Hurricane Sandy's Wake-up Call (November 4, 2012)

Behold how narrowly we avoided a TKO from Hurricane Sandy Monday afternoon. Hours before the storm made landfall, winds ripped down this huge branch from a locust tree on the east side of our house. A foot-wide bludgeon, it tore down our power line, leaving our lights undimmed but pinning the live wire to the ground and sparing Kevin—who was working by the second-story windows nearest the tree (above center)—by a matter of feet. He heard it crack, recognized the sound, and fled to the other side of the house without looking back. Now he's gloating the branches didn't so much as scratch his new paint job on the front facade, but Monday he felt like he'd dodged a bullet.

We sustained no other damage and retained power til Wednesday, when National Grid flipped the switch and dispatched these tree removal experts from Indiana (above) to saw out a path to the live wire. 

National Grid took it from there that afternoon. These line men wore special gloves and used insulated tools to sever the line, hitching it high in the trees (above right) so no one got hurt until our electrician installed new service. 

And here he is—Justin Heath, our state-licensed Master Power Ranger (left, above left), accompanied by his sidekick Mo. They showed up Saturday morning at 9am to remount our service. From there, we thought we'd wait for days on National Grid, but by late afternoon we had juice. While we were out clearing our heads on Halibut Point, the line men drove by, saw the new conduit, and fired us up. We'd been holing up in our old Ipswich apartment and thought we'd be there until Tuesday—thanks to the generosity of our friend and former landlady, Sydney Phillips—but by 11am this morning, we'd packed up, cleaned up, and settled back into our dear old house.

Snug and warm at home, we're pondering: Who'd have guessed that Hurricane Sandy's meanest henchmen would prove to be trees? They accounted for at least 17 of 113 deaths (as of this writing) plus innumerable near misses like this one that struck too close to home for us to ignore. We're viewing it as a wake-up call from Mother Nature—carrying a big stick and speaking at the top of her green lungs.

Tons and tons of dead trees surround our property—most menacingly on this eastern side of our house (above), where they're only about 15 feet from our roof and clapboards. Once we take down the offending locust and a dozen other zombies of the forest, the benefits will resonate. 

Chiefly, we'll diminish this major traffic hazard. See this horse truck below on the right? Its driver can't see our house as he rounds a wide bend in the road.

Until the cab clears the treeline, here's the view from the passenger window. 

Even with most leaves off the trees, the house comes as a surprise—especially to drivers, presumably looking straight ahead at the blacktop. What's worse, once you pass the trees, it's only 70 feet to our driveway—which jerks back at a 110-degree angle from this direction (the north), shown below. Try to make that sharp turn right with yet another horse truck like this one behind you and you're clipped.

Ultimately we'll reroute the driveway at a right angle to the road. Meanwhile, we'll remove those trees, to help announce the blind curve. 

With the trees down, we'll also gain our first load of free firewood and start the process of drying it, so it's ready to burn for fuel by the time we purchase a fireplace insert next winter. And we'll shed even more light on the office and guest room. We've also assumed a longer view and started researching plug-in electric cars—but that's definitely the stuff of another post. Stay tuned for more on that topic and our clapboard restoration (late summer), our guardian horticulturalist and the rehabilitation of our front lawn (mid-October), our office renovation (late October), and the completion of our kitchen (in the works). I'm woefully behind on my blogging since I started a new job in September, but Sandy has spurred me back into action.

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Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for sharing these pictures! A lot of trees got knocked down in and around the area where I live too, and we lost power for almost a week. We're lucky one of the trees didn't fall onto our house since the most significant damage that we got was that some of the rooms on our house got flooded. We thought we could have done everything ourselves but we got some help for our Hurricane Sandy clean up and they really helped us out during a tough time. We were lucky that our house didn't get too damaged where it was basically unlivable like some of the other houses I saw near the Jersey Shore.

August 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChase Howard

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