We'd purchased enough candy for an army in preparation for a Halloween 2012 that never happened. Rain had already started on Sunday, Oct. 28, and the winds were brisk enough to kill our electricity, but only for a couple of hours. I thought we were out of the woods.
The full force of what the weather people ultimately would call Superstorm Sandy didn't hit until Monday the 29th, and we were glued to our TV all day as the storm intensified. We kept monitoring the New York reports on television and online, as they predicted major flooding in lower Manhattan.
At the time, I just couldn't visualize the kind of damage that was to come. We were fixated on TV images of a crane high above a 57th Street construction site as crews rushed to secure it. With the intense winds, no one knew what would happen.
I'd put a roast in the oven, and as I pulled it out at 5:15 p.m., the lights flickered once, then went out. They wouldn't come on for nearly seven days.
Outside, we could hear the wind whistling and the rain pelting our house. I glanced out the kitchen window and saw nothing but black all around us and up the street. I was optimistic -- then. At 6:30 p.m., I set the table in the kitchen for our forced, albeit romantic, candlelight dinner, and served the roast with a salad and some cold veggies.
My wife located a wonderful crank-up radio that we'd received as a subscriber gift from NPR. ( I really must send them a thank you since that radio saved our lives for the duration) and we started hearing reports from around the state about initial damage. People who were considering evacuating their homes called in to report their circumstances. Some of the reports brought us to tears.
Being the caffeine fiend I am, I decided Tuesday morning, the 30th, that I had to have my coffee. So I manually opened my garage. I was stunned by what I saw. My route took me around downed wires and trees but somehow I reached the sacred Doughnut Inn parking lot. The line was snaking around the building and, of course, the coffee was strictly cash. Thank goodness I had a few bucks.
I stood in line for what seemed like forever, listening to stories of waterfront damage and destruction and wondered what life south of Old Post Road must be like. And that was before these neighbors of mine had even assessed the true damage. I learned also that Fairfield Ludlowe High School had become a shelter for hundreds of residents.
But we didn't learn for days about the true extent of the physical, let alone emotional, damage to so many Fairfield residents. All anyone knew was that Sandy had brought this town to its knees. And that was only Tuesday, Oct. 30.
As I write this, it's Oct. 23, 2013. The weather is cool and crisp, the sun is shining and no tropical storms are on the horizon. The devastation is past -- most of it, anyway -- but the pain and ugly memories linger for so many. FEMA is an acronym immediately recognized by shoreline residents and many inland.
We're planning another quiet Halloween. A lot of folks near the water have raised their houses to levels that meet new flood requirements, collectively spending millions on renovations or rebuilds.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.