We were so close.
While 2011 made a lot of noise in its second half with both Tropical Storm Irene and what was dubbed "Snowtober"—the late-October snowstorm that buried this area—2012 had been a relatively quiet year here as far as natural disasters were concerned.
And, then came Sandy.
While several days still separate us from this weather event, some already are predicting it to be a big deal, going so far as to dub it "Frankenstorm."
Whether or not dire predictions play out, folks around here already are preparing for the worst.
"All of a sudden, people started coming in today," said Bob Sage, an employee at Morristown Lumber on Ridgedale Avenue. "Sales have been pretty aggressive."
The most popular items to jump off the shelves there, he said, include flashlights, sump pumps and generators. These come as small as 2,000 watts for $239 (enough to keep that sump pump you just bought from shutting down) and as big as the $1,300 XG8000, an 8,000-watt beast powerful enough to keep an entire house lit.
As forecasters' predictions got worse by Thursday, local governments began to get their ducks in a row.
"We have already started our storm preparation," said Timothy Quinn, Morris Township's business administrator. "All deptartment heads are making sure streams and brooks are checked and are making sure any debris is removed so we don't get any damming."
"It's important to have storm drains clear of debris because heavy rain will come either way," Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty said. He advised anyone in town that sees a stopped up stormwater drain to contact Town Hall.
An opt-in email service is available for those looking to get their emergency alert information from Morris Plains Borough Hall. In the Township, Quinn also said residents could call the Morris Township Municipal Building for information, as well as tune in to WDHA/WMTR—105.5FM/1250AM—throughout the event for taped public service announcements, as needed.
On the county level, Morris County's Director of its Office of Emergency Management, Jeff Paul advised all municipalities that they, too, had begun storm preparations.
"Although we still have a lot of uncertainty, at this time it appears highly unlikely that the storm will go out to sea," he wrote in the letter. "The likelihood of the storm affecting our area has increased significantly over the past 24 hours. We anticipate that the brunt of the storm will impact our area later Monday into Tuesday."
"We have been in contact with the management team at First Energy (Jersey Central Power and Light) and we will be in direct communication with them throughout this storm monitoring power outages as well as restoration issues," Paul wrote. "It is important that you communicate with your residents and business partners to insure that they report individual outages."
It felt like a different situation last year when, amidst the chaos and calamity of two major storms, many felt left in the dark—figuratively and literally.
A lot of blame was directed toward JCP&L, whose Ridgedale Avenue substation in Morristown was knocked out because massive flooding from the Whippany River during Irene put it under water. As residents waited for word on when their power would be back on, information coming through was sometimes spotty at best.
The utility has since added increased social media to its information services, as well as updating its outage map.
Ron Morano, public information coordinator for JCP&L, said flood gates were in the process of being installed at the substation and that other preparations were ongoing in anticipation of next week's storm.
"We've been preparing and tracking for several days," he said. "We're preparing for a worst case scenario."
It's a scenario that benefits at least one group.
"It's been very good for business," Sage said. "We're already ordering more stock."
"It may be nothing but it's better to be out in front," Dougherty said. "We're going to make sure everyone is on the same page."