SANDY Hits Long Beach
by Patricia Ripley
We heard the warnings, we watched the weather, we saw the path. I had been through many storms over the past 60 years,so we decided to stay, my husband, 13 year old daughter in our house; my son his wife and their 4 kids in their house a few blocks away.
Sunday 10/28, we gathered all the needed supplies in case we lost electricity for a time. The sky was grey, light grey, dark grey and then a strange soft quilt of both. The ocean was big, some of the biggest waves I have ever seen, but beautiful, one of the reasons we moved a few hundred feet from the shoreline in Long Beach. I said to myself, we'll all be in the ocean Thursday; the waves will be great. The surfers must be deliriously happy. Professionals always fly in for these conditions. (I wear a wetsuit this time of year).
There was a mandatory evacuation, many left, but a lot stayed. We had experience with storms, but most of the storms that hit New York City, where we had lived for 30 years petered out or seemed exaggerated. We moved to Long Beach 10 years ago.
The path of Sandy was weird, the way it went out to sea and then cut back left was something new. Announcements began to come in on Sunday, schools and bridges closed, last chance to evacuate. Wish we had bought a generator, they had gone so fast.
Monday the winds began to pick up, no rain, we tied down all loose yard items, moved the plants into the garage, parked the cars as high on our property as possible, and sandbagged the driveway. Then we got the last reports, landfall on the Jersey Shore (which we can see from our house across the water). Storm going faster, whew, it will pass quickly we thought. Then storm going slower, it will be around longer, winds picking up, coming from the north and east now even though the storm is coming from the south, our house faces south. Then the worst news, it will hit at high tide, with a full moon, damn! Two of the worst scenarios possible, coming with a water surge. We began to worry.
As it got dark we gathered our lights and candles, put on the fireplace and watched the news. The lights flickered and we said "here it comes", then they came back on, whew!. We watched the clock, we knew if we could make it through high tide we would be ok. About two hours later lights went off again, for good. We had a gas stove so we cooked spagetti and got ready to eat by candlelight. Just before we sat down the words: "California has water running down!" California Street is behind our house. We instantly knew where it came from, We went to the east side of the house and looked out, sure enough the next street New York Avenue was a river running south from the ocean to north to the channel, our island is only 4 blocks wide between them. In its former life New York had been a channel that had been filled in so it is a barometer in our area for flooding. It was two hours before high tide and the streets were flooding, not slowly as we had expected, but raging water with waves. Our house sits on a high area, albeit 10 feet above sea level. No water down our street. We had new heavy duty drains, we had sand bags, we felt somewhat secure. 1/2 hour later our street began to fill with water, slowly at first then more and more. Then a deluge, crashing sounds. Our sandbags were holding, but just as we finished eating a loud rumble and crash. I said, thunder, are we also getting a thunderstorm? My husband said, no not thunder and we looked out the front door. Our sandbags had given way and the garage door had collapsed, water was pouring into the house, water was coming up the front steps. Then another crash, the garage in the house next to us who had higher bags gave way and two people were in the basement. The woman across the street was screaming there are people in there call 911. Fruitless, in the middle of this. They got out. We found out later that they had gotten pushed in when the bags broke but made it out ok. My husband would have been caught in the basement, he had just come up with supplies from the garage fridge. We were 1 hour from high tide. Then all hell broke loose around us, crashing sounds, electric transformers exploding, sirens, water spraying everywhere, fences coming down, cars floating away, screams, cries for help, animals screaming ( I thought about the little black cat who lives in the alley next to us. We named her Noire because she was so black with big yellow eyes. A little thing, always pregnant I planned to have her neutered and make her our outdoor cat buddy).
We tried to calm Jeannie, our daughter, as we looked down the basement steps and the water was rising. We looked around the 1st floor, what could be save? We have a three story house so we could move up, but the house could collapse under us if the water and wind got too strong. Inside we were terrified, but we when we looked down the stairs we kept telling Jeannie that the water was not coming up, (It was) We thought of our kids, they are only two feet up from the street, we had been in touch and they had water coming up through the floorboards and it was at two feet in the first floor, they have two floors so they moved up. The water was gushing down their street as well. We knew the whole area was under water and all those folks who had one story homes were in deep trouble. We made it through high tide and finally went to bed as the water receded 4 inches and did not rise again.
The next day we awoke and the wind was still blowing and it was raining, but the flooding had stopped. The town was a disaster, folks lost everything.
Please help if it is within your means.Donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief are being accepted at all RG locations.