Before this week, I would have said that natural disasters in New Jersey were an oxymoron. After this week, I don’t know what to expect next. On Tuesday, August 23rd, we experienced an earthquake! I did not believe that it was an earthquake until it was published on CNN.com. I was sitting at my desk working on a project and all of a sudden, things started to shake; I thought that there was a big truck driving by or someone was moving things on the floor below us. I also thought that I might have been going ‘crazy’ or getting dizzy. I asked my co-worker who was standing about 20 feet away from me if she felt something; she thought I might have been crazy, because she heard things shaking, but did not feel it. She said that it was probably an earthquake, and I said, “No way! There are no earthquakes on the East Coast.” Clearly, I was wrong!
It was the topic of conversation for the rest of the day. It was a cool feeling, but nothing that I am looking forward to feeling again. I am happy that I was not in a city that had to worry about terrorists and not being able to use an elevator to evacuate a high-rise.
And if an earthquake wasn’t enough of a natural disaster, along comes Hurricane Irene! I went to college at the University of Miami and have been through a couple of hurricanes, but moving back to New Jersey, I did not expect to have to worry about hurricanes any more. Again, I was wrong. People started preparing all week, and the supermarkets were empty of all water, bread and milk. The gas stations had lines around the block; it was something that I had never seen before in New Jersey. At least in the summer, there are sometimes reactions like this to expected blizzards in the winter.
Once the hurricane came on Saturday, August 27th, my family and I went to my parents’ house (except for one of my brothers who lives in Syracuse, NY). It was raining really hard and the wind reached over 50 miles per hour. At 11:30pm, they called a tornado warning (yes, a tornado!), in our county. We all went to the basement, and slept down there. The power went out at 3:30am and it was out for almost 20 hours!
We were lucky that my grandparents, who live ten minutes away, had power; I went there with my brother (who was at home) and hung out and watched the news. The flooding was incredible! I have never seen anything like it. There was a river of water on the main highway!
When it was time to go into the basement because of the tornado, I was thinking, what about the people who use wheelchairs, where would they go in case of a tornado? Also, with the earthquake, what would someone in a wheelchair do if they had to make it down the stairs?
I would be very interested in hearing from people who have had to deal with something like this.