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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

After Irene

It rained and raged and stormed and blew. By the next morning, though, the rain had let up a bit. And by early afternoon, all that was left of Hurricane Irene was the wind. We were unscathed for the most part: a few downed branches, puddles that were more like ponds throughout the yard, and green leaves everywhere that had been stripped from the trees. We even had electricity until about 2 pm, but then our generator kicked in and our pumps continued to pump. We had no internet or phone service for two days, until the "real" power came back on.

We were spared. Living on the first ridge of the Watchung Mountains certainly has its benefits.While our house doesn't have a million-dollar view (we live on what I like to call the backside of the mountain), all the water does flow downhill. So, while our basement floods if we aren't pumping, we do not have to worry about rivers overflowing. 

Unfortunately, so many of the towns nearby--a mere 5 minute drive from our home--were inundated. Homes were destroyed. Lives uprooted. Basements flooded to ceilings. I can just barely comprehend what those folks are going through, since we dealt with our flood a year and a half ago. My little picture story of our experiences doesn't begin to compare, so I'll share it simply. My heart goes out to the people who still have lots of recover ahead of them.

As for us, on Sunday morning, Irene was dragging her rear end through New Jersey. It was still raining, and the cats continued to enjoy the Blowing Leaves Channel on the Window TV.
Athena watching Cat TV.
The dogs needed to go out, so we braved the weather, but by that time, the rain had slowed quite a bit.

Many branches littered the yard. A dog's paradise: more sticks than even Jasper and Tucker could chew in a day...maybe even a week.

Lilah surveys the damage to my butterfly bushes. Every one was blown over.

Our driveway had become a stream.

Speaking of streams, here's a "before" picture of one of the streams in our woods.

And here's the "after." In the background, you can see how the plants on the side of the stream were flattened by the rushing water; by the time I took this picture, much of it had receded.

The next day, we went for our regular morning walk. Instead of the peace and quiet of an early stroll, with birdsong in our ears, we were treated to the cacophony of multiple generators; so many people were still without power.

As always, Lilah leads the way on our walk.

This was not an usual sight. Throughout our neighborhood, trees rested on wires; in any normal circumstances, this would have been taken care of within hours. In many cases, days went by before trees were removed. If it wasn't an immediate danger or affected power, it stayed.

A bonus: downed trees meant there were sticks to play with on the walk.

We saw lots of wildlife on our walk. The dogs were not allowed to chase that deer you see in the background. Instead, we practiced Leave It--as in, pay attention to me instead of that thing you're really interested in. But it was a deer!

As usual, Jasper checks for squirrels in his favorite Squirrel Yard. Came up empty this time, but maybe they'll show up on our next walk. One can always hope.

When cars came by, we practiced our Sits and Stays off the road.

Ahhh...home. The sun is coming up and dinner is sure to follow once we get inside.

Later that day in our backyard, we saw a hawk on our pool fence drying out wings in the sun. He's an immature bird, not fully grown, and I'm not that great at identifying immatures, but my best guess is he's a young Cooper's Hawk.
As the days have gone by, more debris has been cleaned up. Piles of soggy belongings appeared on the sides of streets in towns like Manville and Bound Brook, indicating flooded basements. The remnants of Hurricane Lee came pouring through, adding more wet insult to injury with severe storms. 

But over the past week or so, we straightened out our butterfly bushes, attaching them to our deck with the bungee cords we had used to tie down our furniture. The branches are picked up and the creek beds are back to normal level.

I think some of our local wildlife suffered. I've only seen one flying squirrel since the storm. And some nights the peanut butter I leave out goes untouched. And only a solitary gray squirrel has visited our feeders during the day; Brian saw him. I haven't seen a one.

But the butterflies are back, and we've seen the sun a few times. Things are getting back to normal on the "mountaintop." 

A monarch feasting on buddleia (butterfly bush).

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