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I Didn’t Want To Look
by Allan Appel | Oct 31, 2012 11:53 am
Posted to: Fair Haven, Superstorm Sandy
As I returned Tuesday to my evacuated home from Superstorm Sandy, I was in no rush to check out the damage.
Unlike my neighbors at Front Street’s Oyster Cove condominiums, I hadn’t exactly battened down the hatches before complying with the city’s mandatory evacuation order. So first I checked in to see how they were doing.
“Yesterday it was ten dollars a bag. Now [it’s] free.”
That’s how one of my neighbors at Front Street’s Oyster Cove condominiums priced the 32 bags, or 1,920 pounds, of Quickrete tube sand that was the centerpiece of the barricade he had deployed Sunday against Superstorm Sandy.
My neighbor was dismantling his defense before noon as we pulled in to examine the effects of the high tide and the high surge from Monday night.
I lingered with my neighbor, in part because it would delay opening my own door to see what Sandy had wrought there.
As neighbors untaped, and swept, and began to drag wet items to a corner of the condo complex for later pick up, the general sentiment was that a meteorological bullet had been dodged down by the Quinnipiac.
My neighbor’s garage was wet up to about a foot, so his sand was adequate if hardly foolproof. He surmised that a lot of water seeped in from his neighbor, who had not sandbagged.
Condominiums, which have rules for what you can and cannot do on the exterior, have no bylaws to my knowledge about sandbagging requirements.
Just as I was about to suck it up and go see how my makeshift barricades and duct tape had done, Fair Haven District Manager Sgt. Anthony Zona drove in.
The previous night’s fearful tide, timed to arrive at 11:53 p.m., “came very quickly,” said Zona. By 11:00 it was receding. He said he and his officers were driving about the area until 2:30 a.m. to assess if anyone was in trouble and to report in.
Another car pulled in. This was my almost adjacent neighbor, Len Schiraldi. He stopped beside Zona and said, “Thank you very much for keeping an eye on this place.”
“The water would have been one story high” if Sandy had fulfilled her most dire predictions, someone else said.
So while neighbors were slogging through wet garages and dampened and crawl spaces and dampened foyers, they fortunately found no water in first-floor living rooms.
I was beginning to be more hopeful that I’d find something similar at my place.
What had been described as a “perfect storm,” apparently became just unperfect enough to spare us riverine dwellers in Fair Haven a devastating wipe out.
All right, the time had arrived: I first spied a cracked garage door at the base by the handle. While my friend picked up the logs from my small pile by the front door, dispersed by the waters, I noticed the water line on the clapboard and screen door: maybe three feet.
I opened the door to the foyer and found not even any puddling.
Then the door to the garage: Here the force of the water had toppled my two kayaks. I didn’t have time to remove several boxes of old books that I had been using to prop the kayaks off the concrete floor.
Alas, the books were sentimental if not collector’s items, all in Frank Baum’s famous series. So long to The Gnome King of Oz. I’d cart these boxes to the Dumpster delivery site later.
Otherwise, in the main part of the house, water leakage from the second floor doors was less than previous nor’easters.
The best news: Both barricades, my Rube Goldberg contraption on the porch level and a jammed dresser on the second level, were intact.
As I left, I felt relieved and lucky, though not any more competent in these matters in the face of the power of the tides and the storms. The most knowledgeable and pricey defenders had not done much better.
But the worst feeling: Many times I have told friends how blessed I feel being able to live by the water and I don’t ever want to leave. Now I was not so sure.
Outside, condo association President Rich Capozzi rightly took credit for securing the docks and pilings, none of which had been lost. He knelt down beside one of the pilings without an extender where the dock had risen high enough to pop the retainer ring off the top. Had the extenders not been placed on the other pilings, “the entire system would have risen and floated away,” Capozzi said.
Then he added: “We didn’t lose one finger [dock]. That’s hero-like stuff. I should wear a cape.”
Previous installment of Allan Appel’s storm diary: