Sandy Comes a Knockin’

That's my garage door after the storm. You can see the water line. Fortunately, my car was on higher ground and my house is built 2 feet higher than my garage. I'm guessing my lawnmower isn't going to start next time.

I was going to write about a very cool sunburst ES-355 sent to me by a reader but that will have to wait since I’m currently homeless. In case you don’t watch the news (and who can blame you), we had a storm here in the East. I have the (usually) good fortune of living on the water. The downside is, of course, the water. My house was built at what they call the “100 year flood” elevation. That means every 100 years or so, you can expect the water to reach this record level. Anything higher would be unprecedented in recorded history. Last year. Hurricane Irene was our 100 year flood. We survived that one with little damage and we thought we could kind of relax for the next 100 years. Well, one year and two months later, here comes Hurricane Sandy-even bigger and badder than Irene. We evacuated this time and went to stay with friends in the next town. I took a J-200 and a Fender Esquire with me and brought the rest of the guitars to my office. Then we settled in at our friends house to watch the weather reports and, more importantly, the tide readings. You can get a real time reading every six minutes that includes the predicted tide, the actual tide and the “residual” which in this case is added to the actual tide. That’s the storm surge you hear so much about. The tide was predicted to be 7 feet. The surge 5-10 feet. If you do the math you can see I’m screwed. If the surge is 10 feet and it hits at high tide, that will be a 17 foot tide. The one hundred year elevation is 12 feet which would allow for a 13.8 foot tide (don’t ask why) before my house is under water. So, potentially, my main floor is under 3.2 feet of water if the surge is as predicted and it hits at high tide. My friend George, with whom we are staying is an MIT trained engineer and spent Monday evening on the computer doing “models” that showed where the water was and where it was likely to go. High tide was to hit at 11:57 PM Monday. At 6:24 PM, the surge hit 9 feet and it was low tide. So at low tide predicted to be around sea level, the tide was already 9 feet which is flood stage. There was another 7 feet of tide coming in the next 6 hours and the surge was increasing as the easterly wind piled up water in Long Island Sound. By 8 oclock, the surge was nearly 10 feet and the tide had risen to 2.6 feet putting us at 12.6. George’s chart said at this rate we’d be looking at another 4 feet of surge and another 4.5 feet of tide. That would put the water at 21 feet or just below the second floor of my house (where my guitars usually live). Then he showed me the wind chart showing that the hurricane had turned inland and the winds were shifting toward the southeast which would stop the water from piling up any further in the Sound. So we waited for the surge to reverse. By 9 o’clock it was down to 9 feet but the tide was up to 4 feet putting the water at 13 feet. I had less than a foot before the house was inundated. At 10, the surge was down to 8 feet but the tide was above 5 feet putting the water just 8 inches from the floor. But George’s data said the surge was falling faster than the tide and that we would be OK. This is a guy who worked at NASA during Apollo 13 and if he says it’ll be OK, I’m inclined to believe him. The water peaked at 13.26 feet a few minutes later. That’s about 6 inches from disaster. The surge was falling faster than the tide was rising and, barring another wind shift, my house was safe.  By high tide, the surge had dropped to 4 feet and we were out of danger. The good news is that my family was safe. It’s great that my house and my guitars all survived as well but that’s just stuff. All insured and replaceable.  And thanks to George (and his wife Cheryl) for keeping my head from exploding during the worst of it.  I’ll write about this again in another 100 years (or after the next “100 year” event which if it follows the recent timetable will be next December)…

This is Fairfield Beach-a couple of beaches from where I live in Westport.

7 Responses to “Sandy Comes a Knockin’”

  1. rob says:

    Glad to hear you survived this. Although we not on the water, our power has a poor history in any type of severe storm and I was sure that we would lose it this time just as we did in a freak intense electrical storm just a few days prior to July 4 when our electrical power was out for seven days. As soon as the winds started passing about 20 knots, I moved said Sunburst 355 to the upstairs to keep it as far from any potential flooding as possible. Of course Murphy’s Law prevailed and we lost not a nano-second of juice.

  2. Gordon Walker says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. Glad that you and your family ( and the guitars) are safe and well. I’m formerly from New Orleans, now living in California. I was long gone before Katrina, but my wife still has family there
    and I was back after the storm when my daughter graduated Tulane. The city
    and especially the region are not the same.
    Did you see that ” Brownie” criticized Obama for responding too quickly ?
    Glad I’m not a satirist, it’s hard to caricature this stuff.
    Anyhoo, I’m glad you and yours are safe.


  3. RAB says:

    Wow, scary stories but glad to hear things worked out. I am sure many weren’t so fortunate and my thoughts go out to them. Here in California we mainly have earthquakes and wild fires to contend with, both very hazardous to vintage git-tars!

  4. Colin says:

    I’m glad to hear that your family is safe. It’s also nice that your stuff survived, though I bet it will be a bit grating to scrub that bathtub ring off of your house. I’d still live at the beach in a heartbeat.

    Your post mentioned insurance for your guitars, and if I don’t ask now, I’ll never remember to do so: what have you found the best strategy for insuring a rotating collection/inventory? Top-line coverage, or each item individually? Any horror stories or things to stay away from?

    Also, I promise not to spread the rumor that you run the most comprehensive ES-3×5 site, but saved an Esquire and a J-200 during the hurricane (great call on the J-200, BTW).

  5. OK Guitars says:

    The only reason I didn’t “save” any 335s is that I didn’t have any at the moment. I had just sold my entire inventory in the previous week and delayed delivery on the next batch until after the storm.
    But thanks for keeping that to yourself (and 70,000 other discreet readers:) I’m insured through a company called Heritage. They are great. Call them and they will help you put together a policy that works for your specific situation.

  6. Gordon Walker says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Hope you & your family are doing OK. Keeping a good thought for you.

  7. OK Guitars says:

    Thank you. We are fine. A little dirty, perhaps.

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