Powerlessness & Gratitude: Message from post-Sandy NJ
We are in northern, New Jersey. We were hit pretty hard by Sandy, but from what I can tell, we got off easy compared to lower Manhattan, Queens and the Jersey shore. We experienced 5 days of powerlessness. By day 3 I stopped flicking light switches, and quickly adjusted to candlelit dinners and huddling around the fireplaces for warmth, light and quietude. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to reflect on priorities. It’s amazing how quickly the ‘things’ that we cling to fade as we focus on survival, those we love and our communities. I was grateful that I hit gratitude relatively quickly in this mess – almost immediately after seeing a rather large tree across the top of my car! Feeling pretty grateful for a lot of things – natural gas service, gas fireplaces, gas hot water heater, city water (gravity fed), good food, awesome family, great friends and a very thoughtful community.
When we moved into this house over the summer, we were crabby that the two huge old fireplaces in the dining room and living room had been converted to gas – we love our wood-burning fun. Prepping wood and fireplace is like a ritual to us. Have to say that this week as the temperatures drop, we are incredibly happy to lean into those big ole fireplaces and turn a nob and have instant warm flames. I’m surprised how much heat is thrown off those gas-fueled flames! Surprised and super grateful. We have set up camp on our couch in front of the living room fireplace and it is pretty darn cozy.
The Green Diva kitchen is remarkably functional and I’m glad I filtered and saved a lot of water, even though we do have water from the tap. We’ve got a lot of yummy food and we’re cookin with gas as they say!
This episode has underscored the value of simplifying for me. Keeping it simple and as self-sufficient as possible seems like a good trajectory moving forward. And I don’t mean self-sufficient in an isolationist way. I am convinced that we have to start having serious conversations in our communities about these kinds of events and how we can be better prepared and avoid certain negative circumstances all together. Talk about creating more localized (at least regional) basic services – energy, clean/safe water, food, etc. If we have to rely on water, fuel and food to get delivered from other areas of the country in an emergency, is that really sustainable? Ok, I’m leaving the trail on a sidewinder . . . sorry.
I’m incredibly grateful for all those in our GD and online communities that have reached out and offered encouraging words and actual support. Our Important Media blog community stepped up, and our fearless leader Scott Cooney kept my blog from getting too stale by posting an excellent article about distributed power and energy storage: lessons learned by Sandy, which I highly recommend!
We were like digital explorers and on day 4 after no Internet access and very little news, we discovered shangri-la in a Starbucks with power – not only did we find one, but we got a table and two plugs for charging. Seriously? The floors are littered with people on their laptops gratefully accessing wifi and a plugs when available. Folks are calmly sharing and like strangers stranded on Starbucks island, we are swapping stories and sharing critical information like where you can get gas or when power might be coming on, or where you can get ice for your warming refrigerator.
My heart has been warmed by my personal experiences in our own community of people extending themselves readily and heartily to help neighbors, but I’ve also loved the many stories (and new ones every day) from all over this devastated area. Crack all the jokes you want about Joisy folks, but in a true pinch, they are – WE are – as kind and courteous as they come. The most inspirational theme is that the folks who have been hit hard, seem still willing to share what little they have left. And when someone’s electricity (and consequently heat) comes back, they put the word out to those that are still cold and in the dark.
We now count ourselves among those back to full power and have been graced with a few visitors who have shared a meal and warmed up. All are welcome.
Our only serious casualties are my and my daughter’s cars that are pinned down under a rather large tree and will remain so for a while. Have a couple of different insurance companies to deal with and the adjusters probably have cars on a low-priority (rightfully so in many cases). So when my husband gets on my slightly frayed nerves, I’ve tried to remember that he filled his hybrid with gas Monday morning, and while we all tried to get him to move it away from that big tree, and tuck it down by the garage where ours were nestled safely next to the house and away from the large looming trees on the street, his car was miraculously untouched. Oh the irony. So grateful I can walk easily into my wonderful town. We’ve been taking daily walks and I seriously adore my town and the people in it. I’m one lucky green diva.
So what are the climate change haters saying these days?
Dunno, but I have more respect for our governor Christie. He could have used the opportunity to politicize things and he has done the opposite. While I’ve enjoyed the break from the political insanity, you can bet I’m voting Tuesday, come hell or high water (or hurricanes apparently).
Obviously, we did not have a Green Divas Radio Show this past week featuring Mariel Hemingway. We hope to be fully operational this week. Please stay tuned for details and hopefully join us this Thursday, 4 – 5pm ET on HomeGrownRadioNJ.org! The Green Divas Radio Show Facebook page is probably the best place for the latest news on whether we have a show this week or not!
Hope you are faring well wherever you are. Hope to be back on track next week! Meanwhile . . . stay warm, safe & peaced out.