“This is like the Apocalypse,” my daughter said as we drove on the main road, on Tuesday afternoon, a day after Hurricane Sandy smashed New Jersey.
Traffic lights were not working. Debris of all sorts like leaves and branches littered the road. Fallen trees dotted the landscape as emergency crews were busy with the cleanup.
The skies were still dark and there was still wind and rain, but people were out on the streets and in the few stores that opened the morning after the storm. Police manned major intersections where accidents were waiting to happen because of non-working traffic lights. In fact, an accident just took place in our neighborhood. Apparently, people don’t know what to do without traffic lights.
We had been out of electricity for almost 48 hours now. We have transistor radios, flashlights, and batteries, and the water heater is still working.Water and natural gas services were uninterrupted. But cellphone signals were dead, our landline phone wasn’t working because it’s hooked to the internet (VOIP), and I was cut off from the web.
The web is where I conduct business, and it is where my job is based, and without electricity, there is no access to the web.
Hurricane Sandy has wiped out my virtual workplace. My virtual co-workers, people I work with on some projects, were also out of power so there was no way of communicating with them.
Even the kids were feeling the effects of a wired world gone haywire. They suddenly found themselves without their gadgets like iPods and their computers. I had to tell them that “in our days” we had no internet, Facebook, iPods and computers. It was difficult for them to appreciate it. (I remember my Mom telling me when I was a kid how they walked to school for miles because there were no vehicles back then, or they were still a luxury. It’s hard to appreciate things that we didn’t experience, isn’t it?)
Without electricity, cable TV and internet, and with our electronic gadgets getting drained of their reserved battery power, we suddenly had time to talk till the night, and the kids were playing together instead of playing alone with their gadgets.
We had an unfortunate guest during the storm. Christine, my wife’s friend from California. She arrived Thursday and we had planned to spend the weekend in Washington DC. But Hurricane Sandy decided to come and mess up our schedules. We had to cancel the Washington DC road trip, and she ended up getting stuck with us in our power-less home during the storm and two days after.
“At least you had a different kind of experience during your vacation,” I told her as a consolation.
She joked that were were all having “withdrawal symptoms” from not being able to use the TV, computers, iPods and iPhones, and the Internet.
“I think we’d all go crazy if power doesn’t come back tonight,” she said, as the power outage entered its 24th hour.
Crazy in fact, that I myself went through my bookshelves and took out 6 books which I thought I could finish during this electronic downtime. Believe it or not, I finished reading half of a book on Tuesday night, using a flashlight!
Now imagine a world without Internet. Imagine a world without TV. Imagine a world without cellphones. Could you live in such a world?
Will your job or will your business thrive and survive without the web?
(This post was written using a free public wifi courtesy of Urban Outfitters at the Cherry Hill Mall, an hour away from our home. We’re here on a stopover from the Philadelphia International Airport where Christine took a flight back to California.
We still have no power at home as of 4:51 Oct. 31. Jersey Central Power & Light reports 203,063 power outages in Ocean County, or about 83 percent of its customers, as of 3:30 p.m. today.)