In Hoboken, we lost power on Monday. Acrid water flooded our streets that night. Almost all of Hoboken went black.
The next morning, the stinking water rose so high, we couldn't leave the building. We were safe on the third floor, but it nearly breached the first floor. Our first floor neighbors bunked on the second floor with neighbors. Wednesday, the water receded, so we could finally leave the apartment. Our neighborhood deli, where Faith used to get her cheese every morning, is so flooded, it probably will never reopen. The freezer units filled with flood water, and apparently floated to the ceiling.
Hoboken remained without power. Wednesday night, Jeff went out and convinced one of our neighbors, Brendan, a handyman, to pump out our flooded basement. Because Brendan's was running out of gas, Jeff went out into the dark to look for some gas. After some time, Jeff was lucky enough to run into another friend, Bobby, who had some extra gas. Brendan, along with two other neighbors, Charlie and Adam, spent hours in the cold running the pump.
Things smell bad already. Kerosene, gasoline, food gone bad. Sewage.
When my phone ran out of power, I went to the local church, where they were offering free charges. I had some wonderful conversations with fellow phone owners. On the door, the sign said, "No food or drink in the church please. Thanks, God."
Thursday, my office reopened. I walked up to Washington Street to catch the bus. Along the way, I saw that another cafe we go to, Legal Beans, had had its floor to ceiling windows blown out. The owner, Chris, was being interviewed by someone from Fox News. "I always wanted European seating," he said. All the booths inside are destroyed. Chris asks after Jeff and our dog by name.
By City Hall, there are National Guard trucks and troops. The soldiers look very young. They will have a lot to do. There are lots of people stuck in high rises, many of them older, many of them poor.
The PATH train isn't running, as the tunnels are flooded. Lots of people at the bus stop don't know how much the bus costs. I give one guy a quarter. A kind woman hands her remaining bus tickets to the people behind her. The bus driver drives carefully down Washington, which has no traffic lights at all.
At the gas station, the police officer directs traffic and screams: "NO GAS NO GAS NO GAS!"
Ghost town in the office. My boss, also in New Jersey, is staying at his sister-in-law's, one of our project managers has had to move back in with her parents with her husband and her baby. Since our job is to run a government website, we are hurting; half our team can't work remotely at all. Our developer, who biked to his job, gives me a hug, and offers to shop for an extra battery for my phone where he lives, as my phone is starting to seep power. I can't stop sneezing, and I feel really queasy.
I walk home in the dark. Jeff and Faith and I eat in the dark. There's no Internet, no heat; thank heaven for WNYC, windup flashlights, candles, quilts, and peanuts.
Friday we find out that our building's wires have suffered an electrical fire, and the electrical boxes in our basement have been damaged by the flood. Repairs are going to be very expensive and lengthy. I take a shower at work, and gratefully accept an invitation for us to stay the weekend at my friend Heather's in Manhattan.
It's about 30 degrees outside. I am glad to be warm. So many people lost so much more. My 82-year-old godfather, on West 12th Street, took the stairs to his 15th floor apartment FOUR times. In the dark.
We are lucky.