Natural disasters serve an important function: they force us to look at life another way. Whether you are directly impacted or watching the developments on TV or online, you will be moved, provoked, inconvenienced.
I live at 600 feet. Trees are the unwitting enemies during storms up here in the North Pole of NJ. Lakeside living is a desirable feature of living here for many of our neighbors, but during the storm, the trees and water became destructive elements, threatening our homes and lives.
So far, no one we know has been injured. One friend had a tree pierce the ceiling of her college student son’s bedroom (no one was in it or hurt). A smaller tree came down on our house but did no major damage to our new roof.
Living in such a heavily wooded area, power outages are common, so I had decided to install a whole home natural gas generator this summer. It was completed three weeks ago. 7:15 pm on the night of Sandy, the power went out and 10 seconds later, the generator came on. Awesome.
We continued to enjoy Internet service until 3 pm the next day. Having surveyed the neighborhood, I know where the disruption is. A huge tree a block away is poised on strands of lines: electric, cable and phone. Until the utilities get around to this location (and many others like it), services will continue to be interrupted.
I work for my town, and I went over to Borough Hall yesterday to attend to communications. I can do some things with my iPhone, but it’s cumbersome and slow.
All services are online at the municipal building. My TV channel never went down. I have had to kick start our online stream, but our facilities have not faltered. Kids are able to use my wireless network to do their homework. Our library, which usually offers WiFi, is offline, so I’m glad we can provide service for residents (up to 50).
Meanwhile, towns to the south have been wiped out. Our last home town in Little Ferry (whose famous traffic circle has always been prone to flood) is under water. The Hudson River-moored ferry/restaurant Binghamton in Edgewater, where my husband and I married 21 years ago, was torn to shreds. Friends on Long Island are living in shelters. The Jersey Shore has been obliterated.
So I realize we’ll be inconvenienced for a long interval to come. Eventually, our cars will need gas, but I’m hoping we can coast on our hybrid’s EV motor for a while. We’ve got food, water, heat and power with access to whatever else we need. I am so grateful. I made a contribution to the Red Cross. I’m inviting friends who’ve lost power over to enjoy a little “civilization.” I’m monitoring my mom’s situation at her group home (she has dementia and requires care). I have the luxury of connection during a period of severed connections.
As the full story of this incredible storm unfolds, I give thanks, I pray for the victims and I seek the clarity to figure out where my energies can best be directed.
If you’re reading this, I thank you for caring to, I hope you and your family are safe and warm. I encourage you to be patient and seek the paths where you might help those in distress following this epic disaster. The neighborhood has gotten a whole lot bigger. That’s perspective for you.