Ever since I was little, I’ve had a bit of a weather phobia and I’ve never been sure why or where it came from. I always get so anxious and nervous when I hear about a storm coming my way and hype myself up, somehow finding a way to convince myself something really bad is going to happen. Luckily, my intuitions have never been right and as each storm passes, my anxiety fades, and life goes on. Last week, Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York- a storm that was especially worthy of my anxiety.
In the days leading up to Sandy, the media was in a frenzy stating things like “this will be the worst storm the East Coast has ever seen” & “lives will be lost and millions of dollars in damage will be done,” so naturally, I freaked out a bit. I received texts and calls from my family assuring me that the media was overreacting and that they just wanted people to watch the news, insisting I turn off the T.V. and unplug from the internet to avoid getting worked up. Since I’m stubborn and always need to know what’s going on around me, I continued to watch the news and read articles about Sandy, and started getting that gut feeling that this storm is the one that is going to prove my intuitions correct. I moved my car to high ground, stocked up on food and water, and checked out the scene along the river the day before Sandy even got close to the coast of New Jersey.
Neither Kc or I had work on Monday even though the storm hadn’t even hit yet- they were nervous about the commute home and didn’t want to put anyone in danger just in case it started getting bad while we were at work. We hung out at the bar downstairs a good part of the day with our neighbors- until about 6pm when it started getting really bad- the power went out, and trees started falling from the intense wind outside. The only bartender that was able to make it in that day was the one who lives below us/above the bar- so we all helped him kick everyone out & clean up the bar as best we could without power. We all headed upstairs together and ate dinner, drank some beers, and got to know each other. After a while, KC & I went back to our apartment and tried to go to sleep- but the wind was whipping so loudly, car alarms were going off left and right, and power outages were making fire alarms to go off which caused fire trucks and police car noises to make it hard to fall asleep. We eventually took some NyQuil and passed out- and the Hoboken we woke up to in the morning was very different than the one we fell asleep in.
That night, Hoboken experienced more flooding than anyone had ever seen before. They estimated about 3/4 of the town was “underwater” and many people couldn’t get out of their buildings. Any cars parked on the flooded streets were ruined, trees and power lines were down everywhere, and not one building in town had power. Anyone who had a basement apartment or even a first floor apartment in certain areas were completely underwater and everything inside was ruined. We didn’t have power but felt extremely lucky after walking around and seeing the devastation around town- our street wasn’t flooded, our apartment wasn’t flooded, and our cars were up high in a garage and not flooded. We spent the rest of the day cleaning the apt, playing games, trying to get cell service, and walking around town every so often to survey the damage.
We spent the next night at my Aunts house, where we were finally able to watch the news and see the damage that Sandy did to the Jersey Shore and New York. Kc & I watched for 3 hours in disbelief- we thought Hoboken was bad- parts of the Jersey Shore and Staten Island, Breezy Point Queens, and Long Beach Long Island looked like war zones. My dad and brother went down to Belmar on Wednesday to check on our families shore houses- which is where we got lucky again. Our families houses fared well in comparison to everyone around us. Lake Como proved to be a huge flooding problem and luckily our houses were just far enough away from it. Our homes weren’t structurally damaged, but our basements flooded and it was clear a lot of work had to be done. The beach front was completely destroyed by the winds and storm surge- when Sandy hit land, it also happened to be high tide… and a full moon which makes the tides more intense. I saw pictures but wasn’t actually effected emotionally by it until we went down there in person to help start the clean up efforts on Thursday. Kc, my two Aunts, I worked for a few hours to empty the basement of anything that got wet- which was everything. It was sad to have to throw away so many items- but it’s times like those that you realize things are just… things.
We all went back together as a family on Saturday to restore the shore. We did all we could to clean and fix anything that had been done to our properties and helped others as much as possible. It was good to see my mom and dad, my shore family, and my brothers and our friends who generously volunteered their time to help us- but it was a pretty sad day just because it finally began to hit home that a hurricane had destroyed our town. It was also a really good feeling to come together as a community and help each other, despite the circumstance.
I’d like to give a big shout out to my boyfriend Kc, who proves to me everyday that there is no better boy in the world. Not only did he stay sane after being with me for a week straight- but he didn’t complain ONCE about anything, think twice about going down to help in Belmar, or ever let me fall asleep without assuring me everything would be okay. We had so much fun during our 2 days without power- we played battleship, had drawing contests, and he even made me create a budget for myself because he knows I’ve been putting that off for quite a while. My mom never failed to answer my calls or texts and she always made sure we were safe. My aunts opened up their homes to Kc & I and made sure we were always comfortable and of course, well fed. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this storm was a blessing in disguise because it was very catastrophic for so many people- but it allowed me to once again step back and realize how lucky I am.
We got our power back in Hoboken on Sunday night after a long nomadic week, and it felt really good to get home. I went back to work on Monday morning and a sense of normalcy was finally restored. We have absolutely nothing to complain about in the grand scheme of things. It’s times like these you realize really how amazing your friends & family are and how good it feels to come together as a community & help each other out. Both Hoboken & Belmar will be better than ever soon enough, I’m sure of it.