I could tell you that we lived without power for seven days.
I could tell you that when we lost use of our furnace due to
the power outage, it got cold in my house.
I could tell you that we wore the same clothes over and over
again until they smelled because we had didn’t have a working washing machine
I could tell you that I ran a tiny car-powered generator for
the first seventy two hours, in an attempt to save our refrigerated food. But that due to the gas shortage on the
Jersey Shore, I had to let most of the food spoil, except for a few essentials
that fit into a cooler.
I could tell you that I walked three blocks to a National
Guard command station set up at the end of our development, to get ice for that
cooler, which I wheeled home in a baby stroller, since I did not want to waste
gas to drive there.
I could tell you that I walked a mile to the police station
to charge my cell phone, kids in tow, who complained about the walking and
about the cold.
I could tell you that I screamed at my daughter when she
broke one of our flashlights, because I knew if I went to the store to try to
replace that flashlight, I would be unable to find a flashlight, and
furthermore, I did not want to waste the remaining gas in my car to try to find
I could tell you about waiting two hours to get gas for my
car, only to have the pumps freeze when I was next in line.
I could tell you about how tired to the bone I felt by the
end of each day, managing three cold, scared, stir crazy kids, as a single mom.
But in the end, all of these are temporary and minor
inconveniences, compared to this.
This is the borough of Union Beach New Jersey, with a
population of 6,200, which sits on the Raritan Bay waterfront. Virtually every house in town sustained
significant damage from Hurricane Sandy, if it was not completely
I would sleep in the cold again, for seven days, ten days,
one hundred days, if it would allow for the residents of Union Beach to have
their town back.
I would leave all of my food out on the counter on purpose and
let it spoil, if it would rebuild even one of those houses for someone who is
I would break every flashlight in my house and let my cell
phone battery die and wait on another two hour gas line to recover the photos,
the love letters, the school art projects, that were destroyed by the tide that
rose as high as the second story windows and washed valuables out to sea.
Because even though I have my power and my internet back and
the use of my washing machine again, and life seems pretty “back to normal” in
my house, Union Beach will never be “back to normal,” or at least not for a very long time.
We can look at the tragedy of someone else or somewhere else
and gawk from afar, and say a silent prayer that we are thankful it was not us.
Or, we can take the opportunity to understand fully that
someone else’s tragedy really is our tragedy.
Those homes that were destroyed in Union Beach and in Sea
Bright and in Seaside Heights and in Rockaway were not someone else’s homes.
That was my home.
That was your home.
Because ultimately, we are all connected.
Make a pledge to help after your lights come back on.
Make a pledge to help after the media hype dies down.
Make a pledge to help long after everyone else has
Make a pledge to help beyond a case of canned goods or diapers
that you drop off at a shelter, to wipe your conscious clean, feeling relieved that
you have “done your part.”
Because “doing your part” is not one isolated act. “Doing your part” is a life’s mission.