Last updated on May 16, 2017 at 02:42 pm
This is the first in a series of posts written by Plymouth Rock employees who experienced the power of Hurricane Sandy firsthand. These authors want to share their experiences as they recover, and we encourage our readers to share their stories in the comments below.
Life in our Point Pleasant home is slowly getting back to normal after Hurricane Sandy. Looking back on the last several months there are many valuable lessons my family has learned. First and foremost is to leave when the state tells you to leave! After living on the water for over 10 years and surviving other hurricanes and nor’easters, we were lulled into a false sense of security. We stayed in our home and went to bed thinking everything would be okay. All it took was a shift in wind direction and it was too late to leave – our car was already under water and the water was quickly rising inside our house.
Since the storm, there has been an enormous amount of cleanup to do. Our first floor was the only area that had obvious water damage so we concentrated our efforts on mold remediation to the floor and walls on that level. Much to our surprise during routine cleaning on the second floor, we found mold in the roof rafters. We knew that since the mold was dark and new it was also a result of water damage from Sandy. The wind was so strong that it drove the water in and under the shingles. We didn’t even think to initially check for this.
The kitchen was our last room to tackle and I thought the most challenging. My fear was that all my cabinets and appliances would need replacing. Our homeowners insurance did not cover upper cabinets because they were not affected by the flood but did provide coverage for the lower ones. When power was finally restored, my refrigerator compressor would not turn on. I panicked about another $1,200 expense, but after some research, a new compressor cost me $5 and now my refrigerator works like new. As for my cabinets, since they are located on an exterior wall I plan to replace the sheetrock and insulation from the outside. I also learned that instead of replacing the entire series of cabinets I can just replace the peeling laminate.
Rebates for high-efficiency heat and water systems have been extended for at least another 6 months. The cost of moving pipes and wiring to the second floor along with creating the proper ventilation was well worth the cost vs. having to replace them again in the future if another storm hits.
Although some of life has returned to “normal”, what we’ve not yet been able to get back to normal is a sense of security. FEMA flood maps are still being finalized and as of now, our flood zone did not change but many of our neighbors’ zones have. This can be very tricky to deal with. According to FEMA and Governor Christie, no one is required to lift their house. The downside is that if you have a mortgage you will need flood insurance and the price for flood insurance for homes below the flood level could become very expensive. A caveat to that, as some of my neighbors have found out, is if the local municipalities get involved, there may be flood prevention ordinances that will require lifting the residence to FEMA levels in order to obtain a certificate of occupancy. I was glad my husband and I delayed in making some repairs. If we had rushed to put in tiles or a new floor, it could be severely damaged if we choose to raise our home. There are so many challenges we are still facing in rebuilding our lives back to “normal”.
The most difficult challenge for me throughout this experience was and continues to be the effect the storm had on my 9-year-old son. I cannot begin to imagine the fear and apprehension that went through my son’s mind wading through a foot of water in my first floor the night of the storm and the days immediately following until the water receded. To this day, the mention of a hurricane, nor’easter, heavy rainfall, or snow storm brings back the terrifying memories of the night of October 29 and causes him to instantly go to the window to check the water level or height of snow. It is so important to take advantage of any programs or activities that your school or town makes available for storm-affected children. I did not recognize that my son was feeling isolated and unimportant because he was not participating in these types of activities for students affected by Hurricane Sandy, and watching him struggle weighs on my heart and mind.
This storm came and went but the vulnerability of the people, places and things still remain.