Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

That Close to a Crawlspace Dive; Desperately Seeking Shot of Sandy

This Monday past, I came that close to experiencing the dreaded pipe ice over.

Waking in the really wee hours, I realized I had forgotten to keep a slow flow of water going through my new bathroom and kitchen pipes. “Sommabitch!”

I got to all the spigots fast enough, though they coughed a bit before issuing forth. But, my new water-saver john moaned after flushing, then issued this horrid, blood red water into the bowl. That was a rusty ice signature I’d seen before. And when the refill flow prematurely ground to a halt during the following flush, I feared it was time for me to go crawlspace diving, propane tank in hand.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of crawlspace diving in winter, picture going from a warmth-enveloped sleep to stumbling out into the wind to squeeze under house to do a hands-and-knees crawl across frigid crawlspace sand before sitting down on icy ground to spark-up a propane tank before sitting on icy ground, discretely blue-flaming upon what might – or might not – be the frozen place in the pipe. As the piece of pipes warms, there’s way too much time to think about where in the world you might rather be at that moment. “Kandahar wouldn’t be bad right about now.”

Fortunately, the flow from the new spigots seemed to get the juices flowing again throughout the entire piping system. An odd gurgling sound preceded a rush of clean, fresh water into the toilet storage tank. I was joyously relieved of my crawlspace diving duties. However, from some neighbor reports, freeze-ups were rampant last night. I always warned it is the wind, not the cold, that killed the crapper – and other pipes.

RECOVERY, MY A**: The concept of post-Sandy recovery is a total buncha bull. And I say that in due respect.

My Ship Bottom home is well on the bumpy road to becoming something better-than-ever, through the incredible and speedy repair work of Michael Farrington Tile and Marble. Give Mike a friendly wave when you see his white truck. Despite Mike’s top-notch TLC, I have to contend with the lingering fear that my home is very far from a recovery.

By my thinking, the concept of recovery is anchored by the notion of things returning to normalcy, i.e. the way things were. Well, that just ain’t happenin’ for, oh, so many of us.

As we watch repairs and upgrades play out, it quickly becomes disconcertingly obvious that the new look, albeit it better, is still something invasively alien. “What’s this mysterious bathroom suddenly doing in my house?”

From the Sandy-fied get-go, I fully realized major rebuilding was my only hope of staying in-house – and on-Island. I embraced the rebuild – in a survivalist vein. But, just like that oddly articulate baby on the E-Trade commercial, who used “extra coin” to invest in a clown, I hadn’t counted on the creepiness.

I’ve lived in my house for nearly 50 years now – and I knew the old girl was ahurtin’ for a facelift. What I hadn’t anticipated was the overwhelming adjustment that must be made in the face of, well, her new face. My relatively rebuilt house slowly has me realizing things just ain’t gonna be the same. Hey, they’ll be better, for sure. Just not the same.

I didn’t realize how attached I had gotten to things being just the same. Perfect microcosmic example: my new kitchen. It’s mighty damn decent – a butcher knife cut above what I had before – but after three weeks in it, I’m still constantly reaching for ghost items that were thrown out with the demo phase. When I’m a little groggy, I’ll even blurt out, “Now where in bloody hell did the pantry go!?” It sleeps in Ohio, Jay. You’re going to have to get over it.

I was talking with a buddy who is literally mourning the loss of the knotty pine paneling ripped from a house he has known his entire life. Boy does that make perfect sense.

I’m betting I have to go back to scratch to build a brand new sameness. While I’m not totally sure what that means, I’ll bet a load of folks can relate.

DESPERATELY SEEKING SANDY: There is something of a cinemagraphic rush to document Superstorm Sandy. Three or four serious documentaries are underway in the LBI vicinity alone. It’s one of those it’s-all-good things. So many people were impacted that it could require dozens of books and films.

Here at The SandPaper, we’ve been very close to Down the Shore’s publishing and its famed Great Storms of the Jersey Shore (1993). Closely covering all Shore storms has become our thing, especially via my office, where coastal weather reigns supreme.

The arriving documentation of Sandy is going to be unique to Jersey Shore storm recording. The unique and extensive input from mini-cams, cellphones and an array of high-megapixel cameras should offer captures unheard of back in the March ’62 days. I kinda pity those who have to collect, catalogue and make hide/hair of all that is out there.

By historic reckoning, the Great March Storm was far more of a looker, so to speak. Its violence on LBI left hundreds of homes strewn everywhichaplace. Hell, there were one-time oceanfront houses suddenly lounging atop the Boulevard. In some instances, those off-site buildings were simply pushed onto the side of the road to allow the approaching summer to carry on as usual.

The summer after the March Storm saw beachgoers lying in the shade of wayward houses still stranded atop beachfront sands. As ferocious as the March Storm was, it pretty much just rolled off the backs of not just the locals but even the summerites and dayhoppers.

Life was sure different back then. The relatively quick recovery actually highlights how thoroughly modern Sandy has become, the storm that just won’t die – impact-wise.

While LBI-ish life will surely be up and running by this summer – on seven out of eight cylinders – the trickledown effect of the storm will surely be spilling over. As much as 80 percent of all Island houses from the Causeway south will be sporting a new look and feel – or will be functioning a bit out of sorts. It might very well be called the Island’s next phase.

OCEAN FLOOD CONNECTION: A push is also on to gather photographic and video evidence of ocean water rivering down the streets of Ship Bottom at the height of Sandy.

Admittedly, there weren’t a slew of folks on the Island for this (possible) 500-year storm event. Still, if you happen to be one of the few on-sceners, like emergency personnel, who might have captured some photo evidence of the sea surging over the dunes and down the streets, it is invaluable. Such data will help fill in the gaps, as efforts are made to make sure FEMA gets every jot of flood info.

Boroughs like Ship Bottom are seeking irrefutable visual and anecdotal evidence that destruction from Sandy was a combined ocean and bay event. It was. I saw it. And don’t let anyone try to tell you differently.

I’m already hearing nonsense that the ocean wasn’t a key player in the flooding that wrecked things for so many of us. Expectedly, that’s part of the preposterous – and heartless – easement holdout rhetoric.

By my thinking, had the ocean not come over the dunes and down the street in Ship Bottom – literally, in waves – the flooding would not have been as severe.

And it’s bloody personal for me. My home came so close to NOT having water go inside. It was a matter of maybe six inches. But with flooding, if you’re in for an inch, you’re in for a dollar – make that $25,000, out of pocket.

You won’t soon be convincing me that millions of gallons of ocean water cascading down 17th Street in Ship Bottom – one of many washover points at Sandy’s peak – didn’t hike the floodwaters up just enough to cost me a financial arm and a leg. According to the Ship Bottom mayor, there were many ruined homes that were only an inch or so from going unscathed. Again, once that floodwater hits the floorboards, you’re fully involved. Any holdouts wanna cover my loses? I’ll offer you a great view of them.

SURF FISHERMEN JUMP FORTH: I had an interesting call from a surfcaster named Jim Hall. He’s heading up an effort called Surf Fishermen for Recovery. It’s a rapidly growing coalition of sportsmen wanting to offer help to folks knocked on their asses by Sandy.

Jim says the group is in its formative phases but already has a large following, essentially awaiting word on how (and who) to help out. The group is best reached by searching Facebook for “Surf Fishermen for Recovery” or athttps://www.facebook.com/groups/surffishermanforrecovery/?fref=ts.

I’m looking to get them a website, ASAP.

While not having its own nonprofit status, SFFR is aligned with an existing nonprofit. I’ll be helping this group of anglers and hope any and all outdoorsmen who want to help the recovery effort at a personal level will throw in with the group.

More info in the near future.

CODEINE MISERY: If it ain’t one thing it’s a dozen or more. I’m slowly recovering after accidentally taking some codeine. Yes, it was highly accidental because I’m a one-in-20 soul dangerously allergic to the stuff. I went wretched for so long, I had to do an ER visit last night for IV fluid and anti-nausea. The anti-nausea medicine could only go straight to the vein. Nothing swallowed stayed down long enough to reach body temperature.

My self-poisoning arose when I got two prescriptions from my dentist after significant dental implant work. One prescription was for an essential antibiotic. The other was a highly unessential (for me) painkiller, an analgesic and codeine combo.

I fully knew to steer miles clear of the painkiller but damn if I didn’t accidentally give the wrong script to the CVS pharmacist. Hell, I was rushing all around at the time, per usual.

Returning later for the pick-up, I was even in a higher state of high-rushedness. I zipped into CVS and grabbed the medicine.

Breaking the cardinal rule of all medicine taking, I didn’t closely read the container. Not only did I down something capable of damn near killing me, I did it on an empty stomach. That sent the drug into absorption overdrive. I’ll note that I have no problem with antibiotics, even on an empty stomach. Still, my F-up was inexcusably moronic. And I paid. Lord, I paid.

I won’t get into the hours of sheer hell I went through, capped by the ER stint, but I have to share something that even the checkout lady at CVS will recall, since she brought it up. As I was paying, my change was $6.66. I swear. Either the Man up above was trying to warn me or some satanic force wanted to make sure it was fully credited with putting me through hell.

Aftereffect: During my days of pharmaceutical poison sickness – it was allegedly only hours but you can’t convince me of that – I absolutely could not get this slice of a song out of my head, it kept driving laps through my brain. It was the refrain from my “Little Talk,” by Of Monsters and Men. It was a fully favorite song. When I tried listening to it after my sickness, I had to immediately click it off … flashbacks. It’s as if my stomach screamed “No!”

Perched Red Tail Hawk

NATURE NOTES: I was forwarded an unusually insightful news story on our regional raptors and how the rodent death toll from the superstorm is leaving many a hawk and owl with empty talons. It’s likely that millions of coastal rodents bought the farm in the flood.

Sure, a rousing chorus of cheers will instinctively issue forth from humankind, upon hearing of a precipitous rodent reduction. We just don’t get the big bio-picture, especially when it comes to warf rats and kitchen mice. By our thinking: A dead rodent is a worthy rodent.

In reality, the natural world, us included, could not hope to survive without mice, moles, shrews, rats, squirrels, beavers, porcupines, Guinea pigs, hamsters and friends. DYK (did you know) rodents comprise 40 percent of the entire mammalian ball of wax? Remove that sector and the gaps will eat up the rest of the biosystem.

Which bring us to the rodent shortage befalling raptors – big birds of prey being one of the more humanly beloved segments of nature. Many/most raptors live and breathe rodents. In fact, the winter dining options for many a taloned and feathered friend are slim and none when rodents are erased from the menu board.

I now expect to see raptors, mainly hawks, hawking turkey buzzards over gooey road kill and such. When it comes to the job of survival, no finicky eaters need apply.

Somewhat unexpectedly, even the larger raptors we’ve got won’t be winning carrion-based face-offs when going beak-to-beak with vultures. Raptors can’t cut it when going up against street gangs of scavengers, boasting six-foot wingspans. What’s more, as ugly and ungainly as vultures appear, they are ferocious scrappers. They’re more than willing to proactively attack when it comes to fighting for a carcass.

Vultures may eat only dead stuff but they’re more than willing to bite the crap out of living things that get into their business. I sure wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a snapping turkey vulture, wielding a beak oozing killer bacteria from a life of gnawing on rotten meat. Other forms of wildlife must instinctively know this.

As for that rodent reduction, don’t sweat it. The repopulating rate of rodents is astronomical, made more so by the fact that they have larger litters when populations are under stress. It’s the raptors that have to weather this out, clear through spring. They could regularly handle such stresses, no sweat. The ongoing problem is how far from recovered they remain after decades of deadly abuse at the chemical hands of DDT, PCB, carbofuran, et al.

While there isn’t much that can be done to feed your local raptor in its time of need, I might advise keeping Fifi and Meow Dearest indoors for the immediate future.

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Comment by Dave Nederostek on February 24, 2013 at 12:26am

Good stuff, I'd like to know whatever became of Mann overboard up there, lol. And where that was taken. Talk about being in the right place and time...

The  satellite pic jots my memory of that previous Saturday night while I was staring at it off the Virginia coast, wondering how many trees would be sleeping with me the next day.

Last week( actually the 14th)  Intelligencer  out of Doylestown, there was a headline, with a picture of Beach Haven on the boulevard telling us this: "Many shore homes unscathed by Sandy with business as usual". And then there was this: 

The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce reported that more than 90 percent of Long Beach Island’s rentals will be available this spring and summer, and all restaurants will be open.

In 2011, Long Beach Island and nearby areas drew $1.2 billion in tourism dollars and kept 20,000 people employed, said Lori Pepenella, a director of tourism for the chamber.

She made it clear that the island and nearby areas had not suffered much from Superstorm Sandy.

“Long Beach Island is beautiful, and it’s open,” Pepenella said. “The business community has been working hard.”

Maybe, but I'd still blow a gasket if I were a resident reading this. You may want to have a chat with her.


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