Coming back from disaster
It was seven years ago when we woke up to see the devasting damage left by the wrath of SuperStorm Sandy. It was two days of rain, high winds and flooding. If you were lucky you were away from the Jersey Shore who got hit the worst with this storm. But the process of coming home to see how your house made out was just beginning.
Joe and I had just rented a house on the bay on Long Beach Island. We had only been in the rental for a month and a half when the storm hit. We left the morning before the worst was supposed to hit and the bay water was already spilling over the bulkhead. Our full-time home was in Bucks County, so we had a place to go. I had to go to work since I was in radio at the time. I spent two lovely nights in the radio station doing all day reports on traffic conditions and damage that we could see. I’m still not sure if social media was good or bad keeping us up to date on all the devastation moment to moment.
I worked in Princeton, New Jersey at the time and I remember when I finally was able to head home, I saw massive trees uprooted and lying on their side. Tree after tree. This was an enormous storm that caused havoc in many states. But it seemed that the worst was at the Jersey Shore. In the LBI area, there was up to 5 feet of water rushing into homes at one point leaving destruction in its wake.
The odd part, as is usually the case, is some parts of the island were virtually untouched while others were completely destroyed. I’ll never forget when we were finally able to go back to the island to collect our belongings from the rental house. It was about a month after the storm and part time residents had to wait longer to get on than full-timers. The house that we had rented had nearly 5 feet of water and was uninhabitable. We stayed in the upstairs portion of the house so we didn’t lose everything but the woman who owned the house lost everything. I’ll never forget the scene as we drove down the street and seeing a massive pile of furniture, mattresses and trash at the curb as people cleaned out their homes. It brought me to tears as this was the place I called home for a number of years and had a lot of friends who lost it all.
Now, seven years later the island is back to bustling. A lot of the old homes were knocked down and replaced with monster houses. The little shacks are gone for the most part as many were destroyed. Rebuild bigger and better seemed to be the motto. The particular neighborhood that we have now settled in was hit extremely hard as well. The house that we currently live in was built on four feet pilings, so it was always elevated. It sustained virtually no interior damage from the storm. My neighbors, however, were not so lucky. Most of them were part time owners so luckily, they didn’t have to find a place to live. But if they had, hopefully insurance was able to get you into a decent place.
After many battles with FEMA and insurance companies most people now say they are better off than before the storm hit. Homes were remodeled and raised to better flood standards. The federal government even kicked in money to help get your home in compliance with the new height requirements for homes in flood prone areas.
It’s been a long road and the path was far from easy but if you can see down the road realize that things will get better. It may even be better than where you started. There will clearly be a time when you will feel a great sense of loss and getting a run around. But in the end, you may have a fabulous result. That what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger…right?
Just know that there will be times of complete devastation in life (hopefully not to this extent) but you can come back stronger and better than ever. So take that Sandy! You didn’t break us. We are here to stay and couldn’t be happier.
It’s Hump day. Take a moment to think about a time when you felt like everything was falling apart. Think about where you are now. Remember that life goes in cycles just like everything else. There will be good times, there will be bad times but it’s all a part of the circle of life. Now, to make today your best day yet!
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