Devastation in the Land of My Childhood

I was planning to write something light and frothy today. I was going to tell you about all the shopping I did while in Europe, and show you some of my photos of shopping hotspots, things I bought, things I wanted to buy, if only my budget had allowed, and things that were way out of my price range. I actually started writing that post and who knows? Maybe some other time I’ll finish it.

But, today I am sad. My achy, breaky heart is tormented by what’s going on along the other side of the U.S., otherwise known as the east coast. Particularly, New York, my home, my birthplace. I could cry just for my city, alone. I could sob for Queens and all it has endured. I’m sure Long Island, where I spent my teen years, didn’t fare much better, though I don’t know for sure.  All that is going on right now is hard to fathom for those of us not there and for those of us who have never experienced anything like it. Let’s hope we never will.

For that Hurricane/Cyclone Sandy sure was a menace. She wreaked her havoc on everything she touched, and slammed all that was in her path. Like Queens, where 100 homes burned to the ground, just like that, and not a soul could do anything to stop it.

But then there’s the New Jersey shore. I think of the summers I spent there, in Atlantic City, and even once wrote about it in a post called, My Boardwalk Empire. For many years, Atlantic City was the vacation spot of my dreams. I still hold that place in high esteem and shudder at the pile of heap that it is now, after just a few hours of stormy mayhem.

How many times I skipped along the boardwalk, waving with a flick of the hand, to Mr. Peanut, as I whizzed by. Memories of buying a fist-load of saltwater taffy and breathing in the salty air mixed with the scent of Belgian waffles. All the sights and sounds of vacationers by the sea, echo through time, reminding us of that which was once there.

Yes, Atlantic City. This was the place to be. After the storm, when Governor Chris Christie surveyed the damage, he reflected how anyone his age, who’d spent time there, is devastated, knowing so much of the Jersey shore has been lost, and the coast, itself, will never be the same again. I can certainly relate, stricken with grief as I am. Heartbroken for the loss and the destruction suffered by so many.

Fires, floods, pummeling winds, power outages, and even snow. Sandy brought it all. What a terrifying combination, somehow reminding me of the Ten Plagues that the Lord brought on to Egypt–pestilence, frogs, boils, darkness, etc. There were casualties, too, but early preparation was key in helping to keep those numbers down.

Yet, all the damage in the world can’t stop the faith and belief in the goodness of people. Of people helping each other through simple acts of kindness.

Nor can it stop the will to go on. In the face of hardship, resilience is a powerful thing. People will walk miles, jump through hoops and bend over backwards for a ray of hope, and the promise that this, too, shall pass.

And, while the storm is over, the rebuilding begins, as insurmountable as it may seem. How long will it take? The folks in charge seem to think it’ll be mere days for the subway system to be up and running. I wish I were as optimistic. Patience is needed, something those of us raised there have in short supply. It’s going to be a long haul.  Luckily, folks there have grit and tenacity. They will survive, they will rebuild and they will be stronger for it.

For now, being so far, there’s not much I can do. I’ve been in touch with my friends and family and know they are safe. I’ve made my donation to the Red Cross. And, next spring, I plan to go back and visit. For I wish to see it again in all its brilliance. I need to see it again.

Life goes on, after all.

43 thoughts on “Devastation in the Land of My Childhood

  1. Having lived in NY for some time, I do know that the people are resilient and that they are committed to rebuilding, but as you said, it will definitely take time and patience. I pray that in their waiting, they also learn to rely more on each other and build a better, stronger NYC where its people can create additional memories. I am hopeful that their collectiveness will be a microcosm of the unity that is needed across the country in light of POTUS Obama’s re-election last night.

  2. Ah, Monica, what a caring, generous heart you have! Yes, those poor folks along the East Coast have really been through it, haven’t they? I truly feel their pain, for I lived along the Miss. Gulf Coast during a couple of hurricanes and know first-hand how much devastation they bring. The power outages (when temperatures are 90 degrees), the spoilage of food, the lines for gas and ice, the frustration of trying to live under Third World conditions — all simply awful. Do go back and visit, then report on how much things have improved. For you’re right, the human spirit IS resilient, thankfully so!

    • Debbie, I think the storm touched us all. I really believe in the sentiment that is so prevalent among Americans. When push comes to shove, we’re all in this together. When a crisis happens in one region, the rest of us open our wallets to help. It’s fitting and right. My daughter graduates this spring and she’s been wanting to go back for a visit. So, that’s the plan!

  3. It’s heart wrenching to watch. Yesterday watching the news was difficult for me, the cameos of those who’ve lost everything gave me pause. We tell ourselves, it’s just a house, we have our life, which on a rational level it is true, but a house that has contained a family for years, is a family member. I encourage all to make even the smallest donation, whatever is manageable, to the Red Cross.

    • Brenda, I so agree. It is very heart wrenching. Whatever we can spare, even if it’s $5, the Red Cross can use the help, as the number of people needing assistance is overwhelming. Those of us who live along a coast know, how easily it could have happened to us, whether hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, the best we can do is be there for each other at times like these.

  4. As I stayed and watched the the weather hit, I though of our nation and our people. I thought of how with each horrifying act, be it natural or unnatural disaster we come together to rebuild. We, the people of this nation set aside differences and reach across the chasms we have dug to help our neighbors. I thought, what a nation what a people; what a bunch of idiots we are sometimes.

    My heart mother use to say to me, I am stubborn to a fault it is why when God wanted my attention rather than a gentle tap he threw bricks. Now, not being a of her religious bent generally laughed at this. But I wonder, do you think this is a brick? As horrifying as this is, could it be a brick?

    I am so sorry for the loss of life that Sandy brought. Some of the stories are heartbreaking and I don’t think we are done yet. The devastation is only beginning to be counted.

    • Valentine, I like your mother’s saying. Makes sense. But in this case, I’d say it’s a ton of bricks. It’s been horrible and the damage seems to stretch through several states. Sigh.

  5. Monica,

    One of our human sisters lives in New York City and told us over the phone how devastating the damage was in her area and New Jersey. It is just terrible. We can’t understand why Sandy was so mean.

    Bella and DiDi

  6. Monica, I don’t even have the words. It’s been just devastating to watch. I have family who still have no electricity and friends who have just got theirs back. I can’t imagine the heartbreak of those who have lost their homes. The suffering is devastating. I am glad your family and friends are safe. New York is a strong city and they always come together. They will rise again. Hugs.

    • I know, MM. It’s going to take a long time to get back to the way they were before the storm. And, they’re predicting another storm next week. Fingers crossed that it’s not a bad one…

  7. Monica, I am so sorry! Sandy’s devastation is of gargantuan proportions. I cannot believe the images or the short videos I have witnessed of her passing. My heart goes out to all those who have lost their lives and homes. Hurricanes are terrifying. I still remember living in the Caribbean and having to live through hurricane season year after year. Hurricane George left us without electricity for a month! It was horrible. I pray that your beloved New York will soon be restored to its former glory. I also pray for all those families that are suffering in the aftermath of the storm. Blessings, my friend.

    • Bella, A lot of people survived the storm okay, but so many more seem to be having so much trouble–getting gas, water, food, the essentials. The infrastructure has collapsed and the NYC mayor says the NY marathon is still on! That is absolutely crazy!

      I don’t even know how they’ll vote, which is probably the last thing on their mind anyway. Hay mija, this is so bad, it’s frightening.

  8. Monica,
    my heart breaks watching this from my tv screen. Horrible.
    Sending you much love. Xxx

  9. Must be especially tough for you when these areas are so special to your childhood. The Red Cross is a great organization to donate to. I never worry about where my money is going and if it going to the right place.

    • Renee, I’m sad, yes. I cried tonight, true. But it’s not tough for me. It’s tough for all of the people living through this right now, with no power, no water, no gasoline, no home. They have it tough. For me, don’t worry. What I’m going through is nothing in comparison.

  10. Hi Monica, my blog today is about surviving Sandy. We live about an hour inland and fortunately, other than losing power, suffered no damage. I also practically grew up in Atlantic City – my grandparents lived there so visits were quite frequent. I know that they will rebuild and I have no doubt that when the first hint of the summer sun rises above the horizon, the Jersey shore will be back, good as new!

  11. I have close friends in New Jersey and Virginia and I’m hoping to hear from them today. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the lives that were lost and homes destroyed.

    • Shary, I hope you’ve heard from your friends by now. I heard on our local news that the best way to reach them is via texting, which takes up less electricity (since access to power seems to be an issue). So keep texting. Good luck!

  12. My family all live on Long Island except for me in Seattle. My plan to visit this weekend has been stopped due to the storm. Thankfully everyone I know is safe and except for the power outage and some trees down faired well. Neighbors are helping neighbors clear the debris and the people of NY and NJ as well as the businesses deserve lots of credit for their generosity. The Northeast is often portrayed as uncaring and cold but that is so far from the truth. As we saw with 9/11 they will recover and show the world what they are made of with their goodness and strength. I will miss my great nephew’s confirmation Saturday but my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this devastating storm…Thanks Monica for putting into words what this place means to all of us who grew up there and vacationed on these shores…

    • The Northeast if far from uncaring and cold. They’re hardy people, they’ve seen worse before, and they look out for each other. I loved growing up there. Moved out to Long Island when I was 11. Can’t think of a better place to grow up. I hope you can get out there soon.

  13. Hi Monica. Indeed it is a tragedy we’re only beginning to recognize the magnitude of. So much lost; so many homes and lives. We are lucky, only a loss of power for us at this point. And the school closings. We don’t know when either power or school will be back in session, but to be safe, and have loved ones safe is a gift.

    I can’t get over the footage I’ve seen of other parts of the state (NJ) and hearing about lower Manhattan and Queens. Right now we’re staying with friends who have power. (Which is why I’m reading blogs again!)

  14. It is hard since my power is out, i am missing so much coverage. And feel out of what is going on. Especially since is takes some time organizing kids and school and meals with no power. My power is on at work and i have been slammed with actual work and a bit of blogging, but I try to watch some videos here and there. It is so sad.

  15. I have family, who lives in Bronx, New Jersey and Connecticut, they all affected but everyone of them are telling me how lucky they are, because other people have it worse. Terrible, terrible tragedy!

  16. I’ve seen some of the images associated with Sandy and it’s been painful to watch. People will have to start from scratch. For the lives lost, my blessings go to their families. It may take some time for those affected to get on their feet again but people will pull together to make it happen.

    • It is painful, Totsy. Extremely painful. Sometimes it feels like Hurricane Katrina all over again, when you see people being rescued in boats. But at least this time, the government is being a lot more responsive.

  17. Terrible. Can’t like the message but you did pause and pay tribute to the spirit of the people with compassion. Very appropriate message for all of us, reminding us of our neighbors hit hard who need our help now to rebuild.

    • I know, Georgette. I think the best thing we can do is start pressuring our congressmen and women to address climate change and the need to change the way we operate. Reinforce our infrastructure so that this doesn’t keep happening.

    • Thoughtsy, I don’t know how we’re going to get through this. What’s happening there is going to be soon affecting us all in some way. I am very concerned about climate change. I’ve known about it for a while, but with all the talk, I really think it’s becoming a matter of life and death to address it. We’ll see what comes of this.

  18. It’s so sad, Monica. When I saw Queens burning, I immediately thought of you–the only one I know from that part of New York. This is a lovely reflection on what’s happened and all that has been lost. Glad to know your friends and family are safe.

  19. Monica

    Watching the events on the Eastern United States from the comfort of my home this side of the Atlantic was painful.

    Unless you experience devastation you can only wonder what the poor people are going through when in some cases they see what they have worked hard for all their lives destroyed in a heart beat.

    Hopefully I never experience the misery and heartbreak they are going through, but my thoughts are with them and my heart goes out to them.

    Prompted by your comment I have made a donation to the American Red Cross, it’s the least I can do.

    • Robert, Thank you so much for making a donation to the American Red Cross. As I was watching the news today, I realized that we are just beginning to understand the depth and gravity of the situation. So many states affected, so many people, more casualties are being discovered. Today, in Staten Island, two little boys, brothers, were found, ages 2 and 4. They’d been ripped from their mothers arms during the storm. The tragedy is overwhelming.

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