Monday, July 2, 2012

Storm's End

The storm was Friday night.  My husband and I woke at one in the morning to the sky flashing like a strobe light.  The lightning was oddly silent.  I remember asking, "Where is the thunder?"

We retreated to the basement, fearing that a tornado was upon us.  The wind was bending the trees in our neighbor's yard like blades of grass.  This was nothing like Hurricane Irene, at least not as experienced in southern New Jersey.  There had been no warning and somehow "thunderstorms" on the forecast just didn't prepare us for the intensity of that storm.

After a very frightening hour, the storm ended.

The large riding arena.

After checking our house, our family, and searching in vain for a place selling coffee, we stopped at the barn.  We had to park our cars at the end of the driveway, because there were trees down everywhere.  Our immediate neighborhood was okay, except that we lost power, but the farm was a mess.  Just a week ago, we had our Open House so the place was neat as can be.  The last of the logs from tree removal had been carried away, and now we have to start all over again.

There are our trot poles from the other day.  The large pine has since been hacked to pieces and reduced to a very large pile of pine cones and branches in the middle of the ring.  Most of the trunk is still on the other side of the fence.

My husband and I joined the clean up crew of eight.  The heat index was over one hundred degrees.  We walked buckets of water to Harley and his buddy all day long.  They drained every one.  We drained many water bottles, too.  The barn owner bought lunch for us, but this was no small feat, as nearly all the traffic lights were out and only one store, a ShopRite, had power and was open.  It was a mad house!

The priorities were to remove trees from fencing and pathways and then repair fencing.  Harley's paddock was the worst and the really scary part is that he and his buddy were out during the storm.  This is one of the downsides of 24/7 turnout, although I am sure that there are plenty of justifications for not bringing a horse in during a storm.  Barns are not fortresses and things can go very wrong in the barn, but I do not like to think about those things.

Harley's paddock

We replaced the top section of fence.  If you have worked with this vinyl stuff before, then you know that it is not particularly user friendly.  Sturdy, though.

Thank goodness the horses were clear of the falling trees.  About five went down in Harley's paddock alone.  I cannot imagine what they must have been thinking.

The best sight ever!

Harley was decidedly not traumatized and very interested in his neighbor's hay net.

The flies were as bad as the heat wave.  Harley tried running and bucking to dislodge the pesky insects.

I am sure that the two horses comforted each other during the storm.  They stuck together like glue all day.

Hay is pretty comforting, too.

Lucky, lucky boy and lucky me.  That was too close for my comfort!

Even though the storm ended nearly 72 hours ago, we are still dealing with the aftermath.  Besides the trees, fencing, and rubble, we are also without power during a heat wave.  Thankfully, a generator was provided by a friend so that the water pumps can deliver water to the horses and the house.  We have city water at home, so we are okay in that respect, but it is so hot!  We also have to cook with our camping stove and sleep in the basement.  Oh yes, and no internet or electronics until Husband charged some things at work today.  As I type this, the battery on my laptop is draining faster than I can type.  No wonder I am sweating!

Apparently, the storm that hit us is called a "Rare Derecho Storm".  I sure hope this kind of storm is rare!  I expected damage like this after Hurricane Irene, not a seemingly random weather event.  I know that it was not random to Mother Nature, but we were definitely blindsided.  I am grateful that everyone, people and pets, are safe as some were not as fortunate, but I would really, really like to have the air conditioning back soon!

20 comments:

  1. Animals can sense changes in barometric pressure faster than we can [although my sinuses disagree with this...I always get sinus pressure before a storm.]
    Its possible they intuitively knew where to stay and what to do...regardless of how, at least they are both safe and sound.
    Sucks about the fence, though :-/

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    1. Thank you for the science-related comment!

      I am not sure if they would be able to avoid "straight-line" winds, which snapped the treetops like match-sticks, but I am glad they did just the same.

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  2. I was amazed to hear that parts of South Jersey are still out of power, or that the storm hit badly nearby at all! In the central part of the state I just heard the normal storm ruckus, and our lights went out for just a moment. One night friends only 5-10 minutes north or south of me were Facebooking about hail, and we never heard a peep!

    Likewise, after Irene we got off with some minor flooding in low spots, but otherwise OK -- hearing about roads washed out in North Jersey was bizarre! Such a big difference across such a small state...

    Glad to hear you and Harley made it through relatively unscathed, and hope you get the AC back soon!

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    1. Thank you for the well wishes.

      I know what you mean. New Jersey is a big state trapped in a little state's body!

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  3. I'm glad you and Harley are okay.

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  4. Glad to hear that everyone is safe and sound. Clean up sucks, especially those vinyl fences. We have them here and when they get broken it's a bear to get them right again. Never heard of that kind of storm but I hope it is rare and doesn't happen again. Fingers crossed for your air conditioning.

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    1. We had to splice a section of vinyl in to replace the damaged part. The metal clips that are supposed to connect two pieces like a belt take a lot of strength and finesse to get the pieces together and locked in place. It took several attempts to make it work.

      Thanks for commiscerating!

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  5. Glad you guys are all right. (especially Harley!) ;) Hope the utilities get sorted asap.

    I think horses would rather be outside the barn in a storm. Ours get in the corners furthest away form the trees and put their tails to the wind, noses to the ground.

    We got that storm system last night. The wind went from 0 - 60 in about three seconds. The trees bent in half. A good reminder to prune away from the fenceline anticipating hurricane season.

    My farm is fine, but sadly lightening struck a neighbors house and burned it down.

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    1. I am very sorry to hear about your neighbor's house.

      That is exactly what happened to our trees. Live, huge, healthy trees just snapped in half. After that, I am not looking forward to hurricane season! We are basically in the pine barrens, so it is very difficult to avoid trees near the paddocks. There are Atlantic County green acres behind the farm, so no cutting. That is a good thing, though.

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  6. Holy cow, Val! What a scary mess. I am so glad to hear that the damage was limited to trees and fencing. I hope your power returns soon as well. No AC? I would die ... Let us know how things progress.

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    1. Me too! I would be happy with a fan at this point, but no power means no fans either. Will do my best to keep you posted.

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  7. Oh boy that is scary .....I am hearing all about your weather on the news here in NZ. ......in fact as I was typing a big earthquake has hit NZ ....I've just jumped off sofa to hold the book shelf to stop things falling off .....was a 6.3 centred in Wellington ( 4 hours from here) So I guess wild things happening all round the world. Stay safe!

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    1. What?! I hope everyone is okay, Sally. That is very strange.

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  8. Glad to hear Harley and his friend were unharmed. Hopefully the power is restored to your area as soon as they are able.

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  9. You must have been terrified! I imagine Harley got one heck of a hug once you saw that pasture and knew that he was okay.

    I'm so glad you and yours made it through okay, even if you don't have power.

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    1. Many big hugs!

      I did not realize how bad it was until we drove around and found every store and traffic light in darkness. Our neighborhood is fairly new, so I did not know that so many large trees were down until we got closer to the farm. When I saw the paddock, I knew things could have been much worse. Working in the heat all day and carrying water buckets to my horse was much better than the alternative.

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  10. I'm so glad to hear you made it through the storms!

    We're in the same boat down here in Salem County, too. The electric company is saying our power won't be up until Friday. But, we've got a generator to run our well, our fridge and our internet, so we'll be alright!

    I hope your power gets turned on sooner than mine!

    As far as shelter for horses goes, I grew up in Louisiana where we had storms like this all the time. I saw some truly horrific things happen to horses who were locked in stalls during a storm. Horses have an instinctive drive to protect themselves during a storm, but when we lock them up we take that ability away from them. They are safer out during the storms. Barns are for people, not horses.

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    1. Thanks, Shannon. That makes me feel much better about having left him outside. Being trapped when something goes wrong does sound like a horrible thing.

      I heard that Salem County was hit very badly as well. I am glad that you and your family and pets are okay. Let's hope the rest of the summer is uneventful!

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