New Jersey rarely has a devastating hurricane. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve had our share of Nor’easters, tropical storms, blizzards, blackouts, heat waves and even an earthquake or two. However, next to Hurricane Sandy, which caused billions in property damage, and took out power for more than 2.5 million people, those incidents seem to pale in comparison. (My power was just restored this morning at 5:19 am.) Although the entire east coast was affected, New Jersey took the hardest hit.
During this time, I wanted to write—maybe a scene or a chapter if I was really adventurous. But I couldn’t. My only thoughts–during the first 12 to 24 hours of the storm–were of my daughters, who were in their homes without electricity, my sister and dad (who live 60 miles away) and my friends and colleagues. I thought about the strength of the 80 mph winds as they beat against my front awning, my roof and if my rooms would start to flood.
My fur baby, Poe and I braved the storms when it was time to go out for his walk. My head against the wind, I clutched him to my chest and carried him to his favorite spot. And as I did so, I didn’t care how foolish I looked. I just prayed that we both would make it back inside before I was knocked over by the wind.
Two of my daughters made it to my house during the storm. Deep down, I knew they would find their way to “Moms.” I heard from my other daughter and knew she and my grandson were safe in their house.
Without power, our lives were simple—not that I would want to live like this all the time—but we managed. We ate (thank goodness I had a gas stove and running water), slept and weathered the storm together. I’d charged my appliances (DVD player, iPad, Nook) beforehand, so for a couple of days, we watched movies. By candlelight, we played cards and told funny stories.
Disasters or crisis moments always bring out the good and bad. During my four days without power I saw quite a bit of both. To coin a popular Clint Eastwood movie, during Hurricane Sandy, I saw “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
First responders: Fire department, police department, EMT’s, nurses, doctors and utilities working around the clock to restore a sense of normal as quickly as humanly possible. Utility companies from Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, and even as far as Canada came to help restore power to our state.
News team braving the elements to report up to the minute facts on the storm.
Neighbors helping neighbors by sharing their generators so that a few others could have power.
Pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreen opening their doors to allow people to charge dead cell phones.
New Jersey’s largest utility PSE&G handing out free ice and water to residents.
NJ Governor Christie’s call to evacuate low-lying areas that would definitely get the brunt of Sandy’s wrath.
At intersections without traffic lights, people (for the most part) were courteous and alternating as they drove through to allow others to pass.
The mayor of the largest city in New Jersey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker inviting his neighbors in to charge their cell phones. (He had power.)
Price gouging by local markets and gas stations. Before the storm, gas prices were between $3.35 and $3.50, after the hurricane: $4.45, $5, and even $7.
The roads without traffic lights and people who weren’t so courteous. Bumper to bumper traffic.
The Mayor of Atlantic City ignoring the Governor’s warning to evacuate and telling residents it’s safe to stay in their homes.
Mass Transit stopped dead in its tracks, no buses, no trains, no subways.
Looting and stealing generators off front lawns, and gasoline from parked cars.
People shoving and fighting to get gas. Law enforcement being called in to keep the peace.
The devastation of Seaside Heights, its beaches and the roller coaster and rides we all rode on as children destroyed.
Atlantic City residents climbing onto their roofs to avoid the rising ocean waters and to seek help.
Parts of the famous Atlantic City boardwalk ripped to shreds by the tide and winds.
A death toll of more than 40 people along the east coast as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Yes, it could have been worse. But those 40 who lost their lives, were someone’s loved ones.
New York, our neighbor, had its share of woes as well. The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, as well as the PATH train systems that join our two states were flooded, and unusable. Lower Manhattan had significant loss in power as well.
Through all the good, bad and ugly, there’s one thing about New Jerseyans (and the east coast for that matter)–we’re resilient. We will bounce back.
I’m happy to be back and blogging. For how long, I’m not sure. They’re predicting another storm next week. But we’ll be ready. We’ve had a lot of practice.