Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, NJ. This street was underwater where the ocean and river met and became one. This small town just about gone now.
During the first 2 weeks after the catastrophe called Sandy began, you are still in a shell-shocked state of disbelief. Going for almost 2 weeks without internet access or television is a blessing and a curse during a disaster. A blessing because you are so focused on the here and now without being bombarded with extra images of the chaos going on around you. The curse of the situation is the flip side of not knowing about the chaos around you, because you need the images and stories to know the tale of the neighborhoods in your area.
Information was very hard to come by. Until you are without power, you have no idea how much you rely on those things connected to it. We didn’t know that FEMA was giving out food and water at the racetrack until 8 days after Sandy hit. We did not know because there was no communication and everything we knew was from word of mouth. There was no telephone service for us until the power came back on and the cell service was very spotty and bad at best. Also, there is no way to be fully prepared for the aftermath of something so catastrophic. No matter what you plan for, it isn’t enough, especially after the 2nd or 3rd day without power. A generator is a must but in the end, it still doesn’t replace the convenience of actual power.
Going to the food store, just to grab something for a quick meal was an interesting and difficult feat. Wegmans was one of the only stores, along with Shoprite that happened to re-open right away. At Shoprite, Cam was able to get a freshly cooked/roasted chicken for our dinner that night and a cooked/roasted turkey breast for our lunch. We were able to go to Wegmans and see that they had fresh breads, hot coffee and meat in the meat section. We were able to get the few supplies we needed, thankfully.
What struck me in the food stores was the similarity of all the people shopping. We all were in survival mode, just shocked about what had just happened. It was very quiet in the store over all. You heard some people talk amongst themselves about what they needed, some were talking about the damage they sustained. Their tones were very hushed. Many people were walking around just completely shell-shocked and dazed. Some even just wandered around, not gathering anything. They were just existing while trying to think of what they should buy if anything at all, because how can they cook or store their new food?
It is odd to be out shopping and not find everything you need at one store and maybe have to find 3 or 4 stores open to find what you are looking for. Some places have meat, while others have nothing in their cold sections. Some stores were still boarded up, some were running off of their generators just to run the registers and emergency lights.
This picture above was where Cam and I “met” 12 years ago. It was Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright.
Honestly, to do anything here is very difficult. Many businesses here at the beach are severely damaged. Our bank branch is still not open yet. The post office in Oceanport is closed indefinitely due to flood damage. Half our area was underwater and even the smallest amount of water has caused a world of damage.
How do I feel, you wonder?
It’s hard to say because I am staying with my parents, who have been wonderful and life savers. I am fortunate to have a warm home to stay at. I am fortunate because my dad and Cam can do a lot of the work on the house themselves. I don’t know what I’d do without them and their generosity during this time. I am so thankful to them!! Many people are displaced, homeless, scared, possibly cold and maybe underfed. I am lucky and I hold on to that.
But, back to examining my feelings….
I am distressed not to be in my own home. Our second car, which my brother loaned us, broke down. Not sure when we will be able to fix it. It, I believe, is last on our very long list of must-do. I rely now on my mom to cart myself and kids around and then on my hubby when he isn’t working on the house or at work. Nicholas goes to school and comes home by car, the bus doesn’t come here. I am angry that a storm of this magnitude came here and screwed up not only my home and routine, but our surroundings as well. I am quite saddened to learn about all of the destruction in the area I grew up, and am now raising my boys.
I am often on the verge of tears during the day and at night but do my best to choke them back. I do not have the time by myself to let it out and just cry for myself, family and all the people struggling around me. My family may not have it the worst with our damage, but we don’t have minimal damage either. There is substantial damage to our first floor. You wouldn’t believe the gutting that is taking place… because of 8″ of water.
My kitchen, as of November 12, 2012. Want to come for tea? 😉
Now, I think of Christmas and cannot even entertain it. The thought kills me. This wasn’t my vision at all. I have two little boys, one 7 and one who is 2 and a half. I can’t put up my big tree, I can’t go and do Christmas shopping. Sure, my mom would take me (haha, I sound like I’m 15!) but money is an issue. All our extra money needs to go toward the fixing of my home. I can’t have an influx of toys here at my parents’ house. There just is no room for it. It’s a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom ranch all small rooms, great for my parents, but not for 6 people at one time. It’s sad for me to look at them with Christmas/Santa thoughts. I don’t even want to go there. Don’t feel like doing the Christmas project I had planned with my boys before the disaster happened.
What do I do? I slap a smile on my face and tell everyone that it’s okay, we are fine, it could have been worse for us, it’s not a big deal…. I say all those things because I know people around me lost everything. I minimize my hurt, my sorrow, my frustration. I do my best to hide it because over all, I am a very positive person. I step beside those feelings because I know there is a family just like mine, struggling in unimaginable pain over the loss of all their property. Maybe I shouldn’t do this, but I do. I do it probably because I’ve had people tell me how lucky I am, how people ARE worse off and that insurance will cover it. Those comments always make me feel guilty for my loss and plight. Well, until you walk in the shoes of someone who has lost something, big or small, due to a flood like this, you can’t judge. Trust me, this is no cakewalk. This sucks beyond belief. This is a huge mess, this is a stress, a loss and an unexpected expense. Everyone has to deal with their pain. It’s either now or it may be sometime later. It may not happen for me until I’m back in my house where I may have a few moments alone where I can cry my eyes out and try to move on. To say goodbye to your house & belongings not knowing what you will find when you return is probably one of the most stressful things you can ever encounter. This is not in your control, you are not in charge… Except for the fact of heeding the warnings of the officials, busting your ass to move your belongings to either a second story (if you have one) or trying to get as much stuff off of the floor. Seeing a truck roll up in front of your house with a few guys hop out and go door to door telling you to evacuate is heartbreaking. You know it will be bad, especially when more of them are in your neighborhood than the last go around with evacuation.
I am feeling a little bit better. The repair to my house is progressing. As of yesterday, our ductwork has been repaired and we have heat again in the house. Next step is to get the floor insulated as well as our walls. Then it’s sheet rock, floors, paint, new cabinets, countertop and mouldings. I also think we need a new front door and we need repair to the back of our roof. We lost a lot of the back roof so it will need to be looked at to see if we will need a new roof instead. That is unfortunately not covered by the flood insurance and the deductible for homeowners is too much. So that would have to be an out-of-pocket expense. The damage done to my house and this area is not a long weekend project, it will take months and maybe even years in some cases to restore what has happened to the shoreline communities.
I haven’t processed everything yet. More and more of my first floor is being gutted, there is almost nothing left of what I remember it looking like on October 28. Everything concerning the interior first floor of my home is gone. My crawl space is gutted. My neighborhood is like a ghost town. The work in this area will take a long time to get done for many. Not much here is the way I remember it just a few weeks ago. The beach pictures I took of the boys about a month ago have much different meaning to me now. The beach will not look the same here for a very long time. So much of it is gone.
My boys, before the storm…
I’m sure I’ll have more to say again in a few days… I know this blog is for my beloved S&B but I need an outlet. I appreciate all the support, outpouring of love and am humbled by all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.