a naturally smoked taste from the tea. Always heard you should add a couple of tea bags to your meat loaf for color, and that does work, especially with Raspberry Tea or Pomegranite.

  • Reply Paula November 3, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Glad to hear that you are safe and thanks for sharing the photos. Hang in there, Jessie.

  • Reply Happiness at Mid Life November 3, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Glad to hear you are safe. It really scary to see the pictures of the aftermath. Growing up in Hawaii, I am used to Hurricanes but I don’t think I could handle no being in the cold with no electricity for so long.

    So true about getting to know your neighbors during tough times. So sad it takes a disaster to bring a community together. Hang in there..


  • Reply Ruby Girl November 3, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    So glad that you are ok, what a sobering storm, to say the least! Praying for you and those currently affected! xoxo linds

  • Reply Anonymous November 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    So glad to hear you’re OK, how scary that must have been! The power outages remind me of a Kansas tornado; glad you never had to deal with one of those!

    For those wanting to donate to help animals, the local shelter is a much better choice. The Humane Society of the United States doesn’t actually operate any shelters; they’re an animal rights lobbying organization and funds go towards lobbying and legislation. Money given to HSUS will NOT actually go towards helping displaced animals. They get a “D” rating from Charity Watch. Try the Hoboken Dog Association, Liberty Humane Society, Animal Haven Shelter or the Humane Society of New York.

  • Reply Terri November 5, 2012 at 3:32 am

    it’s good to know you’re safe and sound, though infinitely challenged.

  • Reply Jess | the Jess Journals November 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I’m glad you’re ok – Hoboken was hit pretty hard! I live downtown Manhattan in Zone A and have not spent a night back in that apartment since last Saturday. (The mandatory evacuation has not been lifted for my building, and they estimate it’ll take a month before anyone is allowed to move back in.)

    Glad you’re safe and sound!

  • Reply Pixie November 7, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Glad to hear y’all came through the worst of it. I’m on the south end of Hoboken, closer to City Hall but on the ridge of Washington Street, so no flooding by me. Finally the power came back on Sunday afternoon! I’ve decided that my next place WILL have a gas stove.

  • Reply Life // Another Year Older | Style & PepperStyle & Pepper November 3, 2013 at 8:00 am

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