Click to view latest update - Tuesday, October 30 at 4:30 PM
This is it, Hurricane Sandy is upon us. They've been calling this a historic and massive storm, and to not be fooled by its category 1 classification. We're starting to see what this is all about as the rain has begun falling at a steady pace as Sandy, still substantially offshore by hundreds of miles, begins to interact with another storm system coming across the country. I just think it's a little bit funny that this hurricane of epic proportions bears the same name as my mother-in-law.
We'll be keeping tabs on Sandy throughout the day and will update you throughout the day with additions to this post.
Real Time Reporting
Here's a live look at Sandy out our front window. I'm most worried about the several very large trees along the sidewalks as the wind begins to pick up. This image will update automatically every few seconds.
Personally, I have to eat my words a bit. Last week, on Tuesday or Wednesday, a coworker said "Looks like we're gong to get hit by a hurricane." I responded incredulously, "It's too cold to hit up north and it will probably go out to sea!" Boy was I wrong.
As we all began to realize that this hurricane is more or less imminent, Frankenstorm preparations started in earnest over the weekend around the area. Most utilized an absolutely picture perfect fall day to do a bit of shopping and stocking up. We headed out on Saturday to pick up some necessary food and supplies from the farmer's market and our local Safeway. We found the grocery store shelves to still be largely stocked, though there were some exceptions. The batteries had already been picked over with all of the D cells wiped clean from the display...
...and the absolute essentials were already quite picked over, as only a few six packs of beer remained.
Yesterday we noticed quite a bit more prep around the area. The Papyrus store on King Street went to extra lengths and actually boarded up all of the windows. This is actually the only store we saw on the main thoroughfare in our town that had gone to these extremes.
Down near the flood-prone areas of Old Town, the city was filling and giving away sand bags to residents looking to shore up their homes from a potentially rising Potomac River.
I snapped a quick before photo of lower King Street, which I fully expect to be flooded with both news crews as well as water.
That's Wendy and Lulu crossing the street on the right.
We also noticed the city wraps the parking payment stations with garbage bags, we assume to protect the devices from water damage. It seems strange these things that are made for the outdoors have to be protected, but I guess they aren't made for torrential and sideways rain.
At our house we moved forward with our own prep. Picking up leaves, clearing drainage holes, taking down our umbrella, etc. We tried to get everything that could easily fly away out of the area of danger.
I also did a little work on our "downspout"...hrm, should we really call this "work"? Okay, I wrapped some duct tape around it to try to secure it a bit. I'm very concerned about our downspout's ability to withstand the wind. Boy did our downspout thief pick the worst time to steal our downspout. I hate that guy even more now.
My final item of pre-storm prep was to clean up the basement a bit. Our basement will probably get some water in it over the next few days, so it was important to get as much off of the floor as possible, including the rather large amounts of saw dust I had created over the past few days. If the saw dust gets wet it turns into a sludge that is nearly impossible to clean up.
As the rain began last night we headed to bed and listened as the rain fell against our windows.
Waking up this morning we turned on the television to see what all of our favorite local stations were reporting. Our station of choice, News Channel 4 of course. Not for their hard hitting journalism practices, no sir! We love them for their zany reporters, Pat Collins and Shomari Stone. Though their A-team of Jim Vance and Doreen Gentzler haven't taken their anchor chairs quite yet, I'm sure they are just off camera eating raw eggs and drinking protein shakes in anticipation of their upcoming 48 hours straight covering this storm. I can only imagine Pat Collins giving himself a pregnant pause laden pep talk while putting on his yellow rain slicker and Gorton's Fisherman style cap. "Let's go...out there...and report...the...hell.......out of this storm."
Though we hope to provide you with examples of their hysterical antics later in the day, the B-team in the morning didn't disappoint. As only local news stations can do, the on-the-scene reporter gave this awesome shirtless man wearing a horse head the camera time he so desperately wanted (and we, as viewers, absolutely needed).
So now we wait for Sandy's arrival. We expect conditions to take a real turn for the worse a little after noon today and continue into the evening. We hope our house fares well, and there are no serious catastrophes that impact us, you, or anyone for that matter. Hopefully you're reading this from an area well west or south of any major storm impact. But if you're in the heart of it, we wish you well and hope you emerge unscathed.
We'll be back in a bit with more updates as long as the power stays on.
Basement Cleaning 2:45 PM Update
Well folks, not all that much to report thus far. Lots of rain, wind is starting to pick up a bit, and we have a dog that will NOT go outside to go potty.
We've been keeping ourselves busy today, that's for sure. We've been working for our real jobs for much of the day, but we were able to get a little bit done during lunch. Most notably, we used the potential for minor basement intrusion (I'm being optimistic here) to straighten the basement up a little bit more.
Now we have a food storage shelf that we can actually access when we need to get to the food as it's no longer blocked by the router table. What a novel idea.
We've had a few heavier bands of rain come through, and the wind is starting to play with our "downspout" a bit, so we're really hoping that will hold.
I'm going to head outside in order to deal with this dog that won't do her business. As much as I probably shouldn't head out, I'd much rather get Lulu situated now rather than needing to deal with a bathroom emergency when the storm gets really bad at about 6:00pm.
So until later, Lulu and I are headed out with our rain coats on and we're going to see what we see around town. Don't worry, we'll be safe, we promise. I'll be back in a little while with an update that will include photos from our excursion.
Out and About 4:45 PM Update
Lulu and I are back safely from our walk and it seems we are back just in time as the wind has REALLY started to pick up. We just had a gust that had to be up around or above 60 mph. If that was any indication of what we will be experiencing from roughy 6:00 pm - 6:00 am, it looks like we're going to be in for a bit of a tense night. It's eerie for sure. I can hear the gusts coming about half a second before it hits, then we just brace for whatever comes.
I made sure to kill two birds with one stone and check out the area while walking the wet-weather-and-potty-challenged canine of mine. Overall, the city is doing well. The wind has started to cause a bit of damage here and there. I noticed a few of the Old Town light pole banners have been blown free on the bottom.
I'd say the majority of the issues that I saw on the walk had more to do with clogged gutters than anything else.
There were a handful of people out and about, but not many. I did see one woman out for a jog. Regardless if she should have been out or not, that's some serious dedication. The shops around Old Town and along King Street are largely closed for the day or were planning on closing by 4:00 pm.
I thought the above photo on the door of the Gap Outlet was hysterical. Why did they put "Sandy" in parentheses? Did we need the additional clarification? Is there another hurricane we could have confused it with? Or perhaps they want to prove they're not just reusing old signs? Who knows, but it made me laugh.
Though the stores are closed, the doors to the old Restoration Hardware that is becoming an H&M were wide open and people were still working inside. They've probably got a schedule they have to stick to.
I did see a USPS carrier out delivering mail from door to door, so I guess their creed is true. Neither rain, nor hurricane, nor Frankenstorm, not pelting rain stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. At least I think that's how it goes.
I walked near the base of King Street but there wasn't much to see. The river hasn't risen above its banks yet, but I could see several news trucks down there, probably with their cameras trained on the banks just waiting for the first stray puddle.
I did notice that the city and residents had pushed leaves out of rain gutters to keep a path open to the storm drains. This is quite an important item that I'm very glad to see people doing.
Other than that, Lulu was wet and miserable, but at least she took care of her business.
We had to be careful where we walked. We had a few instances where a rather large puddle could have ended up with Lulu practically swimming across.
On the way home I saw a firetruck returning from a call and realized that these guys are going to have a seriously busy day and night.
Now that I'm home we're planning on staying in the rest of the day and hoping for an uneventful evening. I think it's going to surely be tense, but at least we can cut the tension with a little bit of broadcast levity. The A-team storm team has started to arrive. Shomari Stone is now reporting from a random downed tree somewhere in the metro DC area, and he's accosting passer bys and asking them why they are outside. All is right with the world.
Any minute now Shomari will begin to run out of things to talk about and start reporting on his kids again. Any minute now.
I'm still just waiting for Pat Collins to show up. Come on Pat! Where are ya buddy?!?
We'll be back with another update a little later.
Pat Collins 5:00 PM Update
THERE HE IS! I thought you'd.....never......show up....... . . . Pat.
We need to start a Pat Collins drinking game. Take a sip each time he takes a dramatic pause. You'd be hammered in under an hour, I assure you. I'll try to get a shaky handheld video of me recording the TV up a little later to give all of you non locals a better idea.
Horse Head Jogger 5:40PM Update
We found some video of the horse head shirtless jogger from this morning. This guy is pretty awesome.
Ok, what's next?
Pat Collins, My Hero 8:30 PM Update
Stranded indoors, power on the fritz. I think that's cause for celebration! Wendy and I decided, in honor of Sandy's visit, we'd crack open a bottle of "special" wine. The bottle of choice tonight was a 2005 Chiarello Vineyards Gianna Zinfandel, autographed by none other than Wendy's Food Network boyfriend Michael Chiarello. (Ladies, can we get a collective sigh over Michael, his delectable food, and his "dreamy forearms"? My wife's words, not mine.) We picked this bottle up during a trip to Napa Valley several years ago.
We enjoyed the wine over a homemade meal of rigatoni, garlic bread, and salad. Apparently our four legged crew members were as interested in the meal as we were. Mel was making his move on Wendy's plate the entire meal. Here's his best Puss in Boots "my parents don't feed me" face. How adorable is he? (He was rewarded with a bit of cheese.)
Lulu was also making a move onto Wendy's lap during dinner. She's been on edge all day, shaking, quivering, and not letting us out of her sight. We think she absolutely senses there's a major weather event in progress, so we put her in her Thunder Shirt and have made sure to give her a lot of extra TLC today.
What effects are we seeing from the storm so far?
- We have water coming in our bedroom windows, thanks to our old windows that are in desperate need of a makeover (and storm windows, ahem).
- We're starting to see a bit of water in the basement. Luckily our earlier organizational efforts have prevented any damage so far.
- Water has also been making its way into the vestibule via the mail slot and blowing beneath the doors. We're keeping an eye on it and have been periodically mopping it up.
- We witnessed the chimney cap come off a neighbor's house. It's precariously dangling off the side of their roof. You can just barely see it in this somewhat blurry photo.
- We're the proud owners of a new garbage can that showed up in our parking spot. Sweet.
- Our makeshift downspout came loose, dangling from the upper gutter like a slinky making its getaway. I braved the storm and was able to secure the downspout without too much issue. This photo is looking through the window, and since the air is so cold outside, and we were cooking pasta inside, we got some really foggy windows.
- And finally, Hurricane Lulu showed her dissatisfaction with Hurricane Sandy by tearing up her dog bed. "Take that, Sandy, I put stuffing all over the place."
Last, but probably the most exciting, was watching this gem of a Pat Collins news report on News Channel 4. For those of you who didn't understand our previous reference or ensuing drinking game, here he is in all his glory. Sorry the volume is so low, I need to get better at my lame bootleg recording.
How's everyone else faring so far?
Transformer Explosion 8:40 PM Update
Just a really quick one. Our power flickered just a little bit a few minutes ago and I saw a flash in the sky north, north west of Old Town. Most likely this was a tree or something falling on the power lines and causing a transformer explosion in North Old Town or Del Ray. Anyone see this?
Hopefully we'll be back later tonight.
Power Flickers and Webcam Failures 10:30 PM Update
We're starting to experience a fair number of power flickers here in our house. This tells me that we'll be pretty lucky to make it through the night without losing power, which might also mean that OldTownHome.com could go offline at some point. :-( Boooo Hurricane Sandy. Don't you know we're having fun blogging about this stuff?
We've had a few other complications with our downspout, but, luckily, not much else beyond that. I've had to go outside twice to fix the downspout and seat it back in it's proper place and BOY, IS IT COLD OUTSIDE!
This hurricane is one weird storm, that's for sure. What happened to tropical weather accompanying this wind and rain? Oh no, we get cold and nasty, thank you very much.
We're at the point now were we are thinking about sleeping downstairs tonight. The wind and rain are so hard on the front of our house that it might be pretty hard to sleep in our bedroom. Man, I really wish I had built those storm windows. Have I mentioned that yet? I'm such a jerk.
I guess it's good news that the local news is beginning to focus on New York instead of DC, but I'll be one happy camper once the wind dies down a little bit. I think we're looking at another six hours or so.
Unfortunately, our webcam suddenly had its internet connection fail at the front window. Not sure what's up, but I had to move it to our back window, which has far less light. It'll look much better in the morning. Technology sure can be annoying during hurricanes...I guess.
Through The Worst? 12:25 AM Update
Well, it looks like we may have made it through the worst of the weather, at least that's what we're hoping. The wind and rain should die down throughout the night and hopefully we'll wake up to no debris or mess to deal with in the morning. Yeah, wishful thinking. It will be a little weird to wake up to wind chills in the 30 degree range after a Hurricane.
We've decided to go ahead and have a slumber party in our family room tonight. Rather than deal with the wind and rain noise against the front windows, we'll ride out the remainder of the storm in the quiet and warm middle room of our house. Besides, being on the 1st floor and in the middle of the house will let us stay near both Mel and Lulu, just in case we have an emergency of some sort.
This photo will also serve as a future reminder of the time we got hit with a massive hurricane and had to sleep on the first floor because I hadn't completed the storm window project. Did I mention I didn't get the storm windows done when I was supposed to? I'm not sure I did.
Looking back on our day, I consider our live blogging adventure a complete success given that we were able to turn just a few people onto the magic that is Pat Collins and the NBC4 news team. I think I need to go trick-or-treating as Pat Collins as the Gorton's Fisherman. Would make for an awesome costume. I just need to work on my impersonation.
Now this isn't storm related, but if anyone wants to see my all time favorite Pat Collins news clip, check out his reporting on first amendment rights...IN A FRUIT OF THE LOOM GRAPE COSTUME. No, I'm not joking.
As we hit the hay we will thank our lucky stars that we are not one of the millions of people without power, that our family is safe, and as far as we know, all of our friends are thus far unscathed (baring some minor water seepage and a power outage or two). We hope you've all enjoyed our coverage of Hurricane Sandy, and hope you'll join us again tomorrow as we update you with some photos from tomorrow's aftermath. If we lose power tonight, we'll see you all on the flip side when our power is restored. Take care and have a good night!
Good Morning Internets - Sandy Winding Down - 11:15 AM Update
We made it through the night, both without major damage and without loss of power. Yay, Old Town and Dominion Virginia Power, for your still intact record for excellent electrical reliability in our block. Knock on wood, but we've kept power through the majority of the weather disasters we've had over the years. I think we've probably lost power for about three to four hours total in the nearly 10 years we've lived in our house. I guess this is why Wendy tells me we're not allowed to get a backup natural gas generator...BUT I STILL WANT ONE. It's a guy/toy thing I guess.
The water never got very bad in the basement (which is encouraging from a finished basement standpoint). The windows upstairs need storm windows, but we've covered this topic already, now I need to get moving on it. The downspout is, well, not a real downspout. I need to get to replacing the makeshift with a copper one. But all in all, we're doing well.
We're going to head out to take Lulu for a walk and will see what sort of impact the city had. We've already seen a few photos from friends, and it looks like we got pretty lucky. We'll post back in a little while with a final wrap-up post that will include photos from our walk.
How did everyone else do? I hope our friends in Philly, NYC, and north are doing okay. We know you all got the worst of this storm.
Don't Let the Door Hit You On The Way Out, Sandy - 4:30 PM Update
We're back from our walk around Old Town where we surveyed the damage in the most heavily travelled portions of the city. Our opinion? Old Town escaped pretty well unscathed, especially given the disasters that occurred in New York and New Jersey.
Sure there were a handful of downed braches...
...and a random road sign that was laying on the ground (though I think it may have been there before the storm).
Our somewhat wildly growing grasses were obviously wind blown, but I think it may be time to trim those guys anyway.
Closer to the water I saw the house of one of our readers that looked to be in pretty good shape. I hope her basement didn't get much water, but one thing for sure, she has storm windows. Just sayin', storm windows, that probably made the storm NOT come into the house.
A house a little bit further down the block had really prepared. This is the area known for flooding, so it's no surprise to really see the doors and windows in this area really well fortified.
If you've been watching any coverage of Old Town on the news, the area at the very base of King Street is likely what you've seen. This area floods at the drop of a hat and people love to walk around in the ankle deep water. We witnessed this as soon as we got down in that area.
Though the flooding wasn't nearly as severe as it was during Isabel in 2003, the Potomac was still really rough. We saw this boat docked and it was really getting thrown around quite a bit.
The waters had already receded substantially since they reached their peak in the morning, and Mai-Thai, the restaurant on the corner, was beginning their clean up efforts. Looks like they had quite a bit of water get into the kitchen area.
Around the corner from the "flooded" street the restaurant, Virtue Feed and Grain, reminded me that Halloween is what's really right around the corner. Either that, or they strung up a few people a while back and we just didn't notice until they turned to skeletons, one of which has been wrapped up in a web by a giant spider. Either way, I love the effect.
I guess the fact the workers were removing Papyrus's fortification was the true indication that the storm was officially over. And in case you're wondering, no, the buildings on either side of Papyrus did not have their windows smashed out, nor were they the victims of wild post hurricane looters.
For some reason, I always use post storm analysis as an excuse to take photos of area houses that I love. Like this one (that's currently for sale) on Prince Street.
I also love these houses along North Pitt Street. Every time I walk through that block I always sort of wish we lived in one of them.
Or these places just across the street.
We did see that the USPS was back out and delivering mail, once again living up to their creed.
We also ran across this building on Queen Street that apparently had its copper downspout stolen. Oh sad building, we feel your pain.
I know there were several other trees down and other minor damage around the area, but it looks like the people with damage were more than likely the unlucky ones, rather than widespread damage with a few lucky people.
When we got home we realized everything was getting back to normal. Well, almost normal, except the kids were sitting awfully close together without any fighting for it to really be "normal."
A little warm butternut squash soup for lunch...
...and a little bit of trashy day time TV...
...and we're doing just fine. Yes, in case you're wondering, that image is correct, it's Days of Our Lives. I'll save you the effort to scroll up to the top of this post and check, this is Alex writing this. Wendy got me watching Days in college and we spent many an afternoon in our dorms watching the adventures of Victor, Stefano, John Black, Marlena, Sammy, and Bo. I have to say one thing, after not watching the show for 15 years, the fact the same actors, sets, and story lines are in use is borderline shocking. I can say one thing, most of the actors that have had a whole lot of plastic surgery look almost the same, their eyes are all just a bit smaller looking. You know, in a creepy way.
And with that, this update will conclude what I believe is our lengthiest blog post, both in actual length, and the amount of time we actually worked on it. We hope you had fun following along and that you were also largely unaffected by the storm. Given that the end results were not disastrous I'd say we had a fair amount of fun too.