According to the stormtracker maps I've seen, the eye of the storm passed a mere five miles from our home, right through the heart of Delaware County. Thankfully, we're far enough inland that the storm had lost some of its gusto by the time it arrived in ol' Delco, but that's certainly not to say that its impact wasn't felt.
The eye technically hit around 8 pm on Monday evening, but the storm started rolling through Sunday afternoon. By Sunday evening we knew we were in for a doozy, school had been called off for Monday and Tuesday, the stores were cleared out of the basic essentials, and everybody was prepared to hunker down.
Wind gusts reached about 70 mph as the eye rolled through Delco. Strong, sure, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. As the eye approached we watched the excitement from our front windows, occasionally even braving it by stepping out briefly on our front porch. As bright greenish hue lights flashed in the sky, we at first thought it was lightning accompanying the storm, only later to find out that it was explosions of electric power transformers as people's power went out.
Thankfully, somehow or other our power never went out. The same can't be said for everybody in our area. We were a minority for sure. PECO is reporting some 800,000 customers in the Delaware Valley alone who went without power for some period of time -- my parents who live a few miles from us were without power from Monday evening until Wednesday afternoon.
That picture up above? That's about a block from my son's school, and that would be the reason school was also called off for Wednesday. No power = No school. The picture was actually taken on Thursday evening, and as you can see the tree that originally fell and took out the telephone pole had been cleaned up, but PECO was still monitoring the safety of downed wires as they awaited the crews to restore power. (The school ended up cranking up the emergency generators for Thursday, limited power but better than nothing. I guess they realized those kids needed to get out of the house!!)
From a work perspective, we're currently working on a retaining wall project with modular block units. I made a point on Friday as the storm approached to make sure we were at a point where our work wouldn't be washed out. Lower courses had been installed in advance of the storm and backfilled with gravel, but still I was a little nervous about just how much clean-up would be necessary after the storm.
Thankfully once again, the damage was minimal. Sure the site was strewn with sticks and leaves, but no mudslides or washouts -- everything held up just fine.
The biggest impact that I felt work-wise was the loss of one of my employees who is an Army Reservist. Last Friday Russ was texted and alerted me that he was being deployed in advance of the storm to help with clean-up and emergency rescue as necessary. When I texted him on Tuesday he told me that he would be out the remainder of the week and he wouldn't be home until this weekend. I don't have details as to exactly what he has been doing, but I know there is plenty of opportunity for him to help out across the state.
And Halloween? Well its relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, but as my kids heard the storm was approaching, they began chanting "Go away Sandy, we want candy!!" Our town ended up having Halloween as usual, but many local municipalities ended up pushing back the trick-or-treating until the weekend, helping to keep police and fire personnel available for clean-up and rescue.
All things considered, we got lucky. Personally, no power outages, property damage, or any other losses. Across Delaware County... ? Sure there were plenty of downed trees, power outages, and even some small creek flooding. But nothing too devastating.
No the real devastation was along the coastal areas, particularly the Jersey Shore. The storm first made landfall right at Atlantic City. And while the storm was technically listed as either a Category 1 or a "Post-tropical" storm (whatever that means), the real impact was felt not by the winds or the rainfall, but rather by the tidal surge in conjunction with the strong full moon tides. Parts of the Jersey shore were completely wiped out -- boardwalks, fishing piers, homes, and businesses wiped away to nothing.
We've spoken with a few friends and neighbors who have Shore houses, and some don't have any clue as of yet as to the state of their properties. And they're hearing it will be at least a week until they will be allowed to check them out.
Our thoughts and best wishes are with everybody who has been impacted by the storm. The best and most important news is that everybody stayed safe and human injuries were few. And a special thanks and shout-out to all of our emergency personnel, whether you're a fireman, police officer, EMT, Reservist, National Guard, power crew, municipal worker, or any other professional working to keep us safe and as comfortable as possible. Thank you!
We'll be back next week with the conclusion to my hardscaping series.