EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - As the rest of the country watched news of the superstorm barreling down on the East Coast, some Eagle County residents were hunkered down in New York City and New Jersey experiencing the storm first-hand.
Scott Stoughton, co-owner of Stand Up Paddle Colorado in State Bridge, is living in Venice, Calif., this winter and watched the news last week of the storm's potential devastation as it neared his hometown on Long Beach Island, N.J.
Stoughton said he quickly got a flight home Saturday to go help his father prepare their house. He said he could feel the tension and anxiety all around the island, a barrier island located north of Atlantic City, when he arrived as people feared the worst.
The island was under a mandatory evacuation, which Stoughton said has happened in the past, but it was when he heard of mandatory evacuations on the mainland that he knew the storm was really serious. Stoughton and his father drove about an hour west to find a hotel and that's where they rode out the storm.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Stoughton still had no idea how the family home held up. He shared news photos on Facebook showing the general devastation of Long Beach Island and hoped his family's home, which he said is about 3-4 feet above sea level and sits about 8 feet high on stilts, wasn't too badly damaged.
"It's going to be close - whether it's flooded or not - my guess is that it is," Stoughton said.
Before he evacuated, he said water was already coming up over the docks and the bay was full of white caps. And because Stoughton said it's harder to predict tides and storm surge on the bayside, which is where his family's home is, they were trying to come up with their own models for determining how bad the flooding may have gotten.
"It's a little unnerving," Stoughton said about not knowing the status of the damage.
While Stoughton made a decision to travel to the storm, some other valley residents didn't plan to get stuck on the East Coast. Pollyanna Forster, owner of Eat + Drink in Edwards, Cathy Cohn of Synergy Fine Wines and former La Tour and Spago sommelier Vanessa Cinti, however, know how to make the best of a bad situation.
The women, who are on a trip together, posted on Facebook that power was out and their cell phones were dead or nearly dead, but that they were all doing fine. The women also appeared to have enjoyed some fine New York City restaurants in the days leading up to the storm.
Pat Peeples, owner of Peeples Ink Public Relations based in Vail, was practically beneath a collapsed crane dangling from a Manhattan sky scraper construction site. She posted a photo on Facebook Monday night: "It is 60 stories up. I am 45 stories below and half a block away. Pray the winds die down."
That crane was all over the New York local and national news Monday as it swayed in the wind from the top of the 80-story building. For Peeples, it was just outside her hotel window.
"Every building to the east side of it was evacuated, and we're just to the west side," Peeples said Tuesday evening. "I just talked to a policeman who said it weighed 90 tons - he said it would take out a whole block."
Peeples feels lucky that her biggest problem right now is finding a flight back to Colorado. Her hotel's power never even went out, and so what if she had to walk around for a couple of hours Tuesday to find an open restaurant for a rescheduled business lunch.
"My problems are insignificant compared to what's going on out there," Peeples said.
Peeples tried to get a flight out before the storm hit, on Sunday, but couldn't. She's been stranded in New York City in a blizzard before, though, and said "it's just one of those things."
"I feel very fortunate," Peeples said.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.