Ah, to have a voice again…
Let me begin by saying this will probably be my longest post to date. I have quite a bit to say/vent. So, bring your reading glasses, coffee, & patience.
Sandy was much worse than anyone could’ve imagined or predicted. I’ll start with my own family’s story…
It began on the 29th & the weather rapidly progressed into hurricane/nor-easter hybrid status by nightfall. By 6PM she hit NJ & hit hard.
(Allow me deviate for just a moment.)
When I first created this blog, I had the intention of keeping my identity concealed, my location somewhat obscure, and any personal photos (of family or myself) away. However, to paint a clear picture, I will break one of my rules just this once. I’m living and was born and raised in the state of NJ in the US. Now, confirmed as the hardest hit area.
That night, we had prepared for what we thought would be a “bad storm” much like Irene the year before. Our governor told us to stock with food/supplies with enough for 3 days…
No one had any idea what a poor estimation that would be.
At around 7:30PM the winds outside became so brutally violent you could hear them. They were tossing things around and the neighborhood trees were taking a supreme beating.
My entire apartment building could not have expected what happened about 10 minutes later.
It started with a blue light show that was a severed power line outside my living room window. It whipped around & swayed like a snake, closer & closer to our window. As if that wasn’t scary enough, seconds later we began to literally hear the electrical currant. Fearing the worst, we listened to this disturbing buzzing noise that quickly turned into sparks.
Directly after that, straight down our hallway we moved our attention to the bedroom as the sound grew louder and moved over there. Then, there was a gigantic blue & purple explosion that we knew all too well was a blown transformer exploding. I cupped my hands over my mouth in shock & in fear of a huge electrical fire. The power abruptly cut out.
Little did we know this would be the start of a very long & trying battle. Not for only us, but everyone in our state.
The fire department is full of brave souls. They truly are. They came out in the midst of that storm & quickly removed that hazardous transformer & saved my entire building. Not to mention, they risked their own lives doing so. I’m sure they didn’t even bat an eyelash.
We couldn’t sleep that night but the storm blew over by morning. I went outside around 7AM, careful to avoid any downed power lines. I was curious to the damage. When my eyes adjusted, they were stunned at the extreme nature of the destruction. There were downed lines, mauled trees, leaves and twigs everywhere. A board that someone used to protect their window was hurled up into a tree across the street.
We soon started to realize the power would not be back on in hours, but days.
This may sound pathetic to some people in other regions that have experienced catastrophic storms. Need I remind you of what I stated earlier..I’m from NJ. We are not used to and have never encountered a storm of this capacity. Until now, this sort of thing just did not happen here.
In the beginning, it was estimated a whopping 1.7 million were without power. We were one of them. We nearly froze at night. Lit our way by candle and flashlight. Surviving off of peanuts, crackers, and soup. Obviously, anything left in our fridge spoiled.
Thankfully, we still had hot water. Some were and still are not so fortunate.
People were and are still fighting over food and gasoline in the streets. Tempers are rising and patience is understandably short. I’m hearing whispers of people stealing gas and generators, not from stores, but from each other.
Going through these struggles myself, I can tell you that the outside of NJ, the media and officials are sugar-coating. They’re making things seem better than they are.
A large number of my own family members are still without power.
I haven’t been able to buy milk (or any dairy product for that matter) for my son. Anything that needs to be refrigerated or frozen has been removed from the shelves of the few stores that are open.
Halloween was ruined for all children of our state. Schools are closed until all power is regained. Not a soul knows when that will be. Allow me to paint an even clearer picture…In the first 3 days, there were no working traffic lights. Creepy, right? Yet, people had to drive! Some that underestimated the storm (which was most of us) were running out of food.
There is a glimmer of hope, though. I try not to be one that shows just the negative end of the argument. Things are slowly..and I stress the word slowly, coming back on. Stores slowly opening..but having to close early due to a shortage of products.
One thing that is truly beautiful in the tangled mess that is this cleanup effort is people are grouping together. Neighbors are helping one another. Sharing food or a phone. (When our power was down, we relied on car-chargers.) My neighbor was here just a few days ago using my cell phone while our kids struggled to find normalcy together. They played with my son’s bowling set while us moms cried over split milk…literally! We sobbed over having to toss our spoiled food & pour sour milk down our sinks.
One thing to be stressed before we close is the poor, devastated Jersey Shore. No, not the stupid reality show that just got cancelled with the Italian-American stereotypes that set my people back 1,000 years. No. I mean the beautiful shore towns that I spent my summers in. We even had a summer home down there when I was a kid that we sold when I turned 13. Atlantic City, Long Beach Island, Asbury Park, Seaside Heights (just to name a few)…all washed away or severely damaged.
They can be rebuilt, but never replaced. I have so many fond memories from down there. Now, that’s all they are..just memories…