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home : columns : dave fjeld June 24, 2016


11/28/2012 9:41:00 AM
Life in a hurricane
Most of us Midwesterners will never know or feel the power of a hurricane. We can only imagine what it must be like.
When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast several weeks ago, we saw live reports from the hurricane-stricken areas and still today we see the aftermath of the historic weather event.
Windom natives Brady Haugen and his brother, Dustin or "DJ," can now say they know the power of a hurricane. Brady arrived in the New York/New Jersey area two days before the hurricane's arrival. His reasons were several-fold: first, he was doing design work in that area; secondly, he was picking up a car he had purchased there; and third, he was visiting his brother in East Windsor, N.J., which is 40 miles north of Philadelphia and about six miles south of where DJ operates an opera house. Although he believed that the hurricane's path wouldn't make a direct hit on the area where he would be staying, he also reasoned that it might be interesting to see what a hurricane is like.
"But I never realized the intensity of it," says Brady, who stopped by the Citizen recently to share his experiences.
DJ's apartment is about 50 miles straight west and just south of where the hurricane hit the Atlantic coast. While East Windsor didn't feel the brunt of the hurricane as it crashed on shore, the city still had plenty of damage from fallen or uprooted trees and downed power lines.
Brady says that the scramble at stores prior to the hurricane was similar to Windomites preparing for an impending blizzard - except multiplied more than a hundred-fold because of the greater number of people. The Haugens also stocked up on milk and bread, just in case, but also were still taking the storm somewhat casually.
Because the Haugens were farther inland, they remained in DJ's home as the hurricane reached East Windsor.
"We still had power in his apartment and were watching all the stuff that was happening. Then we started to get power glitches. That was at midnight or 1 o'clock," Brady recalls. "At that time there had been constant 50 mile per hour winds for like three or four days.
"Then, just before the power went out, we heard that it did hit land and we were like, 'This is probably the worst it's going to get, because once it hits land it will die pretty quickly,'  " he reasoned.
Wrong!
Despite warnings to stay inside, Brady and DJ ventured outside to "feel" what a hurricane is like. After all, Brady lived in Fargo, N.D., for six years and knew how strong winter winds during a blizzard can be.
"But this was 60-to-70-mile-per-hour winds - constant - and it would gust to 100!" Brady says. "So, you walk out there and it was intense - all the time. Trees would be bent over and they would never come back up.
"In the apartment, you heard intense wind and howling. You could kind of feel pressure on the windows. I never felt like the windows were going to break, but the wind was coming straight at them."
Around DJ's apartment, trees and power lines fell and transformers sparked, but they didn't experience any flooding.
By daylight, the winds had died to about 30 mph.
"In that area, there wasn't the devastation, just a lot of inconveniences," Brady confirms.
They tried to survey the damage in East Windsor, but wherever they went, they ran into a downed tree or power line. They did make it to DJ's office six miles away in Princeton Junction. But getting there was an adventure.
"New Jersey drivers are terrible. Everybody rubs up against each other with no worries. Now, imagine the number of drivers out there and no signal lights. Everybody's just flying down these roads," he recalls. "We were driving around telephone poles that were bent over into the road. You'd be driving at 40 mph and see a pole and have to slow down, get in another lane and go around it."
Fortunately, they reached DJ's office, which had power. They charged their phones, but didn't have any Internet or cable access. And cell phone reception was horrible because towers were down and those that weren't were overwhelmed with calls.
Because his apartment had no power, they decided to hunker down in DJ's office at the opera house.
"Since he's in an opera company, it has props. So we went over and got beds and blankets and slept on the floor of his office complex because we had electricity and heat," Brady says, noting that they stayed in DJ's office complex most of four days before deciding to stay with parents of DJ's girlfriend in Pennsylvania.
He added that the last time a hurricane struck much further south of DJ's home, DJ wound up without power for four days. They knew with this more direct hit, it would be longer before power would be restored. In fact, DJ received power at his apartment one week after the hurricane.
Likewise, the opera company at which he works, which heavily relies on Internet access, didn't receive a connection until a week later.
Brady says it was an interesting experience.
"It wasn't like I felt like my life was threatened, but it was neat to be in it," he says.
"Once we got to DJ's girlfriend's parents place, I just wanted to watch the TV. It was then that the emotions hit. All we wanted to do was sit and watch the coverage, because we recognized all the places they were showing."Windom natives Brady Haugen and his brother, Dustin or "DJ," can now say they know the power of a hurricane. Brady arrived in the New York/New Jersey area two days before the hurricane's arrival. His reasons were several-fold: first, he was doing design work in that area; secondly, he was picking up a car he had purchased there; and third, he was visiting his brother in East Windsor, N.J., which is 40 miles north of Philadelphia and about six miles south of where DJ operates an opera house. Although he believed that the hurricane's path wouldn't make a direct hit on the area where he would be staying, he also reasoned that it might be interesting to see what a hurricane is like.
"But I never realized the intensity of it," says Brady, who stopped by the Citizen recently to share his experiences.
DJ's apartment is about 50 miles straight west and just south of where the hurricane hit the Atlantic coast. While East Windsor didn't feel the brunt of the hurricane as it crashed on shore, the city still had plenty of damage from fallen or uprooted trees and downed power lines.
Brady says that the scramble at stores prior to the hurricane was similar to Windomites preparing for an impending blizzard - except multiplied more than a hundred-fold because of the greater number of people. The Haugens also stocked up on milk and bread, just in case, but also were still taking the storm somewhat casually.
Because the Haugens were farther inland, they remained in DJ's home as the hurricane reached East Windsor.
"We still had power in his apartment and were watching all the stuff that was happening. Then we started to get power glitches. That was at midnight or 1 o'clock," Brady recalls. "At that time there had been constant 50 mile per hour winds for like three or four days.
"Then, just before the power went out, we heard that it did hit land and we were like, 'This is probably the worst it's going to get, because once it hits land it will die pretty quickly,'  " he reasoned.
Wrong!
Despite warnings to stay inside, Brady and DJ ventured outside to "feel" what a hurricane is like. After all, Brady lived in Fargo, N.D., for six years and knew how strong winter winds during a blizzard can be.
"But this was 60-to-70-mile-per-hour winds - constant - and it would gust to 100!" Brady says. "So, you walk out there and it was intense - all the time. Trees would be bent over and they would never come back up.
"In the apartment, you heard intense wind and howling. You could kind of feel pressure on the windows. I never felt like the windows were going to break, but the wind was coming straight at them."
Around DJ's apartment, trees and power lines fell and transformers sparked, but they didn't experience any flooding.
By daylight, the winds had died to about 30 mph.
"In that area, there wasn't the devastation, just a lot of inconveniences," Brady confirms.
They tried to survey the damage in East Windsor, but wherever they went, they ran into a downed tree or power line. They did make it to DJ's office six miles away in Princeton Junction. But getting there was an adventure.
"New Jersey drivers are terrible. Everybody rubs up against each other with no worries. Now, imagine the number of drivers out there and no signal lights. Everybody's just flying down these roads," he recalls. "We were driving around telephone poles that were bent over into the road. You'd be driving at 40 mph and see a pole and have to slow down, get in another lane and go around it."
Fortunately, they reached DJ's office, which had power. They charged their phones, but didn't have any Internet or cable access. And cell phone reception was horrible because towers were down and those that weren't were overwhelmed with calls.
Because his apartment had no power, they decided to hunker down in DJ's office at the opera house.
"Since he's in an opera company, it has props. So we went over and got beds and blankets and slept on the floor of his office complex because we had electricity and heat," Brady says, noting that they stayed in DJ's office complex most of four days before deciding to stay with parents of DJ's girlfriend in Pennsylvania.
He added that the last time a hurricane struck much further south of DJ's home, DJ wound up without power for four days. They knew with this more direct hit, it would be longer before power would be restored. In fact, DJ received power at his apartment one week after the hurricane.
Likewise, the opera company at which he works, which heavily relies on Internet access, didn't receive a connection until a week later.
Brady says it was an interesting experience.
"It wasn't like I felt like my life was threatened, but it was neat to be in it," he says.
"Once we got to DJ's girlfriend's parents place, I just wanted to watch the TV. It was then that the emotions hit. All we wanted to do was sit and watch the coverage, because we recognized all the places they were showing."








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