Since my town falls lower on the necessary utility triage, we have just had power restored last night after 9 days. Areas further west than me will be even longer. Suburban NJ was crushed under a massive number of broken trees, telephone poles, damaged substations, etc. We are fortunate enough to have a generator, which powers our heat and hot water. (As I write this, the snow is starting to come down heavily, and many trees still have leaves. If the snow sticks, more trees (or big boughs) will fall.)
My house was very lucky – no flooding, no fallen trees on our house, car, etc. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who suffered so much loss in this storm. The pictures on TV, as well as some scenes in my neighborhood, are hard to fathom. At least power is coming back to shore and suburban communities, and NYC.
Compared to the shore, Staten Island, lower Manhattan, Hoboken, Jersey City, my town suffered so much less– primarily a loss of power. The ripple effects of such a devastating storm were an eye-opener.
- Our grocery stores closed for several days. Almost all fresh and frozen meats and produce had to be trashed. Walking through a store with empty shelves is surreal, like images of communist Russia. It reminded me of life in the third world, and the deprivation they live with every day. I walk through the store surveying what is available: in the first few days: no chicken, no fish, no cheese, no milk – fresh ground beef? I’ll take it. Even now, nine days later, the supplies are better but still low. Shelves have lots of empty space.
- The gas lines are still long – my local station had about 40 odd-numbered license plate cars lined up this morning.
- NJ Transit trains are not running from our area ‘until further notice.’ The town has charted buses to transport people into NYC.
- Starbucks is still full of a diverse group of people, with at least one thing in common – laptops. Working, charging, studying – every chair occupied, every table shared.
So today I am grateful. Grateful for the heat, hot water, a working stove, upright walls, food to feed my family. I am grateful for friends. (I am really, really grateful to the utility workers! I talked to one team that came all the way from Oregon.)
I pray for those still suffering losses and trying to find a way back to a normal life. Lord, help them, heal them.
The strength of the community has been comforting:
- When our pastor asked for more food donations, the parish brought 8 times the usual amount.
- When the lacrosse program identified relatives of a local family that lived on the shore and lost everything, they ‘adopted’ them – the kids will come to school here, especially welcomed by local children, members of the lacrosse community are donating everything from shoes to sofas.
- Our school is sending supplies to Staten Island.
- Many, many families have taken in other families.
- In one neighborhood, so many trees fell, blocking families driveways, and sometimes damaging or destroying the house, a ‘posse’ of residents armed with chainsaws went house to house checking on families and removing fallen trees.
I am grateful for my community.
So many people have said to me that even though this was devastating for so many, the storm has also strengthened our bonds to one another.
Lord, help us remember that we need one another, especially now, but always. In the wake of this terrible storm and also this terribly divisive election, let us come together to live in love.
Thank you for your presence and the gifts that you have given us. Let us continue to appreciate them as we do today.