On October 22, my husband emailed me a link to an article on AccuWeather.com about a tropical storm forming in the Caribbean that looked like it would trek north. It appeared to be heading our way, but maybe not; the cone of uncertainty was a little wobbly. There was talk of snow. Perhaps another white Halloween, like we had the year before. Perhaps, at worst, it would be another Irene. Probably not.
By midweek, the storm was growing into a hurricane and would continue to move north. Word spread about a cold front moving from the midwest, and a developing nor'easter from the south, all of which would get wrapped into Sandy as she neared the mid-Atlantic coast. With every report, warnings were intensifying. How bad was this thing going to be? People living in New Jersey, New York and surrounding areas were doing what they could to get themselves ready: to stock up with supplies, board-up windows, get gas. We prepared as best as we could.
On October 29, Sandy pounded into NJ. Her strength would rival stories about the Perfect Storm, which ironically took place almost 21 years before, to the day. We have lived through a lot, but nothing like this - not in recent memory.
The storm took place over 2 weeks ago, but I can still hear that screaming wind - that 75+ MPH banshee wail that was so loud, we never heard the tall trees snap in half in our back yard, our chimney cap blow off to land two houses down, the full tree that uprooted and fell against a neighbor's house. I can still imagine how I closed my eyes and braced every time that wind pushed with all its might against our little house, rattling windows and creaking walls. Just after 10 pm, after lights flickered and faded earlier, everything went dark. The whole town was out. Lights flared in yellow, blue and green in the night as transformers continued to pop.
But we were lucky. We survived. Our house still stood with hardly any damage. We still had heat and hot water (thanks to gas and steam). Power was out for a week, but we managed. Others were not so lucky. Every day, we hear stories on the news about the worst hit areas. Loss of life. Loss of homes and all they contained. Loss of landmarks and summer retreats. Loss of transit infrastructure. This was our Katrina.
You may have seen the photos of Seaside Heights, NJ, and the famous boardwalk chewed and spit back into the ocean, or the devastation in Breezy Point, NY. These are only some of the coastal areas that were hit badly. For me, my heart sank when I saw photos of Manasquan Beach, NJ, where I've spent summer days for the last 15 years, and wondered if it would ever be the same again.
Anyone who has read my blog knows how much I love New Jersey, how proud I am to be from this scrappy little state. We may be down but don't ever count us out. You best believe we will come back. But so many people here, and New York, need help - and will probably need help for a long time.
I never ask for much from my readers, but I'm asking now - please be a hero to these people who lost everything. Whatever you can do is appreciated. Below are a few links that you can visit for more info:
American Red Cross
New York Cares
Occupy Sandy Recovery
Community Food Bank of NJ