November 11, 2012
We got power on thursday- it was such a surprise, I almost didn’t register what it was. Such a relief to start getting things back to normal. Laundry! Cleaning! Hair dryers! Refrigeration! Nice to have it all back. It also made it much easier to start gathering more things to donate. A friend of a friend had her house ruined in Staten Island- she was in the worst area. She had just moved there 5 weeks ago to start fresh. She lost everything except a few books and pictures she was able to gather a few days after. Luckily, she had evacuated, and her son was away at college, so both were safe. But she’d left just with an overnight bag- and now that’s almost all she has left.
We’d donated lots the day after the storm, but now I’m focusing on her- collecting bedding, dishes, silverware- trying to think of everything someone who’s starting over will need. She doesn’t have anywhere to put it yet, but hopefully she will soon. Thankfully, she still has her job. There are so many more like her- who lost everything. So awful.
I’m so touched by all the helping I’m seeing. Today we drove by a vacant Foodtown, which has been taken over by the Red Cross. They had piles and piles of donations, and people were collecting bags full of whatever they could use- clothes, shoes- and more. So many friends on Facebook are taking up collections and delivering supplies. There are occasional reports of looting, but for the most part- people are giving.
In some of the worst hit shore areas, people were beginning to get access to their homes to try to retrieve critical things- like passports, pictures, important records. There were busses and checkpoints- homeowners of one island community were allowed one hour only- they had to leave only with what they could carry in one suitcase on their lap. They had to leave their license with the police to go in, and come out only with what they could carry in one bag. Can you imagine having to make those kind of choices? That is, assuming, your house was intact enough to actually find anything- I guess there are a lot of levels of lucky here.
The NJ shore train is completely out of service- the tracks were badly damaged by debris and water. The ballasts washed away and there are areas of track that were dislodged. NJ Transit isn’t even predicting when the trains will be back in service. They’ve responded by adding lots and lots of busses. I normally take one from PNC Arts Center, and all week they had busses lined up with drivers from all over- I had one from Rhode Island, and another from Boston- they’d never driven into NYC before. They did great. The passengers helped them navigate the way in. Coming home is a bit more challenging-on friday, the line stretched outside the terminal and down almost an entire avenue block. But it’s impressive for the most part, how they’ve managed to provide alternate transportation for us.
It will be quite some time before we get back to normal.