New Jersey Strong Logo For Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy: Life In NJ And Beyond

Nobody knew the true damage that Hurricane (Superstorm) was going to do. Most of us were watching the storm approaching, and started stocking up on water and other supplies. Others decided to wait until the last minute to get the supplies they thought they would need. When Sandy hit, my partner and I stayed in our basement to ride out the storm. We don’t live at the shore, so we knew we didn’t have to worry about flooding damage. Though, we were concerned about power outages. We just didn’t know it was going to be this detrimental.

When Sandy came ashore, we didn’t get the full effects of it (wind potential) until about 7pm. As the wind picked up more and more, we decided to fill our bathtubs and sink full of water. When doing so, we noticed the water was turning brown. No worries, we had plenty of filtered and bottled water ready to go. As long as we had the water ready to flush the toilet.

We did have to make trips outside. We have 2 pups (Delilah and Ubi). Our only fear at the moment was if our 2 little ones were gonna go flying away in the wind like little kites. They seemed to have understood that they had to immediately do their business so we could run back inside. Even during the brief moments of being outside, we saw the sky light up with blown transformers and downed power lines. We finally lost power around 9:30pm. We didn’t do much for the next couple of days. We stayed inside “hunkered” down, as everyone recommended that we do. Lucky for us, we had gas. So, we could boil a pot of water to stay warm and have a chance to have hot food.

After a few days had passed, we had enough of not hot water, electricity, running out to the truck to barely charge our phones, and a sense of normalcy. We even had friends that decided to drive down from Manville to stay for a bit to come together in playing board games and break bread together. They were describing the scene on their journey down to us, and we were in disbelief. Now mind, we still haven’t really been away from our home too much. I did, however, get a chance to go outside to see what happened in the close vicinity:  Lots of downed trees, power lines and metal signs that looked like shrapnel. Just a huge mess. After 4 days of no power, we decided that it was enough. We needed hot showers and such, and decided to venture into Pennsylvania (as we live right by the border) to find a hotel room. No such luck. All the hotels were closed due to no power. Finally, our friends power came back on so we decided to venture to Manville.

What an eye opening experience that trip was. Our hearts broke as we tried to drive through the maze of downed and trees and power poles. We drove by countless gas stations were the lines were unbelievable. I gasped in awe as I saw there were 2 different lines: 1 the human line with people holding their gas cans (there were at least 100 people in every line) and the the other 1 for vehicles (where the traffic was backed up for over a mile to get in). There were no traffic lights. People had to be even more considerate of treating traffic lights like 4 way stop signs. On the way, I politely told my partner that I needed coffee. I threatened his life, so understood my need. Though, it wasn’t very helpful when gas stations are stores are closed because of no power. I was literally praying to the caffeine gods to come through. Lo and behold, a very small Starbucks was open. The parking lot was a mess to get in, but thankful we found a spot. The scene at Starbucks was even more surreal. People were huddled by the masses both inside and outside. When you went in the doors of Starbucks, you had to be careful not to step on anyone. You have to imagine that this place is the size of a shoe box, yet there were people seated on the floor, crammed at tables, and shoulder to shoulder seated at the coffee bar.  If there was a power outlet, it was being utilized, including the usage of power strips to extend energy to everyone. You could have heard a pin drop. No one was being rude. No one was saying , “Move over, you’re too close.” The employees at Starbucks wasn’t telling people to move. Instead, they worked around them…and they did so with a smile. Thank you Starbucks of Hillsborough. You are all such kind people in being there for many people who had nothing.

Upon arriving to our friend’s house, we got to watch TV and see the full destruction of Sandy. My soul cried as I heard the stories and watched the videos and pictures pop up on the screen. What we were experiencing inland was nothing what my fellow New Jerseyeans were experiencing around the shore, and what our fellow neighbors were experiencing in New York. The most devastating, to my heart, was reading a story online about a young mother who lost her 2 little ones (2 and 4 years old) to the rising water and strong waves. She realized the water from the ocean was coming in fast and strong. She tried to outrun the rushing water in her vehicle, but couldn’t. So, she grabbed her wee ones and tried to get out. It was too late. They had been washed away out of her arms and found 2 or 3 days later a few blocks away. I couldn’t imagine having to go through that experience of having to lose your little babies. These type of stories came pouring in. My heart sank with each story.

Then hope started being renewed. Hundred’s of utility worked from across the country came to our aid, and are still here. I know people are complaining about not having power, but EVERYONE is working as hard and as fast as they can.  What’s even more amazing is that these amazing utility workers that are not from our state are living in their trucks and sleeping in their buckets. There’s no room in any hotel room for them to stay warm and take hot showers. They are under our hospitality. I due urge people to continue opening your hearts and homes to not only our fellow neighbors, but to the utility workers taking time out of their lives and families to help us in our time of need. To those utility workers, I say THANK YOU! Even saying Thank You doesn’t seem to be enough. I wish there was a better phrase, but heart wants you to know how much it means to all of us.

Brick by brick. Plank by plank. Block by block. Street by street. We are slowly recovering. It will take some time, but we ARE NJ STRONG! We will move forward in the healing process, some people will take longer to heal. But to my fellow brothers and sisters of NJ and NYC, know that I love you. I am praying for your recovery. I am donating as many items that I can. My friends and I are working tirelessly to find other ways to help you all out. We have opened our homes and our hearts to you. We want you to know…I want you to know…that you matter. That your life means something. I know that you have lost loved ones. I know you have lost your homes. I know you have lost your livelihoods. I know you have lost your small businesses. We will help you rebuild in every way that we can. Continue opening your homes to everyone. God will bless you. To my friends that are working tirelessly to help out everyone, it means so much to me and to others. Thank you for rebuilding hope in what seems like a hopeless moment in life.

To my fellow brothers and sisters of NJ and NYC, please continue to show kindness. Remember that there are people suffering with great loss. They need you to lend a hand, a heart, a home, and an ear to listen. This is greater than all of us. We are showing our country what we are made of, and our country is showing what we are made: Love and Hope. This is a time where race, creed, religion, or level prosperity doesn’t matter. We are equal. A human race striving to move forward to heal, and we will heal…thanks to ALL of us.

In the time of need of encouragement, the song “A Canticle of Hope” came to my mind. It was a song sang by my choir college from Brewton Parker College (located in Mt. Vernon, GA). It still moves me, and I hope it plants a seed of love and hope into your hearts.

 Thank you for reading this. Do you have your own Hurricane Sandy story? Please share. Do you have a need for anything or know of anyone that needs anything, please share. We are in this together. One Love. One life. One God.

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