On October 30, the morning after Hurricane Sandy smashed through the east coast, Millburn, New Jersey did not look like Staten Island. Nor did it look like Rockaway Beach. Or Seaside Heights, Atlantic City and all the other demolished shoreside towns up and down the Jersey shore. Power and heat were out. Roads were closed. Soon there would be gas lines. Still, this town was lucky to have been merely inconvenienced compared to some of the more devastated parts of the state.
How about half the streets in town looked the next day.
I spent the morning after the storm walking around taking pictures. Partly to survey the damage, but also because our electricity was out and there was almost no cell phone reception, so there wasn’t much else to do.
I would have uploaded these photos sooner, but it would be another nine days before power on my block was restored. (I have a desktop computer, so working at the town library wasn’t really an option.)
Debris blocking Glen Avenue.
Wild turkeys from the nearby South Mountain Reservation, foraging in the morning.
When Hurricane Irene struck in 2011, parts of the nearby Rahway River overflowed, turning Millburn’s main thoroughfare into a raging river.
This time around, stores all along Millburn’s main drag were heavily barricaded with sandbags, ready for the floodwaters that thankfully never arrived.
A local furniture store braced for the storm.
The town hardware store, letting residents know they were open for business the morning after the storm.
Although Millburn didn’t experience any catastrophic flooding, there was severe damage throughout the town in other ways. One stretch of Millburn Ave, above, looked a bit like a war zone.
Another street totally out of commission after the storm.
A downed transformer on Millburn Ave. When heavy winds knocked it over on the night of the storm, a series of multi-colored explosions lit the sky up.
Halloween, another casualty of Hurricane Sandy.
The battery-powered combination radio/lantern - a constant companion. We listened to WNYC, New York City’s NPR affiliate, a good 8-12 hours a day for the duration of the blackout.
Along with losing power for nine days, we had no heat. My cat became fast friends with the fireplace during this time.
Luckily, we did have working gas. Keeping the stove lit with pots of water boiling helped a little in keeping the house warm, particularly when temperatures dipped near freezing around the 8th day of the blackout.
Above: a highly unusual site - the Millburn train station parking lot empty on a week day. (On a normal day, spots are completely gone by the time the 7:27 departs.) Millburn is on NJ Transit’s Morris-Essex line, still out of service.
I mentioned this before but it bears repeating: I am very aware (and extremely grateful) that Hurricane Sandy left me, for the most part, merely inconvenienced for a week or so. Our trains are down. We lost power and heat (some are still without), roads and schools were closed and gas was rationed (that’s still going on too). And all throughout, our cell phones (particularly those of us with AT&T) were often useless. But compared to many, many communities in New York and New Jersey, Millburn was essentially spared the brunt of the storm.
I’ll conclude with a quick shout-out to one group of New Jerseyans who were decidedly NOT spared by Sandy: WFMU, the amazing independent, 100% listener-supported freeform radio station and pride of Jersey City. Sandy brought substantial electrical damage to the station, and the power outage in New York City forced the station to cancel it’s annual Record Fair, a huge chunk of their fundraising.
To find out more about WFMU, including how to help in the station’s storm-recovery efforts, click here.
You can find more of my photos from Hurricane Sandy here.
Find me on Twitter here.