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VAXman 11-06-2012 09:21 AM

Sandy -- the aftermath
Many have asked me about the storm and how we weathered (no pun intended) it. I'd relayed some details in the shout box but I figured it best to put the details here once and refer those who ask to this thread.

We seemed to be going quite well on Monday evening when Sandy was to make her landfall. At that time, landfall was predicted to be 20:00EDT. By 21:00 EDT, I was thinking that we might come out of this unscathed and I was shouting about it in the AM shout box. A few short minutes later, the shit hit the fan.

A number of large trees began to fall. One too out the power line one street over. I'm assuming that when the lines fell, the high tension feeds shorted to the community neutral line. The transformer on the pole outside my home and on the poles all about my neighborhood began to explode. When the transformer outside my home exploded, it must have sent a strong surge current through the line which caused my largest UPS to have all of its power transistors explode and catch fire. The basement was filled with noxious smoke and smell, but this was easily aired out by opening windows in the midst of Sandy's furry. Yes, I had a generator and it was immediately fired up. However, there was little desire at that time to bring the computers back on-line because the communications lines were severed too. There was uncanny quite in the VAXcave for the next week.

Reports had stated that we might not have our power restored for as many as 10 days. Because of this, I became very conservative with the use of the generator due to the limited fuel (16 gallons of gasoline). I ran the generator for 2-3 hours at a shot and then turned it off for 4 hours to conserve the fuel. My intent was to keep the freezer, refrigerator and, yes, the beer cold. Radio report said that people were stealing generators so, overnight, the generator was powered off and locked securely in my garage.

Tuesday morning I drove about my community to witness the carnage of Sandy. While our home fared quite well, others were not so lucky. Many of my neighbors had trees which fell on their homes. In my area, there are some very old growth oaks and maples. Their height and the fact that oaks lose their leaves very late in the season meant that these trees were ripe for being felled by Sandy's nearly 100 mile per hour winds. Many of the streets were completely impassable. The fire emergency crews and several local tree companies cleared the fallen trees to allow for roadway passage by the end of the first day.

Day two (Wednesday), I rolled the generator out to the patio to start it up and I put a huge gash in my left forearm as I pushed it through the back garage door. I had no intention of seeking stitches at the hospital emergency room and there was no superglue in the house. I put a large compression bandage on it to hold back the bleeding. Because I'm on Coumadin, a blood thinner, it takes a much longer time for severe lacerations to heal. After starting the generator, I grabbed the now empty 5 gallon gas can and set out in search of gasoline.

At the far end of town there was a QuickCheck convenience store with gas pump and it was operational. I pulled into the queue and hoped that by the time I got to the pumps, they'd still have some gas. As I waited, I fired up the car's router and cellular internet. I was able to get enough signal to telnet to the Deathrow OpenVMS cluster where I have an account. The good Dr. Dot also has an account there. I left him an email telling him that we were all fine and that he should relay that to you concerned moonies. 4 hours on queue and I was finally rewarded with the opportunity to purchase a limited ($40) amount of gasoline. I filled the 5 gallon can and the rest of the purchase went into my vehicle's tank.

Some grocers were open and running on backup generator. Law prescribes that they are not permitted to sell chilled or frozen goods if the temperature of the chillers exceeds some prescribed temperature. So, the dairy, frozen foods and deli were roped off and no sales of those items was permitted. Bread? None to be found. Bottled water? None to be found. Batteries? Only small hearing aid batteries were still on the display hooks. Junk food abounded. Two days later, I dropped into the same grocer to get candles which were, by now, were waning wax. The smell of spoiled food in the air was nauseating.

As you all probably know more than I from having access to communications, the NJ shoreline has been devastated. Tens of thousands, as of this writing an entire week later, still have no electric power. The weather is cold and without power, people cannot heat their homes. Gas is now being rationed on an odd/even schedule based on the vehicle's license tag number. We have natural gas in our home but without electricity, the fan to circulate the heat will not run. We heated the house by cooking and baking.

Sunday morning, I decided to get the gang up and loaded them into the vehicle for a trek to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant (several moonies are familiar with this particular Cracker Barrel as they'd eaten there). Upon arriving home, we saw several utility trucks (TECO -- Tampa Electric), tree service trucks and communications company trucks pulling out onto the main drag (Rt. 526) from our community. I parked the vehicle in the driveway and opened the front door to a pleasant surprise -- electric power and communications restored!

It will be months/years until the NJ shore is back to normal -- if ever? -- and life here is still a long way from normal but we're here safe and with a home -- too many cannot say the same.

Preparation and emergency planning -- like tying the pergola down to the garden tractor, having a generator and a sufficient supply of fuel, food, water, batteries, etc. -- got us through this. The sewer system seems to have recovered as there is no more shit coming up in the basement laundry's slop sink. I'll have to replace the blown UPS but, for now, I can run on line power. The only concern is that tomorrow, we may be reliving this past week's ordeal all over again because of a noreaster heading our way tomorrow.

ErikM 11-06-2012 10:02 AM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Glad to hear you and M are safe Vaxman. And glad to see Aural Moon is back !



ramsgate 11-06-2012 11:07 AM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
WOW Vax, what an ordeal as well as an adventure. keep safe and watch out for looters. Put a sign up LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT!! LOL.

Diff_Drummer 11-06-2012 11:31 AM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Glad you and the family made it through OK. You were in our prayers.

cumquott 11-06-2012 11:43 AM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Are you gonna sign a movie deal, so you can live it over and over???

All kidding aside, it was a bitchin storm. Hope everyone affected recovers what they can, and quickly, so they can return to better days.

mailotron 11-06-2012 02:30 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
dramatic really dramatic, hang on VAX

deSousa 11-06-2012 04:29 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Friends of mine emigrated to NJ a few months ago. They were without power or water for a week and were forced to sleep at some neighbour's, sparing their baby to the cold.

Many of the things we take for granted every day are actually reliant on relatively vulnerable netwroks, power, water, food. Luckily it will all come back to normal, but it is a good remainder of how dependent we are on each other.

Best wishes VAX, I hope that laceration to be the worst consequence.

mariocc 11-06-2012 05:22 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
here we have lived or experienced many times earthquakes,,the biggest just 2 years ago. What you feel when nature hits everyone in a huge scale like that and like recent events in US it s very impressive,,first you think in your family,,then in people you know and people you could know,,,home,,,and then tons of images,,,,etc etc. Just send best wishes to VAX and family,,from this situation sometimes it show up many good things,,,,and maybe ,,another view to see what you always have had.

emperorken 11-06-2012 05:46 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
It's almost like reading a disaster novel. Glad you came out relatively unscathed. Hope everyone recovers quickly.

tobytanzer 11-06-2012 08:36 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Glad you escaped relatively undamaged, thanks to good fortune and good preparation. Luckily, Tom Gagliardi also had minimal damage to his home on the beach, as per his FB postings. Many of us were worried, and not just because we had no AM website.
Thanks again and again for all you do for the Moon.

VAXman 11-07-2012 09:15 AM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Many of the Ocean County (my home county) shore towns are no more. There are places here where I took the Euro-moonies when they visited with me the week prior to RoSfest that no longer exist -- well, they exist but they don't look ANYTHING like they did before. I have great doubts that there will be a quick resolution to this nightmare for many that resided in these towns.

As for the comments about things we take for granted and rely upon...

Like a pavlonian dog, I kept reaching for the light switch when I entered darkened rooms and my garage. It's a reflex we've all developed in our 21st century, everything's electric, lives. The morning's coffee is usually brewed by the time I get up because of an automatic electric drip coffee maker. To make coffee, I had to fill the kettle with water, put it on the stove to boil and then pour the water over the coffee grounds in the drip maker's basket. I usually use whole bean and grind my coffee fresh, but because of the forewarning about possible long periods without power, I purchased a bag of pre-ground coffee. That's really roughing it! :)

Without power and communications for the week was a bit unnerving for this, yours truly, internet junkie and workaholic. However, I didn't sit about twiddling my thumbs either. I took the time to do some maintenance on the equipment here. All of the servers (AM's included) were unracked, taken outside and thoroughly cleaned. I went through 2 large cans of compressed air blowing all of the accumulated dust from the insides of the boxes. One almost didn't get cleaned because I could not find the key to open its case. I then remembered that I had a master key for these particular barrel locks. I also cleaned up some of the ethernet cabling.

I finally got wired Gigabit ethernet working on my HP Envy 17.3" laptop which is running Ubuntu Linux. I also installed and configured an Alpha processor emulator on the Envy laptop. During the brief 2-3 hour periods that I had the generator running, I reconfigured the routers here too. The main router now also has it's radios configured to provide another wireless network. The pavlonian impulses also came to light while I was doing these tasks. I found myself, on several occasions, trying to Google for some information I wanted. Hmm... the peal of the bell and I began to drool! :-o~

Because I'd lost one of my UPS, I had to wire up a power distribution panel to get the systems back up running when power was restored. A trip to several home supplies and an electrical supply were needed to get all the parts... Places like Lowes and Home Depot, strangely, had their electrical part aisles fairly well picked clean. Apparently, people were making their own electrical connections for generators when the cache of electrical extension cables went fallow. I salvaged the the L6-30 from the UPS and used it because I couldn't find such a plug anywhere. This is the 250V/split-neutral found on many heavy-duty generators. I'm guessing that people bought these to wire their generators into their home distribution panels as whole-house units. Dangerous for the repair linemen if the panel's main breaker is not turned off.

NorCalKurt 11-07-2012 09:33 AM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
All that being said, you made it. I'm glad you and M are ok. We all are very grateful for your dedication to AM. Let us know if we can be of help. Hang on for the next round.

As for being prepared. all need is back up power. I have all the rest covered. ;)

dangerboy 11-07-2012 01:20 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Congratulations VAX, I'm glad that you made it through a very difficult time. The AM web site was severely missed, so thank you for your continued dedicated support.

Magic Mountain 11-07-2012 04:22 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
I am doing as good as can be expected (Stockton NJ). I feel lucky compared to other folks. No damage to the house; a lot of trees down on my property. Pretty much cut off from society, no power, cable, phones (even cell) at my property. Best thing I did last year was hard-wire a generator to my house. About the house is powered up, so I have heat and hot water. I do not expect the power to be back until November 11 at the earliest.

VAXman 11-07-2012 05:12 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath

Originally Posted by Magic Mountain (Post 50113)
I am doing as good as can be expected (Stockton NJ). I feel lucky compared to other folks. No damage to the house; a lot of trees down on my property. Pretty much cut off from society, no power, cable, phones (even cell) at my property. Best thing I did last year was hard-wire a generator to my house. About the house is powered up, so I have heat and hot water. I do not expect the power to be back until November 11 at the earliest.

JCP&L by any chance?

JCP&L are taking a beating for their lackluster performance getting power restored. Perhaps, they should put their anal union mantra on hold and permit the various non-union assistance that have come here from other states to help do their job!!!

dinosaur 11-10-2012 04:13 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Glad to hear you're okay, VAX. I hope you and your family and neighbors get back to safe and sound again soon.

Magic Mountain 11-10-2012 06:29 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
Just got power back...been going through moon withdrawl. Yes, I have JCP&L :(

VAXman 11-10-2012 07:45 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath

Originally Posted by Magic Mountain (Post 50123)
Just got power back...been going through moon withdrawl. Yes, I have JCP&L :(

Welcome back to the 21st century. Power was restored here about 21:30 last evening and it certainly wasn't expected.

tobytanzer 11-10-2012 10:54 PM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath
My parents taught me that when you get a free ride you need to offer some "gas" money. Send a few to Vaxman - Paypal it to if you appreciate all he does for the station.

VAXman 11-12-2012 08:53 AM

Re: Sandy -- the aftermath

Originally Posted by tobytanzer (Post 50125)
My parents taught me that when you get a free ride you need to offer some "gas" money. Send a few to Vaxman - Paypal it to if you appreciate all he does for the station.

Thank you! I like the "gas money" analogy; especially, since I spent so much money on gas to power the generator here for 2 weeks.

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