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Post Hurricane Sandy Video

I quickly put this video together by splicing a bunch of videos I had taken on the same day, Nov. 1, 2012.  The last segment is blurry for some unknown reason.  Steven Spielberg I am not.

I was in the Princeton area today.  Damage there is pretty bad and power outage is widespread.  There are many downed trees in the area of the cemetery that faces Witherspoon Street so the whole street is blocked off beginning near the library as the tree removal service clears the street.  If I recall correctly, the Princeton Elm “mother elm” tree was located in the cemetery.  It was a very old tree that predated Dutch Elm disease.  In fact, part of the tree was infected but the rest of the tree had developed some immunity to the disease.  Most of the American Elms you see today are descendents of this tree.  I don’t even want to think about what Washington Road might look like.  That’s the road that leads out of Princeton that is lined on both sides by rows of mature elm trees that spread their canopies over the roadbed. They are beautiful trees, tall straight columns that fan out gracefully into a vase shape.  The possibility of losing them makes me a little sick.

On the way down towards Lawrenceville, we saw a convoy of cherry pickers and power utility vehicles heading north on route 206 towards Princeton.  The state on the license plates for all forty or so vehicles- Missouri.


36 Responses

  1. Thanks for the video, helps to see how strong the storm was and how people are still trying to get back to normal. Stay warm and hope the power grid comes back soon. Keep us updated.

    • Power is on here in my development. House is warm. Gas lines still long but rationing is in effect so that should cut down on the fights at gas stations.
      BTW, the video I took was in a very small area of Hillsborough, just a few streets, actually. It’s like this all over. The baptist church has a hole in its roof and the Clairvoyant on Route 206 lost her roof to a fallen tree. “I’ll bet she saw that coming”, Brooke said dryly.

  2. I am so glad you are warm again – and the lights. That’s almost the definition of normal on some level.

    Your tour was interesting — If even one of those trees went down around here, it would cross 2,3 or even 4 lots. Our trees just don’t get that big. Also, it was interesting how few of the trees crashed into houses. There wasn’t as much damage to buildings as I expected.

    I’m not saying it’s not bad — it’s horrible.

    • That’s just a few streets here. Imagine that repeated all over NJ. Plus, there were some local deaths from fallen trees. One guy in Princeton died when a tree fell on his house. I too am surprised that we didn’t lose more roofs. But in my section of the development, we all had our roofs replaced a couple of years ago. I think that helped. There is a lot of missing soffit though. The guy at the other end of my units lost some soffit and siding and his screen door was seriously messed up. The guy next to me lost two trees. They were leaning in the direction of my house. The guy down the street lost part of his back deck. There is a lot of structural damage and messed up roofs. I just can’t get all of it on an iphone when I’m driving.
      The most dangerous part is the downed power lines. There are still a lot of them. On 206 this afternoon, I saw a broken power line post cracked in half and leaning over the busiest roadway through central NJ. If it falls, you’re dead, nooooo doubt about it. But it’s the main thoroughfare in and out of this section of New Jersey so it’s marked with an orange traffic cone and you just have to hold your breath when you drive under it. Whaddayagunnado? They can’t close the road without creating a major carmageddon. But that’s just one of many dangers around here. The live wires are all over the place. That’s why they cancelled Halloween and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was canceled on Monday as well. It’s just too dangerous for little kids to be walking around under these things at night.

      • It’s overwhelming. I’m starting to wonder if some kids will be out of school until after Winter Break.

        • They’re making considerable progress. The landscapers chainsawed the neighbor’s trees this afternoon and left the whole mess on my lawn. No idea when they’re going to get it. I should take a picture. The tree that was leaning on the power line in the video was gone this morning. I think that was the thing that was preventing the lights from coming on. Plus, that neighborhood I drove around and had to stop at the downed power lines had another blocked off street with downed power lines on the next street over. It was taped off too. Imagine coming out of your house on Tuesday morning to see live power lines surrounding your house. That must have been stimulating. There are still streets blocked off. I had to go to Philly today and was detoured all over Princeton. I can’t take the backroads through the Duke Estate. Brooke said there were too many downed trees. She and her dad took pictures that she says are amazing but they’re on his camera and we have to wait for him to get around to sharing.

        • As for the schools around here, our school district has a policy that no schools will open if they all can’t open. There is one school that’s kind of in the boonies of our township down a rural road. There are a lot of trees and one of the major roads leading to it runs next to a branch of the Raritan River that floods regularly. That might be the school that is causing the problem. I guess they could transfer the kids to other schools for a couple of days. The problem is the school buses. They have to go back through those rural roads with all the downed trees and get the kids. So, it’s not the school that’s the problem. It’s the transportation system. The district probably doesn’t want to take any risks.

          • It’s often the buses that determine snow days around here so that sounds very possible to me. When the bus drivers can’t make into certain neighborhoods, they close the schools.

          • Oh sure, it’s all about liability these days.

  3. A normal-by-comparison typical nor’easter is possibly expected by coastal New Jersey on Wednesday or so. While it is no fun to hear of such things, perhaps knowing in advance might allow precautions to be taken?


    • Lets pray it won’t be too bad.Stock up tho just in case 🙂

    • well we can hope that everything that was going to be blown down was blown down already. So, I hope everyone has a warm place to be now that it is getting cold.
      We are expecting snow with this next one, here in Pa. But it is November so that’s to be expected.
      I am afraid there are many many old people stuck in high rises in NYC who can not get up and down the stairs and don’t have good neighbors to care for them. That is what I worry about currently.

  4. From the video it looks like every downed tree was levered out by the roots. Did you see any trees which broke off above ground level or any big or huge branches which were broken/snapped/torn off of trees which themselves stayed anchored in the ground?

    • Yes, there are large broken branches as well, trees split in half, trees partially broken over power lines. There are a lot of those kinds of broken trees in Princeton. I’m wondering if the uprooted trees have more to do with the amount of foliage/needles left on the trees.

      • Certainly “more foliage” would catch “more wind more effectively”. The fact that there are split trees and broken trees weakens a provisional theory I was considering . . . that something is wrong with the root systems of today’s trees . . . that they should be deeper and wider than they apparently are.
        Or at least with the trees that got levered up out of the soil by the roots. One wonders if the trees which split or broke or lost huge branches have better root systems which anchored them into the soil better, so the stress found another breakpoint. No one is going to dig up broken trees to study the root system, though. I wouldn’t let anyone dig up my broken trees (if I had any) to study their root systems.

        • It has more to do with saturated ground. When there has been a lot of rain over a week or so it is easier for the roots to come up that it is for the truck to snap….. much easier.

          • it is easier for the roots to come up THAN it is for the TRUNK to snap….(sigh)

          • Then that raises the possibility of more such tree blowdown events in the decades to come. As global warming drives more super-heavy rain-dump events in random places at random times, more trees will be subject to getting levered up out of saturated or super-saturated soil.

            One wonders if tree-experts are studying (or already know) which kinds of trees have wider/deeper/bigger root spreads relative to wind-catching leaf spreads. One wonders if biggest-root-system trees should be the ones planted around human habitations going forward. Or also, perhaps trees should be majorly surgerised so as to only cast shade where most economically useful and present less sail-area to the wind.

  5. As a daily reader of your blog, I just wished to let you know that (besides my cousins living in the NY and Mass area) my thoughts are with you.
    By chance, another storm hit my city (Buenos Aires, Argentina) at the same time. While not as powerful as Sandy, the city got flooded thanks to a conservative mayor (fan of Ayn Rand) who didn’t the works budgeted after six years in charge. Delights of market-friendly policies!

  6. It IS great that so many states are willing to help after an emergency. Our state got hit by Derecho during the summer and power in the area was out for about a week. We saw power company workers from a variety of states too. It was problematic that there were so many problems though because the power companies didn’t exercise due diligence and ensure tree limbs weren’t near power lines. It meant they had to replace quite a few lines which meant longer waits for power to resume.

    I’m glad you have power. It was bad to be without power during the summer but I think it would be worse with weather getting so cold.

    • ” Derecho derecho” . . .

      I didn’t like that word when they first came up with it. I don’t automatically know what it means and I have to think about it. I wish they would call such storm systems ” long fetch” or “thunderball express”.

  7. Not Sandy related, but I wanted to ask if anyone had read the rather astounding article by Thomas Franks at Salon in which he says we must vote for Obama and then complains that Obama has made the left (broadly defined) futile and irrelevant. That there might be a connection between a vote for Obama being the “clear choice” and being made “irrelevant” is apparently something that has never crossed his mind.

  8. So glad that you and your daughter are safe and that you have power!!

    The video was amazing — thank you!


  9. RD:
    It’s nice to hear your voice…
    Just like Bob Row, I’m a daily reader of your blog.
    Good to know that things are getting back to normal.

  10. RD, all I can say is — keep warm. I am so sorry that you and your daughter were hit hard by the storm.

    I almost feel guilty for living in an area that got off lightly, even though Baltimore was projected to be a direct target. We live in an old, old neighborhood with a very iffy electrical grid. I watched the power lines swaying in the wind all through that day and night. The tableau seemed very dangerous — and yet, quasi-miraculously, everything all held together.

    Now our only problem is dealing with all the “hurricane food” stocked in the pantry. Even we Eye-talians tire of pasta after a while. Especially the canned variety.

    Wishing you the best. Consider a move to California. Earthquakes are MUCH more entertaining than hurricanes.

    • Unless you are in a car that a falling elevated highway falls on and crushes.

      • I thought CA had caught up with Gov Reagan’s deferred maintenance.

        • They may have. I certainly don’t know enough to know differently.

          I read there are still some unaddressed infrastructure problems there, though. Going purely from memory . . . Sacramento (?) is protected from catastrophic river-rise flooding by a system of aging ill-maintained levees. If the whole Sierra watershed were to have a whole winter of Donner Party snowdumps followed by 4-5 days of super-monsoon rains in early spring, the rivers might rise beyond the ability of the Sacramento levees to hold back the water. Sacramento could get NOLAfied.

          And there are super-hot brushfires and chapparal fires, and the post-fire downpour muddy rockslides, and so forth. California offers more than just earthquakes for the discriminating adventure-lifestyle seeker.

  11. A week later my sister in NJ still has no power, but 3 blocks away they do. So perhaps she will soon. I told her she was a trooper. She says she’s been doing it by just thinking about each day as it comes. Good advice. A friend let her do laundry at thier house today …oh joy, oh rapture

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