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Oklahoma

Oklahoma. Enough said.
Or, not much else to say, I should say.

Watching the news yesterday as the tornado wreaked havoc and leveled a town to debris, I couldn’t even process in my head what was going on there.

I thought back to end of October, when Sandy — a minimal storm [not even categorized as an “official” hurricane] caused utter destruction in my town and in NJ/NY in general. I remember thinking in the aftermath of Sandy’s destruction that I can’t even fathom what the end result is of Category 4 or 5 hurricanes, if  “superstorm” Sandy left so much destruction.  If that little storm caused so much damage, I don’t even want to think of what this tornado did/was capable of doing.

Just this past Sunday, we finally got the last of the damaged items cleared away in our backyard [shed and other items completely destroyed by the two trees that fell on them]. Repairing and replacing the damaged fence, removing the fallen trees took so long. Driving through town, damage is still evident — missing sidings in houses, missing/broken fences being the most obvious ones.

It took weeks to get back to a “new normal” in the aftermath of Sandy — rationed gases, grocery essentials missing from grocery stories, etc. Even when our grocery store got power back, they couldn’t carry perishables because electricity was so unpredictable.

How do you rebuild a whole town in the aftermath of such tornadoes? Schools, hospitals, residential areas are gone. Where does one even start? I don’t even know how a town reels from something on such a larger scale, when a minimal storm changed so much for us.

Hearing about the missing school children has especially gotten to me. I can’t, and don’t even want to, imagine what the parents must be feeling/going through. Yet, the heroic stories emerging about teachers? Something to smile about, that’s for sure. Teachers don’t get the credit they deserve. Every time I hear a teacher say “they are just doing their job” in the aftermath of something like this — whether it be a man-made tragedy, acts of God, mother nature, whatever… I want to remind them that they do so much more than “their job”. For that, I thank them. Not many do.

It’s remarkable to think in the aftermath of Newtown and Oklahoma especially — so many stories of so many educators risking their own lives for their students. Each time, they say something to the likes of “these are OUR kids”. The roles they take on are many, and sometimes an educator falls quite low when you think of all that they do for so many children each and everyday.

On a side note, if you know me, you know I’ve always wanted to go to Oklahoma! Not even sure why, but it’s been on my to-do list for the longest time.

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A Storm to Remember

The last few days have been an absolutely whirlwind with Hurricane Sandy hitting us. In all the years we have lived here, we have never experienced anything like it or its aftermath.

If you were lucky enough to not be in its path and/or have never experienced a Hurricane, I can’t begin to explain to you how eerie it sounds. Throw in watching the crazy wind outside your window along with rain — it’s scary. Times a million.

At the height of the storm, two trees were knocked down in our backyard. One, at the back of our backyard (our neighbors tree fell into our backyard) following a loud (and terrifying) bang.

Under that fallen tree, is what to used to be our shed (that was collapsed by the tree).

The other: terrifyingly close to our patio door in our family room where we were sitting riding out the storm. Watching this tree sway uncontrollably and knowing it was inevitable was insane. Worse was not knowing what direction it would fall in.

Luckily, it barely missed our house:

Terrifyingly close, but so grateful.

Tuesday morning we took a drive around our area to see the aftermath, and it was devastating:  fallen trees along with downed wires everywhere that were quite hazardous. A couple of houses had trees fall on them (hopefully no one was injured inside!).

We were lucky enough to not lose power until about 8 PM on Monday right at the height of the storm as it was hitting land (others lost it as early as that afternoon). Altogether, we lost power for 40 hours before it was restored in the early afternoon on Wednesday.

In all honestly, the worst part of the power outage was the lack of heating. I am usually always cold on a normal day, so it was especially trying for me (wearing multiple layers and sleeping with just many over me got me through it along with hand warmers).

While this 40 hours of no electricity was no fun and very trying in many ways, it was a good reminder of how much we take for granted on a daily basis. Multiples times I had to remind myself that it is the norm for so many around the world to be without electricity and lack of resources on a regular basis. We have so much to be thankful for, yet we take it for granted. It’s been a humbling experience for sure.

Just in this experience alone: we were so fortunate to not too much rain, and therefore flooding wasn’t an issue. With Hurricane Irene last year (which was weaker than this storm), we had flooding as a major issue in our area (and in our basement). To see the devastation with the flooding in some areas with Hurricane Sandy, it is hard to fathom what would have happened if we had more rain. A combination of more rain and the downed wires would have been a recipe for disaster.

I was also positively surprised that PSE&G was able to restore our power after just 40 hours. While the 40 hours seemed incredibly long, in the grand scheme of things — it was barely anything — especially considering how massive and widespread the storm hit.

I’ve said it over and again in the last few days: Hurricane Sandy was barely a Category One when it hit us. I can’t begin to fathom the aftermath and destruction of anything more, let alone Category Five storms.

Something to smile about:

After all the devastation that hit our area, look at that nest that is still in tact after the storm in our neighbor’s yard.

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Flood

Driving up north today, I definitely got a reality check.

Watching the news coverage on the flood and intense rain in the last week or so just doesn’t give it justice.

Here is one photo I quickly snapped from my phone earlier today:

Yes, that’s flooding up to the branches pretty much.

We saw parks completely flooded. Stop signs with rain more than three quarters covering it. Soccer posts being over half under water. We saw towns completely empty and businesses shut down because they were flooded. To see all of the hairs and tables at a Wendy’s outside the restaurant because it was completely damage is just one example.

And here I was thinking we had it bad. When we had to clean up the basement flooding for just one night.

Sure we had road closures all around us and we were pretty much stuck at home, but…

We still had power during the worst of the storm.

Our area suffered little to no damage in the aftermath of the storm.


P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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Thanks Hurricane Irene

Thanks to Hurricane Irene, our family spent Saturday night de-flooding (un-flooding?) taking all of the water out of our basement. What else could we have wanted to do on a Saturday night, right? In all honesty, my brother and dad did most of it because I couldn’t do much.

But in all seriousness, we were VERY lucky!

Minimal damage, power stayed on, and no serious injuries in our area. Many weren’t so lucky, and I know how fortunate we are and I hope everyone else effected by Hurricane Irene is okay.

I had no idea how badly the main street off of our road was flooded, considering our street was fine (as in the streets didn’t flood, it just went into all of our basements). Seriously, Saturday night, us and at least three or four of our neighbors were up all night getting all the water out.

To give you an idea of how bad our main street is, click here to see my tweet earlier! Absolutely insane. Because our county has declared an emergency, only emergencies are warranted in being outside… which means I had no clue our street was like that until someone put the video on Twitter. Gotta love technology!

To the hurricane itself now —

It was much more mitigated than anticipated thankfully. All Saturday night we had crazy wind, heavy rain, and lightning after lightning that brighten up the night time sky. By the time Irene hit land in NJ Sunday morning, and we thought we would experience the worst of it… we didn’t! 🙂

We had a tornado watch for pretty much all Saturday night, and thankfully nothing came of that either.

After being up for over 24 hours, I fell asleep a little after 9 AM for about 40 minutes and missed the TV coverage of it hitting NY.

After Irene passed, however, winds picked up fast and were present throughout! We definitely had higher winds in our area after the hurricane! In our backyard, branches fell off and fences were broken… but again, damage was very minimal compared to what could have been!

As I mentioned before, my biggest worry was power outage — while the lights flickered on and off, our power stayed on!

It’s funny and sad at the same time how many people were disappointed that Hurricane Irene wasn’t as powerful as anticipated and that it weakened. As someone pointed out on Twitter, only would NY-ers be disappointed that a hurricane didn’t hit them and cause damage instead of realizing how fortunate they are.

Crazy lightning and thunderstorm, earthquake, hurricane irene and tornado watches all in the span of a few days — am I the only one ready for a peaceful rest of the year? Not to mention two blizzards this past winter plus and a very hot and humid summer.

The snow, I don’t mind of course! 🙂 Give me a snow storm any day!

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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Prepping for Hurricane Irene

Non perishable food and bottled water has been bought. Flashlights are at arm’s distance. Bags have been packed in case we need to evacuate. Cookies have been baked 🙂

Oh and rain and wind has picked up.

Are we ready? As ready as we’ll ever be.

I’ll take the crazy wind, rain, and possible flooding… I’m just hoping the power stays on!

Irene is supposed to hit us around 8 PM tonight, so let’s see what happens. Praying for the best, and the safety of those effected by Hurricane Irene.

If your area is under the evacuation zones, LEAVE. Is it really worth the risk? I don’t think so.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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Did You Feel It?

“Did you feel it?” It’s probably the number one question being asked along all of the east coast on the United States.

Living in New Jersey (or any part of the east cost), you don’ really expect earthquakes.

Barring crazy thunderstorms (and your house being struck by lightning) and snow storms, we are fortunate enough to live in area that is rather safe from things like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes (that can cause damage/harm)… stuff like this just doesn’t happen here!

The first time I felt it, I thought I was dizzy or something and the first thing I did was google “earthquake in central jersey” — what can I say? I was born and raised in a tech-savvy era! When I felt it for a second time, I knew I wasn’t imagining it.

Fortunately there was no major damage and even better — no major injuries!

Where were you when the earthquake hit? Did you feel it?

By the way, if you felt the earthquake, you can check how intense the earthquake hit your area by clicking here!


P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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Snow

Exactly a month after the blizzard last month, we got another huge snow storm yesterday into today.

I’m not sure what the exact amounts are yet, but definitely in the 15+ inches range for sure.

Here are some pictures. The first two are from yesterday and the rest are from today:

that’s our pool that you see can barely see behind the fence

I was reading on NJ.com earlier that this is the snowiest January in 62 years… and no one that has resided in NJ can argue that. It’s been snowing all month long following the blizzard the day after Christmas.

From my phone this morning:

uncleaned side of the walkway

cleaned part of the walkway

neighbor’s tree fell due to the high winds last night

Updated pictures from around 6 PM tonight:


 P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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Snow Storm

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that knows me that I absolutely LOVE snow! So you can probably imagine my excitement when suddenly yesterday we were put in a blizzard warning expecting up to 20 inches of snow from this morning through tomorrow.
Mind you, this is after having nothing other than flurries for a few minutes at most all season long so far. This time, the snow started sticking right away too!
Here are a few pictures from today thus far:
This first picture is from earlier this morning soon after the snow started.

I’m sure I’ll update if when I take more pictures!

Updated 7:14 PM (taken from my phone):

Updated 9:17 PM:

14 inches as of 9:15 PM!

Here’s the morning after update with pictures of the snow storm:

behind that fence is our pool; the little bit of red you see is our red brick bench that runs the length of our backyard.

Around 12:30 PM:

We ended up with 22.5+ inches of snow! I’m not sure exactly how much, but 22.5 inches was the number at 1 A.M. and it still snowed after that.


 P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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A Trip to Mississauga with Faraz

Earlier this month, the Sunday after our Washington D.C. trip, Faraz and I drove up to Mississauga in Canada for about five days (which was originally supposed to be a 2 day trip) because he had a job interview.

On our drive up to Mississauga, we passed through an area (Binghamton) that just had a tornado hit. Passing the storm was insane, with crazy rain and wind – but thankfully we drove right through it in fifteen or twenty minutes.

We have a LOT of family up in Mississauga (some of which were just here for the wedding). I love going to see places and things, so one of the nice things about just us two going was I got to go around downtown Toronto the two days Faraz was there interviewing. I used to live in Toronto, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone before.

Did you know that pretty much the whole downtown Toronto has an underground mall that is connected by pathways. Because its so cold there in the winter, people can just go to the basement level from their office buildings and get to virtually anywhere in downtown they want without ever having to step outside. It was pretty neat, and immaculate!

Faraz got the job, and he’ll be moving to Canada the first of July! Whoa, talk about growing up fast!

I’m going to miss him a lot, and it’ll be weird having him move there… but I wish him nothing but the best… and I guess the past five years of him living at school kind of prepared us… but not really considering we would see him a few weekends a month.

Sigh.

The night he got the job, my brother and I went to Demetre’s with my aunt and her family to celebrate. Demetre’s is an all-dessert restaurant and it was amazing to say the very least. We definitely have to take our parents there next time we’re in the area.  I’ve always heard about it, but never went there before.

This is what I had:

It was absolutely delicious! It’s called “Sweetcar Named Devour” and consisted of chocolate ice cream (under the crepe), fresh strawberries, and fudge sauce! Yum!

 
 P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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Snowy February

We’re in the midst of another snow storm!!!!! Can you sense my excitement? It’s absolutely gorgeous outside and looks so pretty! I’m enjoying every minute of this.

We’ve had more snow in the February than the rest of the winter combined so far. This is the first time in many years we are actually having a snow-y winter, so I’m definitely enjoying it and remembering what our winters were like when we were in Canada… even though where we lived in Canada isn’t getting much snow this year.

I only had one class this morning and the professor let us go as soon as we were done with our quizzes and so I was out in ten minutes. Ten minute classes – now that’s something I could get used to.

I was surprised that Rutgers didn’t end up canceling classes altogether when I woke this morning considering how bad the walkways were on Livingston Campus – they were so slippery. I almost slipped twice leaving my classroom building and so did others walking out. They did cancel classes for the evening since the snow is supposed to get heavier, so I guess that’s something.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

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