Local caught in Hurricane Sandy

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Local caught in Hurricane SandyRidgecrest resident Ann Auld was back East when Hurricane Sandy hit. Her husband, Bruce Auld, and the rest of her family are incredibly relieved to have her back home safe and sound. Ann was in Westport, Conn., a seaside community, when Sandy hit, giving her a ringside seat to the powerful raw force of a hurricane.

As news sources have been reporting, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast at 8 p.m. on Oct. 29, slamming into Atlantic City and the New Jersey coast with torrential rains, howling winds and widespread flooding. Flood tides as high as 13 feet were recorded, and at least 16 people in seven states died as a result of the storm, the Associated Press reported.

The powerful storm transformed some of Atlantic City’s streets into rivers and inundated parts of lower Manhattan, with water cascading into Ground Zero and swamping New York’s financial district. Widespread power failures left an estimated 7.5 million people in the dark.

President Obama declared a major disaster in New York and New Jersey. By 4:30 a.m. Oct. 30, Sandy was classified a post-tropical cyclone. Sandy became an unusually large and dangerous storm system spanning nearly 1,000 miles. Fierce snowstorms dumped as much as two feet of snow across mountainous areas in southern Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland. Roads and bridges were closed, public transportation was shut down, and most federal employees were told to stay home.

Sandy soon became known as the Northeast’s Katrina. Damage was reported in Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and more. Homes were flooded with five feet of water, forcing residents to take shelter on second floors.

“They’re supposed to get hit with a nor’easter tomorrow,” said Ann in an interview yesterday. She had left New York on Oct. 28 to stay with friends in Westport. Their house, located on Edgewater Hillside, was across the street from the water and on the side of a hill, which gave them a big advantage.

“The people I was staying with knew what to do, after Hurricane Irene two years ago,” said Ann. Knowing the hurricane was coming, they were well prepared, and fired up their gas generator before Sandy struck “By 1 p.m., the governor of Connecticut had ordered that no one was to be driving on the streets. The regular tide was higher than usual, and high tide came up to the street. The people across the street, their garages and yards were already filling up with water.

“The power went out right after dinner, and there was no power for the rest of the week. There was always wind, but during the heavy gusts, you could hear the trees cracking and falling. There were fallen trees and downed wires all around us. You could see the wires sparking,” she said.

“There was a huge amount of noise, especially during the tremendous gusts, up to 100 miles per hour, when you heard the cracking of the branches and trees. One thing surprised me — there wasn’t that much rain. We had the wind and high tide — the tide caused the water damage where we were.

“I pretty much felt safe where I was. The people were very helpful, and they were prepared. We were very fortunate, compared to a lot of people. We had plenty of food, water and all the supplies we needed. They had a fireplace where we roasted hot dogs and s’mores. There was a six-year-old girl there, and she was pretty scared.”

Ann said she learned to appreciate the little things, such as running water. “We couldn’t shower all week. You just automatically go to turn something on and then remember, oh, yes, you can’t. But everyone was very helpful — there were neighbors helping neighbors. People came to check on us. In Connecticut you could always get gas, unlike New York,” she said.

She said she was unable to get out because of a huge uprooted tree, surrounded by downed electric wires, across the road out. But she and her hosts could get out and walk around to check out the damage.

“We were stuck there two days. The water had receded, but there were piles of debris left behind. It was just amazing. A neighbor boy found an Adidas sandal. It was his, He’d lost it two years before on the beach and it washed up.”

She took pictures with her cell phone of the damage, including a shot showing the street covered so thickly with sand that it looked like the beach had relocated.

Her flight home was cancelled for several days. “And then I got home, thankfully. I’ll never complain about the wind in Ridgecrest again.”

Story First Published: 2012-11-07