In Other Words: Hurricane Sandy's path followed summer vacation route of family


by Stephanie Fellenstein

Hudson Monthly editor

For 17 days this summer, we spent a vacation criss-crossing the northeast from Chincoteague, Va., through Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, into Canada.

Recently, many of the places we visited were under water after Hurricane Sandy blew through, leaving a trail of destruction across our vacation route.

Hurricane Sandy first hit near Atlantic City, N.J., on Oct. 29. Recovery efforts were under way by the next day, but at one point there were close to 8 million customers without power in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

On June 14, when we left Aurora and headed to Maryland, the weather was beautiful. It was still beautiful the next day in Annapolis as we walked to City Dock where the HMS Bounty was docked.

Built in 1960 in Nova Scotia, it was used in the 1962 film "Mutiny on the Bounty." The sun sparkled on the water that day as the Bounty's flags waved softly in the wind.

Less than five months later, the Bounty sank as it was racing from Connecticut to a frequent winter homes in St. Petersburg, Fla., trying to outrun the hurricane. One of its 16 crew members died and the captain was still missing.

FROM MARYLAND, we followed the coast down to Chincoteague Island, Va., home of the wild ponies made famous in Marguerite Henry's children's book, "Misty of Chincoteague."

Again, the weather was beautiful on that June afternoon. For two hours we boated through the grassy marshlands that surround Chincoteague and its neighboring island, Assateague.

By Oct. 29, the causeway was closed because of flooding, trapping the residents on the island. A noon curfew was issued and most of the roads on the 7-mile by 3-mile island were under water -- 3-feet deep in some spots, according to the Associated Press.

From Chinco-teague we drove north, following the coast through Delaware to Philadelphia, where we visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Betsy Ross' house.

Those sites were battered by rain recently and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority remained closed until the facilities could be inspected.

We spent a night in New Jersey and used the George Washington Bridge to cross the Hudson River to Manhattan. That bridge was shut down during the storm last Monday because of high winds.

HURRICANE Sandy forced other spots we had visited to close or evacuate like Mystic Seaport Village in Mystic, Conn., and the Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I.

Huge waves crashed up on the rocks along the Cliff Walk on the calm afternoon we hiked along the shoreline. I can't imagine what it was like during Hurricane Sandy.

We continued on, visiting Boston and New Hampshire on our way to Bar Harbor, Maine, where our campsite sat 10 feet from the ocean. It was beautiful at night watching the sun dip into the water as we searched the tide pools for treasures. I imagine today that our campsite is under water.

And the Park Look Road, the same road we followed to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, was closed .

The views from the top of the mountain during the hurricane would have been drastically different from what I saw in June.

Our trip was not finished and we crossed the border into Canada visiting New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Québec before crossing back into Vermont. Those areas were hit with high wind and water and power outages.

I think about the incredibly nice people we met along the way like a guy in the planetarium in Mystic or a woman who patiently waited as I stumbled through an explanation in my rusty, college French. I hope they, and others we met along the way, are safe.

The world is a big and beautiful place and despite the hurricane, I am confident the East Coast will be beautiful once again. It just may take a little time.


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