All I can do is watch. Watch from afar, watch the news and video streams. Watch bridges I’ve driven on many times meet the ocean and witness beaches made of lifetimes of memories become nonexistent. In this current moment I am sitting in my well lit, well heated, well stocked with food graduate school apartment, 900 miles away in a place I will never consider my home, while my real home, my true home, is in grips of uncertainty, fear, heartbreak, with a sense of prevail. And all I can do is watch.
Over the past couple of days I have heard things that have left me in disappointment with my fellow peers. Maybe these have been passing words created from a true unknowing and unawareness or maybe it’s just plain ignorance. Whichever the case, these comments, jokes, whatever you would call such remarks have brought me to write such a post. Below I offer you my perspective and maybe after, you will have a better understanding of what Sandy has really done…
- This is not a Katrina. This is not a Hugo. This was Sandy- The full impact and devastation of Katrina could only possibly be felt and understood by those who where there. The residents of destroyed Gulf Coast cities and a demolished New Orleans lost everything they owned. Everything. In some perspectives New Jersey is being looked at as a loss of beach homes, second homes, homes of the wealthy. The destruction and severity of this storm is being downgraded by comments such as these. Though true, many homes along the New Jersey coast line are that of second homes, and yes you can even say homes of those who fall in the upperclass, but between those vacations homes around those areas there are HOMES and LIVES of year round residents- those who call the NJ Shore HOME and not a VACATION. Livelihoods where built here, children group up here- the Shore is as home as any suburb or apartment anywhere else, the only difference was these Shore residents where blessed with the gift of the ocean in their grasps 24/7.In addition to these residents, stop and think of a place where you went to every year, or have the best memories of your life, or places that define your childhood- now imagine them gone. All of those places gone. All we have left now are those memories and we will rebuild a new and better Jersey Shore.
- This is not the same- I’ve heard Sandy compared to Hugo. Something people not from the Tri-State area need to understand that unlike the south where there is space and openness at the beaches, NJ, NY, LI, CT…we are a densely populated area. And yes I know with Hugo, Charleston & Myrtle Beach where hit bad, really bad. But in reality there is no comparison. Our beaches and shore cities are not the same. I’m not sitting here trying to lessen Hugo’s impact on the southern beach towns and cities, I am simply saying these where not the same storms and these are not the same states and cities.
- We are not a reality show– We are not guidos, we are not housewives in mansions, we are not out-of-control hair dressers, we are real people. Since the show Jersey Shore came out I have endured the jokes- which have been fine- but the jokes stop here. Do not tell me as I watch my fellow New Jersians paddle on air mattresses to get out of their houses in order to find food that God did this to Seaside Heights and the rest of NJ for ever filming such garbage…because God had to take the garbage out. Do not tell me at least our beaches will be cleaner now- you have never seen just how beautiful, pristine, and magically our beaches truly where and are. If you have jokes, keep them to yourselves and then think, for just a moment, if you where sitting in your apartment and you had to watch everyplace you know, and grew up making memories at underwater, and your neighbors and friends without power, water, and gas, all while there is 4 ft of water outside their front door, if you would want to hear jokes. This lack of sensitivity has been breaking my heart.
- It’s only the rich people- Individuals with an income that qualifies them to be labeled as upperclass are not the only people the live in NJ. Everyday people live here too- those of hard working, blue-collar, middle class people. Practically everyone has been left with no power, a few here and there have power, many which have opened their doors to those in need. In northern NJ you will find those people who have lost everything, those who are not the “rich people”, but those who cannot go back to their homes that they had to evacuate, those who’s lives will be ever changed by this storm. EVERYONE is affected by this storm…the storm didn’t just target the rich people with summer beach homes of NJ…every class, every race, everyone who has ever called this beautiful state their home is affected by this storm of a lifetime. The Shore is destroyed, but please there are people in other parts of this state who are in need and who have lost everything because of this storm.
My family doesn’t own their own beach house, our house sustained wind damage and slight water damage, but my parents are without and will be without power for who knows how much longer. We are the lucky ones, the blessed ones. But just because we didn’t lose all of our belonging doesn’t mean we aren’t right in it with everyone else. NJ (for the most part) DOES NOT HAVE POWER, people do NOT HAVE FOOD, Gas is running out, Jobs have been lost…
…we will rebuild, we will prevail, but in the meantime we shouldn’t have to be surviving through judgements, comments, jokes and insensitivity on top of the floods and devastation.
Above is the Mantoloking Bridge- the bridge I’ve driven over many times now meets the Atlantic.
Above is Chadwick Island where one of my best friend’s parents live (all year round) down the shore. For the past 11 years I have spent parts of my summer at their home, which they now may not be able to get back to for 5+ months.