There have been so many times where I have watched devastation on TV from some area and felt sad for those affected, but still felt "safe" in my life because I just never expected it to happen here. However, with Hurricane Sandy came the devastation that I have only seen in other places.
When the warnings started coming about the approaching hurricane, Chris and I decided that we were going to stay in our house because although we are close to the ocean, we are still about 5-6 miles away. The winds were predicted to be bad everywhere, so we didn't think evacuating was going to be necessary. we stocked up on necessary supplies and were prepared. However, before the actual storm hit, the initial storm surges of the ocean were pushing water and causing major flooding already. We are about 1,000 ft from the Manasquan river which feeds directly into the ocean. When we saw the flooding that was already taking place down the street earlier in the day on Sunday, we quickly decided it was going to be necessary to leave with concerns that with the actual hurricane would come flooding that we never could have anticipated for our area. We sit at a higher elevation than the actual river, however, we just didn't know what was to come.
|The restaurant at the entrance to our development on the Manasquan River.|
In a last minute decision, we quickly threw some things in a bag, grabbed the cottage cheese from the fridge (that in itself had me in a panic since it's one of the only things he eats) and headed up to our friends Jorie and Zach's house. Thankfully they took care of us through the brunt of the storm and it helped because they had a generator that #1 kept the cottage cheese cold and #2 allowed us to charge our phones to stay connected. We ended up having to stay for 2 nights because even when the brunt of the storm had passed, many roads were impassable and without power, felt no urgency to rush home.
After two nights, we headed back to the place we call home. Although the images we had been seeing through the storm were terrifying, the emotions did not truly kick in until we were home and saw how so many were affected around us. You know those memories that you hold so close to your heart of the places that you love so much? I'm sure you know them well but for me, those memories include going to a place I have loved my entire life. Trips to the beach for the summer, rides on the boardwalk, ice cream, watching the sun set on the bay, family, our wedding, babies on the beach, spending so many days with the kids on the beach, walks along the ocean, family parties, and the list goes on and on and on...There has been complete destruction of the places that have built so many happy memories for me.
|My siblings and I approximately 22 years ago...|
|Chris, Colin, Kailey and I this past summer...|
|Pictures on the beach in Bay Head (a very badly hit area) in 2007...|
|Our family summer 2011...|
I feel heartbroken and sad because there is so much loss. Friends, family, and students have lost their homes, many still don't have power, many are cleaning up their homes from serious flooding and some are sitting in shelters because they don't have anywhere else to go. I am beyond grateful that my family is safe and the extent of damage to our home is very minimal...
|The tree over our house being supported by the shed.|
|Another view of the tree and siding...|
|The shed that took the brunt of the force...THANKFULLY.|
But those that were not as lucky...
|Sand through the streets, minimal beach left...homes that have been ruined.|
|Seaside Heights boardwalk that has been ripped apart (the roller coaster sitting in the water was mine and my siblings favorite ride growing up)|
|The bridge I have taken to get to the beach that connects from my town too many times to count, now deemed unsafe with many homes that have simply disappeared in the path the ocean created to the bay.|
|Another view in Mantoloking...we have driven this road for many summers to and from the beach...|
|The road is just gone...|
|The part of our town on the ocean that has been destroyed by fires...|
However, as with any tragedy, a community will rally together to support those we love. I have spent days in tears over the destruction, but just as many tears have been shed in gratefulness for those that have offered to us their homes, showers, companionship, even when they themselves have suffered. I can't tell you how thankful I am for all of the notes, emails, and texts that we have received checking in on us to make sure we are safe and offering your prayers. Just today, I have shed tears over the guys in 7-11 who hooked up a generator and busted their butts to make sure the coffee was filled since no one had power and seeing the line of utility companies from Ohio who left their families to help us dig out and get back up and running again. I have seen so many stories of hope and support, those volunteering their time, providing food, making rescues, cleaning up, and so on...
And in any tragedy, we should all take our lead from the kids who are so innocent....I can't tell you how many times Colin has gone up to one of us, me especially when in tears, and patted me on the back to say "you okay?". They are the ones who keep smiling, even when cold or hungry or confused about what's going on.
I know that the residents of NJ and our beach communities will rally together in support of each other in an effort to reach out to those that have been displaced and suffered loss. We will follow the lead of those that have remained positive, even when they have lost everything.
I am so thankful that my family and friends are safe, that the extent of my "loss" was a shed, some siding, a tree and a refrigerator filled with food, but my heart goes out to all of those who have truly lost....