In the past two weeks, I have seen and thought a number of things I never would have imagined. I mean, growing up in New Jersey and spending a decent amount of time down the shore, I intellectually knew that every so often, there is a hurricane or nor'easter that has the potential to wipe out large swathes of the Jersey shore. My great-grandmother had a house on the beach in North Wildwood that was wiped out in the nor'easter that hit in 1962. My mom remembers it well, as she spent a lot of time there summers with her siblings and cousins. The house was shifted around on its foundation and one wall was torn off, like a dollhouse. The rebuilding and recovery that followed that storm did not work out in my great-grandmother's favor, as the property was seized by eminent domain, she was not given fair market value and it was decreed that nothing would ever be built on that site. The statement should have been...nothing will be built on the site until we are offered the right dollar amount, then we'll let the highest bidder build. Because that's what happened. No bitterness, and from everything I have heard, my great-grandma took it in stride. After a storm like that, there is much to be grateful for. I understand that much better now...I am exceedingly grateful that my family and friends who were hit by "Superstorm Sandy" are all physically unharmed. Many lost power and suffered property damage, but on the whole, we have been very fortunate. Even those who cannot get to their homes have family and friends who are more than happy to open homes to welcome them until access or alternatives are available.
I have seen many photos of damage to New Jersey caused by previous storms of a lifetime, but never imagined I would be looking at the reality happening in front of me. I love the rides on the boardwalks in Seaside and Wildwood and there aren't any words to describe how it feels to see a familiar roller coaster sitting in the ocean with waves washing over it. (Happily, Wildwood was not impacted the way that Seaside unfortunately is).
Gas rationing is a reality here. Again, something that I heard stories about from the last time it happened here ...in the 1970s. Seeing gas tankers on the road a few days after the storm brought a sense of relief that was surprising, after days of seeing lines several miles long at the gas stations that were open. Yesterday I saw no fewer than 40 power trucks from various far flung states in my brief commute and felt a second wave of that same relief. Many have come from far and wide to help get the power back on as we faced some serious cold and a second storm that brought snow to the area. Thanks to them for traveling far and working in all kinds of crazy weather to help so many strangers!!
Finally, I never thought the aftermath of a storm would be tougher to weather than the superstorm itself. Dealing with all of the challenges and the unknown has been much harder than riding out the actual storm. The storm came, it caused damage, and it ended. Getting back to normal hasn't really happened yet. Just because power came back on didn't mean it would stay on, and getting the damage fixed won't happen overnight. Electric service is not something I will be taking for granted anytime soon. Nor is cable internet - a modern convenience that really does make a difference in terms of how connected we feel to the rest of the world. Even relatively minor damage will probably still be with us until spring at the very least. It has been hard on my daughter, which I am struggling with too. She keeps asking if there is another storm coming. She clearly understands that this had a big impact and is concerned, but she is not quite three and I'm not ready for this to be something for her to fear. Her everyday life has been shaken up, even the little things like going out to play in the backyard and going to daycare to play with her friends.
I know this reads more like a journal entry than a regular blog post, but I don't have a journal and this seemed like a good place to get my thoughts out. I have heard first hand so many accounts of personal devastation due to the storm that I grow ever more thankful for what I have, and for the people in our lives. Many firefighters have come from our area as well as from out of state to support the fire companies in the hardest hit areas. Thank you for your service, and please stay safe!