Sorry I’ve been AWOL for a while. Things have been a wee bit hectic around here. It’s my busy season at work, which means a lot of travel. Last Saturday I left my home in New Jersey to fly to Chicago for a business trip. While I was winging my way westward, a sh!tstorm of galactical proportions was bearing down on my home.
Hurricane/Post-Tropical Storm/ Post-Tropical Cyclone/ Superstorm (whatever the heck we should call her?!?!?!) Sandy pretty much pummeled New Jersey and surrounding states. She left tremendous devastation in her wake as I watched helplessly from Chicago, in fear for the health and safety of family, friends and four-leggeds.
When I was finally able to get through to my husband I learned he and a good number of our neighbors were at our house waiting out the storm and having what he called a “Hurricane Party.” The next day, I called home to find out much of the neighborhood was at our house again, having a “No Power Party.” The next day was the same, except it was a “Power On Party.”
Don’t get me wrong. My husband was actually making sure everybody stayed fed, showered, in clean clothes and good spirits while everyone helped dig each other out. We were one of the few homes that had power, as many of the lines were downed by fallen trees. We live in an old neighborhood, one lined with many old and magnificent trees, a good number of which are now chunks of firewood that my husband his buddies chainsawed into bits.
My parents were in the process of selling the home I grew up in and moving to the beach home my grandparents had left them. Their home in central New Jersey has been without power for almost a week, and their shore house, located on one of New Jersey’s barrier islands, is currently several feet under water.
Many of the means of access to the island are gone (see Mantoloking Bridge) and the island is a war zone, with gas fires breaking out amongst the flooding. Officials say it may be a month before they allow non-emergency workers out to assess the situation.
My parents are staying with us for the moment, which, despite the sad reasons behind the temporary living arrangement, is quite nice. It’s giving us some good bonding time with my folks, and I hope it’s providing my parents some much needed support during a difficult time.
Throughout this time Sugar and Cookie have been safe and sound at their barn. They are on high ground, so no flooding, and the trees are far enough away from their fields that there was no damage and they were able to be turned out. The power has been out but thankfully there’s a generator. Bless her heart, my trainer has been in regular contact with me, which has alleviated much of the worry and helplessness I’ve been feeling. What makes things difficult now that roads are passable is that we are experiencing unbelievable gas shortages, so I haven’t been to the barn since my hurricane-delayed return home late Thursday night. It’s killing the kids and me not to go, but we can’t justify the gas expenditure during this time of rationing and shortages. We tell ourselves the girls are being well taken care of and that we’re tremendously lucky and leave it at that. So many of our friends and their horses are experiencing much greater hardships right now.
That’s the amazing thing I’ve taken from this experience. People are so giving and so resilient. We can experience tremendous difficulty, and yet still be willing to extend a helping hand to others. My family has been tremendously fortunate during this disaster; sadly others haven’t been as lucky. We are blessed to be able to offer our home as a place for friends to eat a hot meal, take a shower, sleep, or do laundry. Yet despite all the difficulty (and can you imagine our ancestors laughing at us as we call this difficult?!), I still see so many acts of kindness. I see young people offering their elders their place in one of the miles long gas lines. One of the restaurants I know is not charging patrons who are displaced or those who are without power. Can you believe that? I’m trying to witness these acts and remember them when I’m feeling badly done by.
I guess maybe that’s what they mean about silver linings? Being able to see the awful, but also the ability to see the good in the awful? My thoughts are with all of you who are currently dealing with your own difficulties as a result of Sandy and her aftermath.