BY SCOTT SCHULTE
Editor’s note: Scott Schulte was Clipper Sports Editor until 2010. He was also Viewmont High School wrestling coach. He left Utah about a year ago and has since returned to his hometown, which was hammered by Hurricane Sandy this week. The following is his personal account of the storm:
MILFORD, Conn. — I feel helpless. What can I do when five blocks of Brooklyn, N.Y. and parts of neighborhoods throughout Connecticut have burned to the ground?
Young men were dragged into the depths of the sea and remain missing. One was a former all-state wrestler from our local high school. Also in my neighborhood, a firefighter was killed. How can I console their families? There is no way to fix this problem.
As Hurricane Sandy battered our beloved coastal area, blue flashes of light could be seen outside our darkened coastal home.
I first thought the flashes I saw were lightning, but then the light gave greater view to the carnage happening around us. Trees crashing atop power lines were causing the wires to explode, dropping ever more people in the dark.
The reality of what was happening around us really didn’t hit me until my father said, “This is a bad one.”
He’s 74 years old.
My father, Linwood Schulte, grew up here in Milford, Conn as did I. My sons Taylor and Doug also lived part of their lives in our cottage in the Rivercliff section of town, a beautiful coastal community about 50 miles from New York City. I moved here this year, but Doug is still in Utah, completing his senior year at Viewmont High School.
Dad had been through all of the big storms, and we all went through the 1991 Perfect Storm together. This week and its great storm were different, though. As early as Sunday morning, the air pressure began to drop so quickly that I was popping my ears like I do when descending in an airplane.
Throughout Monday, with Sandy still hours from making landfall, the wind ripped through town and the waves battered the coast unlike anything I have seen in my 48 years. As day slipped behind the dark clouds, winds picked up and the ocean pounded its shores with a biblical vengeance. At midnight, the full moon gave extra strength to the high tide, a 12-foot storm surge and extra 10-foot waves. Our little town was quickly and continuously torn apart.
Dad and I remained in the dark, but safe.
Along the Milford beaches where many of our friends live, the massive waves violently tore homes apart and lifted others off their foundations. They were carried out into the water. Trees uprooted, snapped and lost limbs almost every second of the night, knocking out more and more lines and leaving people in fear and darkness.
With only an Internet hookup and cell phones as our connection to the outside world, we watched as New York City became Waterworld. Unprecented flooding covered LaGuardia Airport and the New York Stock Exchange and turned the roads we all take for granted into deep rivers. The New Jersey coast, another popular place to play, is gone beneath the waves.
Reality continues to set in on all of us back here. Slowly, the power will return, the messes will be cleaned and homes rebuilt. Everyone will move on and get life back to normal. It will, however, be a different normal. Nothing will ever be the same.