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Shana Ecker Headshot

Hurricane Sandy Forced Us To Be Extended House Guests... Indefinitely

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Hurricane "Frankenstorm" Sandy has brought destruction, devastation and frustration to many. But my husband and I were very lucky. Our Hoboken, NJ apartment was left unscathed by the water that poured into town last Monday night, flooding people's homes and warranting the National Guard's assistance. Except for the fact that the lack of electricity and heat forced us to be extended house guests... indefinitely.

At first, it was actually kind of relaxing. We had downloaded the first season of Downton Abbey on the iPad in anticipation, and the house without heat was just cool enough to warrant snuggling under the comforter to watch it. But I recently wrote about how the two of us have a bad habit of having the television on all the time... even during dinner. So you can just imagine what it was like after day two, when our last electronic device petered out without a charge. We then passed the time playing jenga, drinking wine with neighbors and coming up with creative recipes using our perishables that we had to consume before they spoiled.

But needless to say, when we got the text message that our good friends had their power restored early on Wednesday morning, we jumped at the chance to sleep on their sofa. By the light of our dying flashlight (note to self to stock up on batteries for future emergencies) we packed up. Not knowing how long we would be displaced made it difficult to plan for though. We grabbed some warm clothes, professional attire in case our New York offices reopened, a few necessary toiletries and a huge bag of frozen shrimp that had just started to sweat as a "hostess gift." Of course we also excitedly brought the army of electronics and their respective power cords that had one-by-one become useless to us: two laptops, two cell phones, an iPod and an iPad.

For one full week we were refuges living out of a backpack, with no sure knowledge of when we would return to Hoboken. (We had heard rumors of up to 10 days.) And we weren't alone. Our generous friends also opened their doors to family members who were without power, so it was definitely cozy. And living and working in a small apartment with six people and a dog while trying to be respectful house guests isn't easy. We tried to do our share and pitch in with meals (OK, so we ordered pizza) as well as pick up around the house. (We couldn't exactly sleep in on the living room sofa.) Taking turns showering reminded me a little of college when you would carry your products in and out with you, and because I didn't think to grab towels when I left home we were constantly running loads of laundry.

And working during the day in the apartment was a whole other story. I guess not everyone chooses to wear sweats when you're not going into an office (but why not?). And taking work calls in the bathroom so you won't be an interuption isn't the best acoustically.

Of course having electricity, heat and internet was great, but we were very much looking forward to normalcy. We are so appreciative that we had somewhere to go, and know not everyone has been as lucky, but getting a text message from our neighbor yesterday that our power had come back on was the best news we could have received.

Let us know about your Hurricane Sandy experiences in the comments below.