‘I thought Sandy would lift house’: family shelter in basement

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

A COUNTY Limerick woman who was caught in the eye of Hurricane Sandy has spoken of how she thought her New Jersey home was going to lift off the ground when the natural disaster struck on Monday night.

A COUNTY Limerick woman who was caught in the eye of Hurricane Sandy has spoken of how she thought her New Jersey home was going to lift off the ground when the natural disaster struck on Monday night.

Josephine McGrath (nee Donegan) was forced to take refuge in the basement of her house in Dumont, New Jersey with her husband Michael and two children Makenzie, 12, and Cody, 10, as the hurricane battered their home and neighbourhood.

“We decided, as a family, that we were going to stay all together in the basement. At 12 o’clock I thought the whole house was going to lift off. It just was so bad. I looked out the window at one stage, there was debris everywhere. You could see shutters from houses going down the streets,” Josephine told the Leader this Wednesday afternoon from New Jersey.

The Kilmallock woman - who is a sister of Cllr Mike Donegan - began preparing for every eventuality on Sunday.

“We had heard all the warnings and Governor Christie was really good – he gave us the heads up. We made sure the generator was up and running and made sure all the freezer stuff was up from our basement. The generator we have - there is only a certain amount of watts we can use so we couldn’t run everything - we had to pick and choose.”

The first hint of the impending hurricane came on Monday morning when the winds began to intensify.

“We could hear a few cracks. The leaves were coming down tremendously. It was intensifying. We were watching on the television and saw that Sandy had taken a little left turn so we were saying it’s not going to be as bad where we are, but we were wrong.”

The McGraths home which is located approximately nine miles from the George Washington Bridge, lost power at around 7pm on Monday.

“The trees were swaying so bad,” Josephine recalled.

“My neighbours branch fell on our driveway but we had moved our car. A whole tree fell at the end of the block, on a house. The police were coming around. The fire trucks were trying to get through.”

Power was restored to their home this Wednesday but the neighbourhood is still counting the cost of Sandy.

“If you look outside our door – outside every house there are piles of trees and debris – everybody cleaned up yesterday,” continued Josephine who moved to the States 20 years ago.

Her brothers JJ and Tadhg also live in New Jersey.

As crews continue the recovery effort in the aftermath of Sandy, Governor Chris Christie has signed an executive order postponing Halloween in New Jersey until Monday.

“The kids were asking me about trick or treating today but Governor Christie says he doesn’t want any trick or treating,” said Josephine.

“I said: ‘let’s just get in the car and drive around and see’. We drove down by Cresskill. There are power lines down there and the roads are blocked. There is hardly a car on the road. I was driving for maybe 20 minutes and I passed, I would say, probably about 20 cars.”