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Thursday, October 26, 2017

5

It's coming up on the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy slamming into the northeastern United States.  The effect was felt here in our area, and here is some of what I remember about that day.

The wind was howling and the lights flickered as I was getting dressed to come to work.  I expected the lights to go out and stay out for a long time.  Luckily, that never happened in my area.

When I arrived at the office, the choice was clear.  I'd be heading to our Pocono Newsroom.  The Poconos were already getting slammed, and electricity was out to thousands.

I worked with the great Mark Monahan that day.  Our news van caught a gust of wind on Interstate 380 near Tobyhanna, and I don't know how Mark kept control of the van.  Tractor trailers were parked all along the interstates, and as I always say, you know it's bad when the truckers surrender the road.

We got off Interstate 80 in Stroudsburg, and there was darkness as far as the eye could see.  No street lights.  No house lights.  Nothing.

We arrived at the powerless Pocono Newsroom.  No worries.  The news van has a generator.  The plumbing in the office still worked.  We were live on Newswatch 16 This Morning for hours.  The only lights on the street came from our truck.

After the news was over, Mark and I walked throughout the downtown, gathering video and interviews for our noon broadcast.  Good stuff.  A deli with a generator was storing perishables for his neighbors.  A hotel was doing its best to keep people happy, in spite of the lack of electricity.  A cab driver told us about dodging downed trees on his travels.

We were live at noon, and then headed home.

On my way home, I noticed traffic lights out about a mile away from the house.  I feared the worst.  An afternoon in the dark, melting frozen food, no internet.  I was thrilled to learn that the power never went out.

It was back to the Poconos the next day, except this time, we were at an emergency shelter at East Stroudsburg University.  I vividly remember a woman, crying, walked out of the gymnasium.  I asked what was wrong.  She said she learned her power could be out for weeks.

After morning and noon live reports, I handed off to the day crews.  State officials were scheduled to visit the shelter later on in the day.

I've been in hurricane and tropical storm remnants, but Sandy was a different animal.  The Poconos were close enough to feel the wind bands.  It would be gusty, then quiet, then gusty again.  Strange experience.

What have we learned?  I'm not sure.  It seemed the biggest problem, at least here in our area,  was electricity.  We keep our trees trimmed.  Systems are smarter.  They can route around damaged lines.  But, all it takes is one downed tree, and thousands are in the dark.