Never really thought I would be in an actual hurricane. I am never really in the south, where they usually hit, and any that do stray north usually die down significantly before they reach NJ. We just get some wind and rain, nothing big. But this time...wow. Hurricane Irene stayed a Category 1 all through the state, and we got a LOT of wind and rain. Enough that I got worried about things. Enough that I moved my car out of the drive way so that it wasn't parked under a tree. Enough so that I moved all patio furniture, outdoor flags, planters, trash cans, etc...to a more secure location. Enough that I got out the flashlights and camp lanterns and put them in strategic locations. Enough, even, that I filled two pitchers with water to store in my fridge, and I filled my bathtub with water, just in case.
I had wondered what to do about sleeping arrangements. There is a large maple that hovers over the corner of our house, over our bedroom. The trunk split only about 3 feet up from the ground, and so it has two large trunks that angle out from there, instead of one straight vertical sturdy one. If there was enough wind, maybe one of them would crack off, and land on our bedroom. There were a few gusts early on that got my heart racing. And then the tornado warnings started. Not watches...that started up earlier...9pm through 5am. But actual warnings, in areas nearby (plus near my sisters and my parents). I did NOT want to wake up in my bedroom as a tree was being smashed through it due to a tornado. The safest spot in our house, we've decided, is our computer/craft room, as it used to be part of the garage and it has no windows. After rushing in there, to the closet door frame, twice last night, I decided that there was no way I could sleep upstairs, especially with the kids up there. So, we cleared out the floor, pushed Maia's pack-n-play in there, threw in Liam's camping cot, and blew up our air mattress.
So...we slept in the computer room. Liam was pretty excited about it, since it was something new. He fell asleep pretty quickly, as did Maia. Given that we weren't in our bedroom where we would hear the wind shoving the trees around, and instead were near the AC unit, the sounds of the storm were mostly drowned out. So it didn't take me too long to fall asleep. Although it was well after midnight before we went to bed. I woke up a few times, and actually got up at one point around 4:30, to help get blankets for the kids, since it was now chilly from being so close to the AC unit. It wasn't as windy and rainy as we thought it would be, given that the eye was almost on top of us. I checked the latest warnings, and then quickly fell back to sleep.
In the morning we got up to survey the damage. Which was minimal. In fact, it was way less than what I thought we would see, given the projected wind speeds we were supposed to have. Just lots of leaves and dead branches on the ground. Nothing damaged or knocked over. I took a walk around the neighborhood later, but the only damage I saw was our local Wawa sign, which had been torn open.
Obviously I am glad that no one was hurt and that there wasn't any major damage to property and such. But...I guess I am kind of a little disappointed that there wasn't something more. You know..just a downed tree or two...NOT anywhere bad, like across a road or someones car or house. But something to point at and say "Look! Look what the storm did in MY neighborhood!". We didn't even have power go out, just a flicker that reset the clocks. Not that I want to be without power. I just feel like it wasn't as big a deal for us.
Not so for my sister Jackie, about an hour north. Her apartment is near a canal and there was a LOT of flooding there. It's a good thing she evacuated.
This is the back end of her parking lot, closest to the canal, taken today.
The water is up to the apartment building, and unfortunately there are apartments on the first level that are actually lower than ground level, lower than those grey air-conditioning units you can see there. They are totally flooded. Luckily Jackie is on the second floor.
Here is another shot of the flooding, taken at 7pm. The water has actually risen and come into the parking lot a great deal since the morning. Earlier the water was about 10 feet away from the green island you can see there, and now it's past it and submerging it a bit.
And shortly after Jackie returned to her apartment complex, this tree feel across the entrance into her parking lot. Luckily it fell into an empty parking spot.
Unbelievable. I've now lived through a hurricane. Though it was a small one compared to the ones that have been felt in the south. I can't imagine going through one of those. Here's hoping mother nature calms down for a while.