My grandson was born during Hurricane Sandy. It was quite an adventure for our family, but especially for my son, his wife, 3 year old son Dylan and, of course, newborn baby Ryan.
It all started a few days before the storm, when the news reports were preparing everyone in the area, especially homes near the Jersey shore and Hudson River, for a tremendous storm surge that was to occur. The likes of which, they reported, had not been seen for centuries. My son, living in Hoboken New Jersey, with a wife who was about to give birth, decided to take his chances and not evacuate the area, as had been suggested by the police, and both NJ and NY State and City officials. His sister-in-law offered an apartment to use, which would have been near the hospital, in Manhattan, they had planned on using for the delivery of their child. My son and his wife declined the offer.
The hurricane began in our area on October 29 and continued during the evening, when our power went off.. We live in West Caldwell, New Jersey. My son, was monitoring the hurricane's strength, by taking pictures of the raging water and ensuing flooding, which he was observing from his lobby. For example, he saw a sailboat which was washed ashore over the rocks and onto a jetty. The flood waters were rising quickly. The police were using his building as a temporary headquarters, since their usual station had been flooded. By this time, he had also lost power in his apartment.
At 2 AM we got a call from our son to say that his wife's water had broken and she was going into labor. He asked us to come and stay with his 3 year old son, while he took his wife to the hospital. Of course he was not able to get to his car, since it was parked across the street in a garage and that street was completely flooded by this time. We wondered what we would be able to do for him. How would we get there?
However, we can never refuse our children's requests. We packed a few bags, got in our car and took off for Hoboken to help our children in distress. We drove on Route 46, and then turned onto Route 3. We were one of the only cars on the road, except for some occasional police cars. It was pitch black, since most areas were without power. The wind was raging and tree fragments were everywhere on the ground. Pools of water were also common and in the dark we periodically drove through standing water. As we were nearing Giant Stadium, on the way to our destination, there was a road block. The highway was closed. We were forced to exit and continue on our way on a back route, as we were determined to rescue our family. We used the car navigator and drove on a road called Patterson Plank Road, which was at the back of the stadium. It turned out that the road had been closed due to flooding and the road block had been washed away. Since the visibility was awful, due to the rain and power outages, we drove into a flooded section of the road and the engine died.
What were we to do? We called 911. My husband decided to wade in the icy water to talk with the first rescue vehicle, a police car, that arrived but stopped just outside the flooded area. My husband had just had hip replacement surgery a few weeks before and I was terrified that he would fall in the dark waters. I was also fearful of fallen electric power lines that could be lurking in the shadows.
In a short time, a fire truck met us in order to take us to a shelter in East Rutherford. My husband, who was still standing in the water and the fire rescuers helped pull me out of the car and onto the truck, without having to step in the water. They wouldn't allow us to take any of our packed bags, except when we explained that my husband's medicine was in one of them.
The shelter had no power, but was using a generator. The place was full of stranded people like us. Many homes were flooded in the area and the residents had been evacuated to this location. I decided to give my husband the remaining cot, under his protest, since I knew that he would be able to sleep under these circumstances, even though his pants and shoes were soaking wet. I, on the other hand, would never be able to shut my eyes, even though I was dry, and spent my time texting with my son in Hoboken, giving him an update on our situation.
Luckily, it happened that he was able to get an ambulance to come to his building through the flooded streets. He, his expectant wife and 3 year old son were driven to a hospital in Jersey City. This hospital was without power, as well, but was using generators. Since my son was not allowed into the Labor room, due to the fact that he was with his young son, who should not be experiencing his mother's exclamations during the labor process.
My son continued to text me that he really needed us to be there, so that his wife wouldn't be alone. What could we do? We were stranded at a shelter, without a car. I called a few taxi services, but they would only take us locally. Finally in the morning, after a breakfast of cereal and juice, provided by the shelter, we were able to locate a rental car company who could pick us up and take us to their facility. We rented an SUV, hoping to get us through the debris of the flooded streets.
We finally got to the hospital about 1PM, after going to the police station to find our car, which had been towed to a lot in the area. We had to get the newborn's crib out of the trunk, when we located the car, but we couldn't open the trunk when we got there, since the electrical system had shut down. A technician helped us retrieve the item and we were on our way.
At the hospital, we picked up our elder grandson, my son was able to see his wife and soon afterward , baby Ryan was born. This was about 2 PM the day after our nightmare began. We just got to see the baby when they told us to leave the hospital, since no visitors were allowed due to the power failure.
When we arrived home, the lights were on!! However, Hoboken was still without power and of course, the new little family, and my daughter-in-law’s parents (who had arrived, from Florida right after the birth) had to stay with us for a few days until the power in Hoboken was restored. Another son, his 2 children, his wife's parents, traveling from Portland, Oregon also stayed with us, due to lack of power in Fairfield, Connecticut.
While writing this story about our family's adventures, during hurricane Sandy, I am reminded that it all ended well, except for a minor casualty of a car that must be replaced. I am very grateful that we are all well, especially baby Ryan and his mother. This is a story our family will be repeating for many years to come at all family gatherings and this written record of the events leading up to Ryan’s birth will definitely be placed in his “Baby Book” for posterity.