The Soul of New Jersey

Greetings from Post-Apocalyptic New Jersey.

Monday night’s dance with Sandy made for a very long and very stressful night.  The sound of the wind whipping at 80 miles per hour + the visual of the giant 100 year-old trees swaying and snapping around our house = family sleepover night in the basement.

This was Hurricane Camp Fordeville.

When we woke up the next morning, the fallout was intense and abundant.  Though the flooding was — thankfully —  not a big issue here, the winds and downed trees were.  Crushed cars and damaged homes are all around our town.

We are blessed that our house was unscathed and remained dry.  And, above all, our family is safe.

48 hours after the inevitable power failure, I’m sitting here typing to the deafening and constant hum of the generator.  A generator I’m beyond thankful to have.  A generator I’d consider among the best investments we’ve ever made.  This is our third extended power outage in 14 months — after the last two, and especially following a lengthy basement renovation, we decided not to mess around.

However, there is one thing that many of us with generators never really gave much thought to:  The generators need gasoline to run.  And gasoline can’t be pumped from stations with no electricity.  Over 2 million people in New Jersey have no power.

This is a bad, bad equation with no good outcome for now.

Eight hours.  That’s how long it took my neighbor, at two different stations, to finally get gas into his canisters and ours for the generators.  It got ugly.  Grown men were fighting over gas.  And it’s going to get worse.  Because people don’t do well when structure falls apart, control seems to slip through their fingers and chaos prevails.

School is canceled for the week.  Probably longer.  Halloween is off, too.  This has all kinds of effects on everyone.  I don’t need to tell you what too much time in the house does to young kids.  And, by extension, to their parents.  Yes, the uninterrupted family time is nice in many respects.  But exhausting in others.

So, yes, I am inconvenienced and annoyed and wanting to resume normal life.

But.  I am determined to keep my perspective in check.

I know I have it good.  I know I am lucky.

And, more than anything, I am heartbroken for the shoreline of my childhood.

You can talk about the Jersey Shore and how it has become a national punch line borne of bad reality TV over the years.  You can go ahead and laugh.  But that’s not its true identity.  The truth about the Jersey Shore is that it’s the soul of this state.

It’s the place where I went for day trips with my parents as a kid.

Where my parents, some years, rented a house near the ocean for a week of family vacation.

Where I went with my dear friend Jen many times in middle school and high school and after our prom.  Where we spent time on the boardwalk, went on all the rides, took pictures in photo booths and learned to play Skee Ball like any proud Jersey Girls would.  All while the sounds of Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi were never more than a stereo speaker away.

Where I spent one college summer living with my aunt and uncle, waitressing at the bar they owned and learning to carry a full tray of drinks over my head through a crowded dance floor.

Where P and I bought a little beach house after we got married as a getaway from our city apartment.

Where we brought our kids as babies and watched them topple in the sand and dip their toes in the ocean for the first time.  Where we walked the boardwalk as a family many times — often before dawn, strollers near the sand and coffee in hand — just to get fussy infants back to sleep.

 

 

 

 

So much of it is gone now.  Damaged beyond what my mind could have imagined.  Even though we were told of a near-certain collision course for the days leading up to its impact.

Those boardwalks are ripped up and tossed aside.  The rides have been swallowed up by the ocean.  We sold the beach house a few years ago, but I fear its fate wasn’t good, just having seen the images of the surrounding homes in the neighborhood.

For every beach house gone and every piece of that boardwalk shredded, there is someone like me who holds the Jersey Shore near and dear to her heart.  Who remembers it as a huge piece of her childhood.  Who prays for its recovery.  And who cries for the people who have to rebuild their lives.

And with the hum of the generator, I think of how lucky I am.

 

* * *

{While the Jersey Shore sustained much damage, there were many other communities affected by Sandy as well.  Please keep them in your thoughts and, if you’re able, consider  donating to the Red Cross to help those in need.}

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. MomofThree says:

    A bit of advice from a New Orleanian here: have your generator permanently installed and hooked up to a natural gas line. You can just flip a switch and power your house. Glad you made it through okay and sorry about your Jersey shore. We understand down here…

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks very much. The gas line generators are starting to pop up more in this area. It’s a big investment but, believe me, I’m thinking about it after this week.

  2. Teri says:

    I’m feeling your pain now, Kim. I grew up in Wildwood, then moved to Atlantic City, then lived for several years in Ocean City. I miss those days so much and I miss the beach and boardwalk. My heart breaks for those who lost everything and for those who are still in need of housing, heat, basic necessities. I no longer live at the shore but I’ve got nothing but amazing memories and I pray they can rebuild.

    Teri

  3. Kim, this is a beautiful post. My heart breaks for New Jersey, but, I applaud your lovely tribute and your grace and gratitude under immense personal pressure. I hope that your family is able to recover quickly. So happy you are safe.

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