This past weekend’s pre-Halloween snowstorm is already being called “historic” on the Weather Channel. I’m not sure what earns it that distinction—it’s hardly the Abe Lincoln of snowstorms and only really noteworthy for the amount of tree branches down and the fact that it wasn’t even November yet—but it seems like everyone managed to pull through and survive. At least, I haven’t seen news to the contrary, and that suits me just fine. Many are still without power as of press time, including my own family in Parsippany, but from all accounts I’ve heard, being alive without electricity is better than being dead, no matter how often you check your email.

4 p.m. Saturday afternoon found me trying—against my better judgment and sense of self-preservation—to leave the house. A band I’d sort of been in for about two years was scheduled to play their last show in Roselle Park (it would also be their first with me involved), and I wanted to be there to do a couple songs with them to mark the occasion.

There are two ways out of the valley where I live: Left and right. There’s a hill left, so I thought I’d go right and avoid getting stuck in the snow, which looked like it hadn’t yet been even touched by a plow. Branches down all over the place, I swerved to avoid them across the road, at one point going off the side, but being able to get my car back on and keep going. Soon though, I found a tree too big to move out of the way had fallen across the whole street, and that basically there was no way through.

All of a sudden, there was a deluge. It was snowing hard anyway, but the wind must have picked up, because the snow starting coming in bigger chunks from tree branches, and in many cases, bringing those branches with it. I needed to back up in my car, but I couldn’t see out my back window for the snow that had just fallen on it, and couldn’t see out my front or know if anything was coming down on my car because of the whiteout. I put it in park, hit my flashers and got out.

Most of what was falling was a lot of little stuff, small branches that would be a nuisance, but not do any real damage, but there were some bigger trees as well. My goal all of a sudden became to get back home before something else blocked my path and I got stuck there. It was only about a half-mile, and I was dressed warm, but if I could avoid leaving my car in the middle of the road in a snowstorm, I’d certainly rather.

I lived, obviously. I made it back home and even tried going the other way, only to find it also blocked by a tree that (again, at press time) still continues to hang on the power lines. I wouldn’t make it to the show, which I don’t think happened, and I wouldn’t have power for another few hours, but no one I know got hurt and when the lights came on, my wife and I made cookies and drank beer and listened to obscure French and Dutch psychedelia. All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening. Unlike the situation with Hurricane Irene, I even had Internet, so checking my email wasn’t a problem.

That said, there’s still a power line dangling in the middle of my street, and as much as the trees and debris have been cleared from the roads, there’s still a lot more to go, and one has to wonder why the streets weren’t salted ahead of time. Governor Christie declared a state of emergency, which gave him the power to decide where county cleanup crews went and, essentially, who got their roads cleared first. My neighborhood is pretty steadfast G.O.P., so we got it quick. Still can’t help but think maybe someone should’ve salted the roads ahead of time. Call me crazy.

Par for the course. I’d have a hard time directly blaming the Republican governor for the weather itself, but the preparation for the storm—which was nothing if not well-publicized—sucked, and so did the response. After the orgy of budget cuts across the state, I can’t help but imagine how it might have been different had someone not screaming for attention on the national stage been in charge of the emergency.

So it goes,

JJ Koczan

jj@theaquarian.com

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