It’s been a week since Hurricane Sandy hit the shores of New Jersey and then carried on into New York. Only a week. For some it has probably felt like a lifetime. Those that were lucky lost their power for a few hours. The not so lucky ones are still without food, water, heat, their homes or worst of all, without a friend or family member.
Growing up only a quarter of a mile from the ocean in New Jersey, storms were common. Nor’easters blew in every winter. Locals would hunker down for the winter, the howling winds and roaring ocean actually became a sound of comfort. No one took an approaching storm seriously unless the fishermen were worried. When it came to hurricanes, most people stayed despite mandatory evacuations. They always stayed because ‘it was never that bad.’ This time was an unfortunate exception. Sandy left most of the coast of New Jersey ravaged. Quaint beach communities were left to devastation.
My hometown of Cape May, NJ was extremely fortunate to have dodged Sandy’s wrath. Minor flooding, beach erosion and some fallen trees were the worst of the storm for Cape May. However, up the road in Atlantic City, LBI, Seaside, Belmar, Mantoloking and further north houses were swept away and shore business left damaged. All of that could have happened to Cape May.
Over the weekend my friends and family along the NJ coast gathered together to volunteer. Whether it was working a donation center, driving goods an hour up the parkway to a shelter, shopping for necessities to donate or even walking door to door to talk to those who are suffering. The immediate response from all these communities displayed the people of New Jersey’s compassion, resilience and determination.
There is so much to repair and rebuild. Some of the towns won’t even be accessible or liveable for another 6 to 8 months. It’s been a long week but it’s going to be an even longer off-season for those whose businesses were left in shambles, livelihoods teetering in vulnerability.
The volunteering I’ve heard about at home makes me so proud to be from New Jersey. This past week I wanted to be in Cape May to help those in need but business is continuing as usual up here in Boston. So I am doing my part by reaching out to my readers. I am hoping others across the US will help out. It only takes a few seconds to send money through a variety of online relief funds. I ask you to forgo your Starbucks coffee tomorrow or skip that second post-work drink and instead donate $5 (or more!) to one of these charities. This is cliche but true- your donation, no matter how small, will make a difference.