Life in Cape May: Prepping for Hurricane Sandy

Cape May -  I’m checking the National Hurricane Center website once again, sifting through tea leaves, trying to see the future.

We got the first robo call Friday night  – voluntary evacuations Saturday and  mandatory evacuations Sunday for Cape May city.

Irene all over again. I have vivid memories of leaving our house at 5AM on an August morning and looking back, wondering if I’d ever see the house again. We were lucky.

This time, maybe not so much.  What to do? Do we stay or do we go? If we lived anywhere near the ocean, we’d be out of here ASAP.  Much too vulnerable. Much too dangerous.

Just as the sun is coming up Saturday, Paul meets Captain Ray from The Tide Runner, at the dock.  They pull Paul’s boat out of the water.

A lot of other boaters are doing the same thing. The storm surge from Sandy could be enormous. As much as ten feet.

I head to the Acme in North Cape May – it’s jammed. Why didn’t I do this yesterday. I pick up water, milk, coffee. Life’s essentials. I throw some paper towels in the cart as well,  just in case. Just in case we stay.  In the aisles of the Acme, I am beginning to lean towards staying. I talk to several people. They all say the same thing. Where else can we go? The weather maps paint a picture of no safe refuge anywhere.

Over at Victorian Towers, Cape May’s senior citizen residence next to the mall, they’re closing the building Sunday.  All of the folks living there must evacuate.  No one stays.  That includes our 85 year old family matriarch.  We arrange for her to hitch a ride out of town with our niece, Becky.  They’re leaving early Sunday morning, heading for my sister’s home in New York.

Along the beachfront, it’s clear Cape May is taking this storm very seriously.

Public works crews are removing every single bench along the promenade and trucking them to a safe location. The crews say they’re taking away all of the trash cans and bike racks as well. Anything that the wind and waves could turn into a moving missile.

Some smart shopkeepers along the oceanfront are boarding up windows late Saturday.

What astounds me, driving along Beach Ave., is that so many ocean front buildings are not yet boarded up. Maybe they’ll do it Sunday.

I’m at Swain’s Hardware buying screws so we can board up a couple of our big windows and the hardware store guy tells me it looks like not as many people are planning to take that precaution this time around.

In truth, it’s hard to imagine a major storm coming our way Saturday.  During the day the Washington Street Mall is surprisingly busy.  The sun is out and tourists are everywhere.

By the end of the day, the beachfront is empty.  None of the remaining visitors say they plan to be here Sunday.

The last few hardy souls watch as the sea starts churning.  The ocean is giving hints, baby hints, of what’s in store for Cape May.

Huricane Sandy is still far away but we’re prepping as fast as we can. We can see her coming.


More  Sandy Stories:

Sunday – Cape May Point Braces for Sandy

Saturday – Life in Cape May: Prepping for Sandy

Friday – Waiting for Sandy

About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak is a journalist, a gardener and a Cape Island resident. She's also Cape May Times' photographer. She founded Cape May Times after a long and lively career in TV news.