Two weeks have come and gone since Sandy blew into town. I worked with someone by that name a number of years ago and like this latest incarnation, I didn’t care much for either of them. As we attempt to get back to normal in my community and hundreds of others across the state, I have to take a moment to thank all of the people who worked so diligently to address the devastation caused by the storm.
To my mayor (Ken Short in Long Valley) and local elected officials in other towns (remember most of these folks are volunteers!), thank you for your dogged persistence in getting the lights back on. Taking a cue from a former president -- way to give ‘em hell. While we’re not at 100% yet, we’re getting close and I’m convinced that many of us would still be sitting in the dark if it hadn’t been for you.
To the police, fire, EMS, OEM, public works, Red Cross, National Guard, and so many other personnel who mobilized statewide to render assistance in the form of hot meals, shelter, transportation, gas, water, generators, blankets, and so much more, thank you simply isn’t enough. But please know that your dedication to putting others before yourself has not gone unnoticed.
Kudos as well as to my local radio station WRNJ (and stations throughout the New Jersey/New York listening area). You were our lifeline when the lights went out and telecommunications went down. While many of us relied on cell phones to keep in touch, your staff opened the airwaves to allow residents in my little corner of Northwestern New Jersey to not only get critical information, but keep in touch and know that we were all in this together.
To the staff at the local Exxon Station just up the street from my home, you never stopped smiling despite the long lines, frustrated motorists and bitter cold temperatures (no price gouging here). I so appreciate that I don’t have to pump my own gas and will never take what you do for granted.
I’m self-employed and work out of my home, so when there’s no electricity, phones or Internet access my livelihood is impacted. I must give a shout-out to my brother-in-law and his Washington (Warren County) law firm for allowing me to take over the conference room for the past week and mooch off his Wi-Fi. I know I wasn’t alone as the self-employed and telecommuters searched desperately for connectivity as evidenced by the packed parking lot at the local Panera’s (a scene played out in towns across the region).
A huge thanks (and hugs all around) to the thousands of linesmen, electricians and other tradesmen and women who streamed into New Jersey from states far and wide. We appreciate your willingness to leave your families to come work 16-hour or longer days in difficult conditions. We truly are a “United” States as exemplified by the outpouring of help from people all over the nation.
To all my friends and those I have yet to meet at the Jersey shore, please know that our hearts, like yours, are broken. While I live in the mountainous part of this amazing state and wouldn’t trade it for the world, I love every inch of this state and wept when I saw the impact of Sandy’s wrath. My family went through a devastating flood in Central Pennsylvania in 1972 and lost everything. I would be lying if I said that coming back was easy, but we did and are stronger for it. Keep the faith and know that better days are ahead.
And finally, for those of us who still have a roof over our heads, please do what you can to help those in need. Donate to the Red Cross or another charity working to aid our neighbors in New Jersey and New York, contribute to a local collection drive, assist with the clean-up, invite someone in who has no heat or electricity. Whatever you can do, do it. While I’ve never been a fan of the “Jersey strong” moniker because of the politics surrounding it, in this case I’ll make an exception.