Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An Earthquake and A Hurricane

Hello everyone! So sorry for the delay in getting my vacation photos up! Things have been a little crazy around here in the last week. Some due to the regular family busy things and some due to some intense Mother Nature things! Yikes! Don't worry--we are all safe and unharmed. :)

First we felt the 5.8 Virginia earthquake here in New Jersey last Wednesday, August 23, 2011. I realize people who live along fault lines on the west coast are used to this sort of thing, but for us, it's a rare occurrence. I have felt a couple of earthquake tremors in New Jersey in the past, but none ever as long or as strong as this one. The first thing I noticed around 1:52 pm EST was a rumbling sound and immediately I thought a large branch was rolling down my roof, but I never heard anything fall onto my roof and it kept rolling and rolling and my roof is not that big! Definitely not a branch rolling down my roof! Then I heard the house creaking like it does when a really strong wind or hurricane (that would be a few days later...) blows through only more so. But that didn't seem quite right, either, because there wasn't even the slightest breeze outside. I looked out the window to confirm this and noticed the power lines were swaying, and then my house was swaying, and the flowers outside my window were swaying, too! I knew then it was an earthquake and then seconds later, it was over. I estimate that the whole thing lasted all of 45 seconds or so, but that's a long time when you're not sure if it is the beginning of something big right in your own neighborhood or the ripple of something happening far away. It's amazing how far reaching the tremors were for this one! There's an interesting map at the U.S. Geological Survey website that documents where earthquakes are felt by the public. You can see the results from last Wednesday's Virginia earthquake HERE. Click on the map on the right that is labeled "Zoomout Map" to see where this quake was felt.

Then on Thursday, my youngest daughter and I went to visit friends of ours who were renting a house at the New Jersey shore for the week. I have become good friends with the mother of my youngest's best friend over the last two years or so, and she is training for the Danskin Triathlon, too. We thought the girls would have a fun day together at the beach and she and I could practice our open water swim and maybe even bike and run, too. Except the weather was really lousy and there was a swimming ban in the ocean due to the impending hurricane.
From left to right, my youngest and her friend. 
It started to rain, so we didn't want to bike for safety reasons and while we could have gone for a run in the rain, instead we stayed indoors and played monopoly with the kids. In the evening we went out for dinner to a busy little Italian restaurant [Lenny's Pizza and Italian Grill in Lavallette, New Jersey] for some a wonderful meal. Everyone loved what they ordered. I had a personal chicken and pesto pizza with salad right on top of the pizza! It was so good!

We're very fortunate to have made it through the recent storm without too much stress or loss and while I know so many others have had and are still having a very difficult time recovering from the hurricane, here is my story of hurricane Irene and how it affected my family:

Saturday was spent preparing for the arrival of hurricane Irene that was predicted to come directly through our area. We charged cell phones, laptops, flashlight batteries; stored extra ice in the basement freezer; put the basketball hoop, patio furniture, garbage cans, flower planters into the garage; filled our cars with gas; got some extra cash (ATMs and credit cards won't work in a power outage); bought extra gallons of drinking water and then hoped for the best. On Saturday afternoon, our town issued a mandatory evacuation for hundreds of families whose homes lie along a small river that flows through our town by 8 pm that evening. Fortunately, we were not in the evacuation zone. A bit after nightfall, rain and wind started getting stronger and steadier.

Hurricane Irene arrived in full force here in the very early hours of Sunday morning, August 28, 2011, between midnight and 2 am. A window in our master bedroom was leaking the whole night, which I know is minimal compared to what was happening in other homes around the area, but I can't help but be especially aggravated because this window is in our 2 year old addition! I'm hoping it is just a matter of missing caulk on the top edge of this window where it meets the siding on the outside. That can be easily fixed. We lined the window sill and floor with rolled up towels for the interim. I had a very fitful night's sleep--waking up every hour because of the sounds of water dripping at the window and pouring through the gutters and the wind howling through the trees and from simply worrying so much.

At this time, our town is still under a state of emergency. Our family is among the very few, very lucky households who had power restored in so quickly. Most homes and businesses in our area are still without power and the electric company is saying it could be several more days before it is fully restored. A few friends are dropping by to take a hot shower, check their email, charge their cell phones and do some laundry. Oh, and of course a few of our daughters' friends will be coming over tonight to watch the season finale of "Pretty Little Liars." Small comforts, right? :)

Here is a picture of the gazebo in the park down the street from me at which I often run. The footpath runs right alongside the gazebo and is under about seven feet of water here:

Photo taken by my husband on
Sunday, August 28, 2011, approximately 3 pm EST.
Many homes were flooded so severely that their basements were completely submerged and there was even a few inches of water in the first floor of their homes! Even the police had to evacuate the police building due to flooding and are working out of a temporary site. Entire trees are lying across roads, on houses, or resting on power lines. The fire department is assisting families with pumping out their basements and they are asking for the main roads to stay clear for emergency personnel only. In the neighborhoods along the river [it's a small river that is stressed every time their is severe rainfall], people are using generators to pump out their homes while they wait for the fire department to assist with their heavy duty equipment. Belongings are laid out on lawns to dry out or in piles at the curb for garbage pick up. It's a sad situation, yet what a relief that no lives were lost in our surrounding area.

I hope this post finds you and your loved ones safe and sound from whatever came your way this past week!

Coming up next will be fun and happy vacation photos from Europe!  I promise! :)


  1. Oh wow. The picture of the gazebo really brings home how high the water is!

    I'm so glad that you are all fine and that damage is minimal, at least for you. My cousin in Princeton is in the same position as you - they came through fairly well, while others in their area have been completely flooded out.

    Can't wait to see your vacay photos - some happy news is due for us all.

  2. I'm glad you all made it through safely - that picture is a bit of an eye-opener! Hurricane Irene has been occupying the headlines here in the UK, sounds as though the clean-up is going tobe a long one.


  3. Glad to know you and your family made it through Irene with minimal damage and have your electricity back. The picture of the water surrounding the gazebo is stunning in showcasing how much flooding was caused by Irene.
    Hope your week improves!

  4. Thank you for posting this. I was getting really worried when I haven't seen any updates for a while, but thought if power was out, any emails I send would not get to you anyways. >_<

    I'm very glad to know you and your family are all safe and unharmed. The hurricane sounds (and looks) terrifying.

    Please keep up posted and let me know if you need anything! :)

    Horray for Pretty Little Liars!

  5. Thanks for the update. I was wondering about you all. So glad you came through relatively unscathed. My parents had water in their basement (not too much, fortunately) and my sister had 2 30-ft. trees go down over her driveway from the wind. Apparently, though, my brother-in-law enjoyed the chance to use his chainsaw and bulldozer to clean it up!

  6. Christine, I'm so glad you came through it all in good shape!

    We were lucky, lucky, lucky too (my whole family). We felt the rain and the wind, but our lights didn't even flicker. Our area is on high ground so we didn't see any flooding here at all. But as you know, we're close to some low lying areas and it's pretty bad there and there are people in desperate situations a couple of towns over. Transportation is still iffy, but hopefully getting back to normal up here by tomorrow.

  7. I'm really, really glad that your house has very little damage!! Wow, that gazebo!!! Incredible!!

    LOL at least, you were really prepared :)

    Looking forward to your vacation pictures!

  8. I'm so sorry the storm hit your town so hard :( but I'm glad you got the power back, and I hope your town bounces back soon.

    And earthquake, I know it's scary, though living in Mexico City you get used to the occasional one - earlier in the year we got, like three five pointers in a couple of weeks - and they kind of freak me out sometimes - when I think about them - but don't notice them as often. I hope that made sense.

  9. So happy you are OK! NJ really got it bad this time :(

    We were super lucky here as well... nothing of note. The winds and rain were outrageous, but no damage.

    Praying for all those affected, Irene's done a LOT of damage.

  10. Wow Christine! The water damage is just horrific for so many. My parents have property upstate N.Y. and I looked at youtube video showing the town they shopped in under water. What a shame for so many. My mom called me the day before she got out here to say I felt an earthquake! For me those are no longer a big deal, but flooding like that is too much. My mom and aunt were a wreck till they talked to all at home and found out it was ok in Brooklyn.


  11. Thank you all for the concern and good wishes you've shared in your comments.

    Lori... I'm glad your family in NJ is ok, too!

    Li.. Thanks so much for your concern! Believe me... seeing the flooding just down the street from us was eye opening for us, too!

    Brandy.. Thank you! The rest of the week has been better. : )

    little_alys... aw, thanks for the sweet thoughts. Did you watch the PLL finale? The girls had friends over to watch it, but I didn't want to cramp their style so didn't watch it with them. Maybe I'll watch it "on demand" with my youngest another time.

    Phyl.. Happy to hear your folks and sister are ok. I think that's great that your brother-in-law had fun doing the clean up with his "toys." LOL!

    Hilcia... I was wondering about you, too. But knowing where your house is, I figured you were spared the flooding part at least. Hope things are relatively back to normal by you.

    Alex.. I understand what you mean about the earthquake business. I'm sure most people who live in fault line areas like you do feel the same way. It's normal.

    Mariana.. Glad to hear you guys made out ok, too. I saw pictures of the parkway between your exit and mine--it looked like a river! Crazy!

    Paula.. The volume of water from this storm was staggering! Glad your loved ones are okay.

    The update for my area:
    A large portion of our neighborhood finally got power back on in the middle of the night last night after three and a half days without. There are still pockets of outages around. Like at my gym and it's going to be closed for a few more days still. The local grocery store opened on Tuesday, traffic lights are finally working again and most restaurants and businesses are open again, too.

    The first day of school was supposed to be Sept. 8 and is now delayed until Sept. 12. One school had some minor flooding on the first floor on one end of the building that needs to be cleaned up and another school was so badly flooded that it cannot be reopened for at least two months! They're going to have to displace upwards of 400 students to other locations, possibly temporary trailers or something. What a mess!

  12. I'm so glad you were safe! It sounds like you planned really well. Well done. I know it's been awful for so many. That is a crazy picture with the gazebo. When rain comes so fast and furious it just adds up.

  13. Am so glad you and yours came through OK. And that gazebo photo - scary!


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