TL;DR: Lots and lots and lots of illustrated exposition about surviving the hurricane, followed at long last by two announcements (you wanted me to shut up and take your money? sorry, I can’t do that first part…) - (1) a special Shark Week fund-raiser for hurricane relief, and (2) sign-ups for the 2013 Tsock Club.
And we’re all still here.
The world didn’t end on December 21.
(o hai. mai repreevd to-do list, let me sho u it.)
Since 2013 has not been called off… that means we can go ahead and open sign-ups for the 2013 Tsock Club. And at the end of this post, I’m going to do exactly that.
But first - as 2012 draws to a close - there’s something else I want to talk to you about.
The world didn’t end on October 29th, either, but for a lot of people in this part of the world it got pretty hairy.
These pictures aren’t as dramatic as the Daily Mail ones, except that I took them myself, right outside my house. NOT during the worst of the storm, because that happened at night. Still, you can see where things are going. A car shouldn’t throw this kind of wake.
And it has stayed that way. Hurricane Sandy isn’t monopolizing the headlines any more, but two months later we’re still hurting here. And by “we” I mostly don’t mean me - though I can’t exactly claim to be the exception, come to that.
Storm isn’t here yet, but waters are rising. It’s about ankle deep in the street.
Still… I’m one of the lucky ones. My house is old and it’s solid. It’s on relatively high ground, with a deep cellar and a first floor about four feet above ground level.
My front stoop; storm is almost here.
I knew it was safe. I also knew that for at least 36 hours it would be completely surrounded by water.
All these things that look like canals? They’re streets.
Alongside my house.
That’s not a body of water - usually. It’s my across-the-street neighbor’s yard.
Two blocks inland. Do we detect a theme here?
Dinghy in the street - about three feet above it, actually.
Nor any drop to drink.
Astonishingly, my neighborhood didn’t lose power until quite late in the evening, when the storm was at its peak. There were some fluctuations, but it hung in there until about 11 PM, when I’m fairly sure they shut it off intentionally to prevent fires from downed power lines. After that… it was a long night. Long, dark, and noisy.
Overall - I have to say I got off pretty easy. The high-water mark in my cellar, we were to discover, was at five feet; miraculously, just 1/8″ below the circuit breaker panel.
By the time I got down there the next morning the water level was down to about four feet. I know this because I waded through it to kill the main breaker, and it was up to here on me.
It was cold and it was nasty and it was not what you’d call clean. Still, it didn’t include any fuel oil or any raw sewage; lucky me, as I later learned.
With that much water down there it wasn’t really possible to assess the damage or chaos yet. It was a pretty safe assumption, though, that everything was a total loss.
Next day - the flood waters begin to recede.
Most of the streets aren’t usable yet, though.
When it finally became possible to walk around the block, this was my first look at the street behind mine.
Noon on the day after the storm. It begins.
It was to become a common sight over the next few weeks. That block - like most of the other blocks on this peninsula - is mostly slab houses. Unlike me and my immediate neighbors, these people don’t have cellars. There is no place for five feet of flood water to go except straight through their main living spaces.
You can’t exactly say they lost everything - I mean, their houses are still standing. So that’s something.
But all their stuff is ruined. Furniture, appliances, clothing, toys…
… wallboard, floorboards, carpet, wiring, plumbing…
This picture was taken just a week ago.
… all wrecked. Day after day after day, then and now, a constant parade of trashed belongings.
My area was without power for about a week, give or take. Some people were luckier than that; for others it was a lot longer. A lot longer.
You can see why.
For several weeks we had curfews and checkpoints and police escorts. Most of us were deeply thankful for this; anyone who wasn’t is about due for a serious reality check.
(The police were wonderful, I have to say. Well-organized, sensible, uniformly patient and kind.)
Three days after the storm, I got my first look at the lowest point of the street.
This isn’t the boatyard. This is ACROSS THE STREET from the boatyard. These boats do not belong in this guy’s driveway.
I was down this way because I was on the trail of the elusive Pump-Out Guy - someone knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who had a truck and a pump and a generator, and after much phone tag and pavement-pounding I was hoping to snag this guy’s services to get those four feet of water out of my cellar.
I found him at last, a couple of houses up from the boatyard, and was thrilled to learn that I was his next stop. This is one of the most beautiful sights I saw that week:
Yeah. That hose is coming from inside MY cellar. They had to climb in a window, because the outer door was completely blocked from the inside, by debris. But they managed it, and four hours later my cellar was reasonably close to dry.
We were leaving for the Fiber Festival of New England early the next morning, so I didn’t even try to deal with the cellar beyond that; was just glad to know I wasn’t leaving it full of water for the weekend.
That afternoon I managed to score a full tank of gas with only an hour’s wait; that was almost as exciting as watching the water gush out of the cellar.
It was weird, leaving the island. We passed gas lines that stretched for miles - people waiting hours for gas that wasn’t even there yet but that was rumored to be arriving later in the day. I felt a little guilty, looking at my gauge reading full. Felt a little more guilty crossing the bridge - like a rat leaving a sinking ship.
This was the loveliest and most exotic thing we saw on the way North - at a Home Depot in Connecticut:
Until it was surpassed by the beauty of the hotel room, with its working lights and working heat and apparently inexhaustible hot running water.
Got back from that weekend to find that my neighbors across the street had working lights. Next morning I went down cellar and switched on everything but the furnace and dryer circuits. Let there be light! I also got my first good look at the cellar itself. It wasn’t a happy sight.
Yes, that’s a freezer; a formerly white freezer. Yes, it’s lying on its back, open, no longer submerged. Yes, that’s rotting meat you smell.
We didn’t actually reach the freezer for almost two weeks.
Post-modern sculpture? Why, no, that’s the laundry room.
We still haven’t made our way to the washing machine and dryer, but a couple of weeks ago we finally managed to excavate as far as the furnace and water heater. This is important. It means they can now be ripped out, carted away, and replaced. It gives us reason to hope that we will be able to have heat and hot water again some time in January.
It will be good to have heat and hot water again. Really good. At this writing, the weather isn’t getting any warmer, and I have to admit that living without a furnace is becoming increasingly onerous. Sure, I do normally expect to be able to see my breath at this time of year… but not in my living room, plz kthx.
And we are the lucky ones.
This book, of all books, washed up on a high shelf just at the water line. Before the storm it was in a box on the cellar floor - at the other end of the house.
In Gilgo we were even luckier, though it was a couple more weeks before we had power again there.
Starting with this BIIIIG BEYOOTIFUL generator, under 24-hour guard, which kept the whole community going until a few days after Thanksgiving, when they finally got us reconnected to the grid. That’s also when they eliminated the last of the police checkpoints on Ocean Parkway. They’ll be rebuilding the road for the next six months, though.
But our houses - unlike those in Breezy Point and Rockaway - are still there. Unlike many of those in the towns on the mainland, they are mostly intact. We are counting our blessings.
OK, so why am I telling you about all this now?
Because of all those people who are way way worse off and still in need of help; because I want to do something about that.
I may not have heat or hot water, but at least I didn’t lose anything irreplaceable; I’m OK, and so are my animals, and so is all the property that really matters to me. Meanwhile, a lot of people I know (and far more that I don’t know!) still aren’t able to use their houses at all. They’re camping out with friends and relatives while they try to repair or rebuild or relocate. They’re lucky if they managed to salvage more than the clothes they stood up in.
Every single house in my neighborhood, and in scores of neighborhoods just like mine, is infested with contractors of various kinds. Every day there is something being torn out or put in, replaced or repaired. Every day, even now, there are fresh piles of detritus lining the streets. More furniture, more appliances, more mold-ridden wallboard. Rusted pipes and oil tanks.
It is now way too late to make a long story short, but sooner or later we had to get to the chase, right? So here it is: I’m taking advantage of the freak popularity of Shark Week to raise some funds for hurricane relief.
You know how I said I don’t release club designs before their anniversaries? You know how I said I don’t release them as standalone patterns?
I’m making an exception. A temporary, unprecedented, special-purpose exception. By kind permission of the members of the current Tsock Club, I am making the Shark Week pattern available as a downloadable PDF, for a limited time only, at a premium price - most of which will go directly to hurricane relief.
Limited time: Through the first week of the new year. Maybe the second. (I’ve never done this before, and I’m not sure what to expect. So there’s going to be a little rolling with the punches here.)
Premium price: $40.
Yes, that’s outrageous. Or rather, it’d be outrageous for just a pattern. But most of it - 75% - will go directly to the local rebuilding effort.
The Babylon Fire Chiefs Association is giving out gift certificates to places that sell building and plumbing supplies and appliances; I love this, partly because it’s practical and immediate, answering a specific need; partly because I know that many of my hardest-hit neighbors are firemen themselves.
Save the Beaches is a non-profit dedicated to preserving and stabilizing the coastal environment - the barrier islands that protect the mainland, the reason that most of Long Island and Connecticut are not still underwater - and they’re going to need funds for dune planting. By way of full disclosure… here again I have something of a personal stake - the more so because my mother was a co-founder of the organization - but there’s a much bigger picture to be considered, and this may call for some explanation. It’s sort of the opposite of a domino effect. When a big storm comes in off the ocean, the dunes are the first line of defense for the barrier beaches; the barrier beaches in turn are the first line of defense for the mainland of Long Island; Long Island itself, on a larger scale, is the first line of defense for the southern coast of New England. The dunes along the South Shore of Long Island were pretty much destroyed by Sandy, but they served their purpose. The airbag inflates and it cushions the impact - this destroys the airbag, but it saves the driver and passenger.
The dunes have already been partially rebuilt…
… but they’re naked. Naked dunes are unstable; naked dunes are just… sand; sand alone is not enough to protect anything.
This is what healthy dunes should look like:
… and that is what Save the Beaches will be doing, come spring - putting in the grasses and scrub plants that anchor and stabilize this crucial coastal airbag.
Those are the efforts I’m looking to benefit, and depending on what sort of response I get I am hoping I can also set aside a little to help a few individuals directly; knitters who have lost their stashes as well as everything else they owned; members of the community who one way and another just can’t seem to catch a break.
Because, you know, there but for the grace….
And the good thing is - it IS possible to help. I think of Sandy Hook, and how desperately everyone wants to help the victims and survivors there, and the awful thing is that there is really nothing anyone can do to mitigate that loss. People are banding together to offer love and support and money and knitting, and doing that is important for both giver and recipient; it’s part of grieving; it’s a need. And yet there’s also an element of aching futility about it, because you know that nothing you do can ever actually make things normal and OK again.
I don’t know about you, but in the wake of that it is a relief to me to remember that there are still some situations where giving actually DOES help in a simple practical way. Where people who have been hurt CAN have some normal again, and all it takes is money. In the final analysis, that is the kind of problem to have; it may be broken, but at least it’s a broken that can mostly be fixed.
So this is your chance: You can have your feets nommed by tsharks AND help hurricane survivors, all in one swell foop. The community will thank you; the region will thank you; I will thank you.
The special hurricane-relief edition of Shark Week (all 50 pages of it, stuffed with profusely-illustrated technique tutorials)
is was available for purchase and download on Ravelry.
As a little extra sweetener, after we close the fundraiser I’ll do a random drawing, choose three names from among the participants - and those three will receive full tshark kits, velcro and all.
Update: Fund-raiser is now closed. Many, many thanks to all who participated, raising over $23,000 for the two charities! Watch this space - and/or my blog and/or my Twitter feed and/or Ravelry - for final report and for results of the prize drawings; I’ll be posting these as soon as I’m out of the latest Pattern Purdah.
Sign in front of a local business, two days after Sandy.
And now, if you’re still with me and still awake… another moment that at least some of you have been waiting for. The Art for your Feet Tsock Club. For 2013. Sign-ups. Open. Now. Go there. Do it. You know you want to.
Happy New Year to all, from everyone on the Tsock Team… including your friend Bruce!
(Reminder to current club members: That purchase page is NOT for you! You guys have your own Speshul Renewal Page; if you didn’t get the letter about this, e-mail me, yes?)