In Pictures | Hurricane Sandy

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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