As darkness fell, the winds gradually increased in speed. Our trees that had been gently swaying became angry and bent violently, driven one direction and then another. The bamboo shook with fury, scattering the poor birds still trying to roost. We know that hurricanes come with bands of wind, so after a fierce dance with Sandy, the trees would stand silent and serene for several minutes. It was eerie.
Fred said to hurry with dinner and get out of the kitchen with its wall of windows. We were spooked when we heard a loud crash against the side of the house. Earlier in the day we had taken bedding and supplies downstairs and two twin mattresses into our spare room. The girls and I would sleep crosswise on them during the storm. Fred said he needed to be upstairs to watch over the house. I think he didn't relish a night on the floor. Good thing too. His phone rang all night as his work crew at church called with their questions and concerns. The men were manning the generators.
Right when we were getting ready for sleep, the electricity went out. The girls were excited with the candles and lanterns and flashlights. That stuff is fun--temporarily. I was glad it was time to go to bed anyway and hopefully we would have power in the morning. But what else would we face in the morning? I didn't want to think about that. So Fred went upstairs and we settled in on the mattresses on the floor in our windowless room against a bank of earth on one side. Safe. Dominic has always said he likes sleeping there because it is so dark and silent. It is, and we all fell quickly to sleep.
I was awakened by a beep-beep-beep-beep. What in the world was that? Arielle's ipod in its dock? A smoke detector? I got a flashlight and went to investigate. It was the box where our phone service comes in from the street, letting us know it was on battery back-up. Okay. But how to make it stop beeping? It wouldn't turn off and I couldn't sleep with that beep-beep-beep-beep every 30 seconds all night long. Awake so long, I listened to the roar of the wind. It is true when people say it sounds like a train during a storm. I peeked out the window but the rain made it impossible to see anything. Then there was a knocking on the back wall of the basement. What was that? And cracking of branches from the woods. Scary sounds. We had prayed for safety. God would see us through whatever happened.
I finally fell asleep near dawn when the beeping faded to four little chirps as the battery on the box wore down. I heard Fred up and we looked out to survey the damage. Amazingly, there was little! A few branches in the yard. Our lilac tree split in half, but it did not fall across the deck. Fred's tarps covering the cords of wood were shredded. The bamboo was battered. A big pine tree had fallen across the road. That's about it. We are very thankful to God.
We still had no power. My resourceful husband had prepared for this. He had the Coleman camping stove set up with the old percolator and he made coffee and I made oatmeal for breakfast. It was chilly so Fred made a fire in the woodstove. He got the generator going for the refrigerator and he hooked up the TV so we could see what had happened the night before. I realize that in a time of uncertainty, you really desire news from the outside world. It was bad news for many people in New York and New Jersey. The devastation was incredible. We are very fortunate.
The electricity came on later in the day. Damien sent an e-mail titled "close call." This tree would have fallen on the room where Gretchen has been sleeping with the baby if the other tree had not caught it. God is good.