Monday, October 05, 2015

Unsolicited Advice to the Northeast in the Aftermath--Now Relevant to South Carolina's Flood Victims

It was suggested I re-post this for those of you struggling in the aftermath of the horrendous flooding in South Carolina. I can barely look at the news photos. Too gut wrenching, but I am thinking about you, and all you'll be dealing with going forward. This post was originally written to the Hurricane Sandy folks, who by the way, are still very much struggling in many areas. Although the Springsteen lyrics aren't geographically tied to you in South Carolina, the sentiments below them do. Please know that those of us here in New Orleans understand, and we hope that our experience can help you as you make your way through this tragic time.

“Tonight I'm gonna take that ride
Across the river to the jersey side
Take my baby to the carnival
And I'll take her on all the rides

`cause down the shore everything's all right”
Song by Tom Waits
Heard in the head of a Jersey Girl in the voice of
Bruce Springsteen,  Jersey Girl

No. It's not all right and you probably can't get across the river right now anyway.

My high school years in Bergen County are peppered with memories not of classrooms and despotic Vice Principals, but of subway rides into Manhattan, afternoon rides on the Staten Island Ferry (cheap fun for a truant), and hustling rides ten to a car down the Garden State Parkway to Asbury Park and Seaside Heights, which were never called by name, only referred to as “The Shore.” I picked splinters out of my feet after walking the now destroyed boardwalk in barefeet like an idiot. I was kissed sweetly in the sand that has now buried cars and shifted houses off their foundations. I rode the rollercoaster that now sits in the Atlantic. At least I think that's the one I rode after being dared.

My last decade has been shaped by the Federal Flood, otherwise known as Hurricane Katrina. The landscape around me has changed since then in both good and bad ways. My interior landscape is forever changed by that experience.

I heard Seaside Heights' Mayor Bill Akers on CNN this morning. He said that when he hears what's going on in other areas his heart goes out to them. His voice broke when he said he was trying to keep emotion out of it. For now. I was on my dry couch in New Orleans in tears.

We here in New Orleans watched the NASA shots of Sandy headed your way. She was huge, well organized, aimed at you and we knew how that felt. She was perfect, as Katrina was, actually beautiful when viewed from the safety of a distant satellite lens. We saw the targets on your backs and understood, possibly as no other group of people can.

Initially there was some bitter grousing about our having had to defend our City's right to exist and be rebuilt, something you might not have to do. We weathered the nasty comments about our being idiots living below sea level, and even nastier comments about tax payer money being wasted on morons and ingrates and freeloaders. These comments were ubiquitous after Katrina, but we wouldn't wish what you're dealing with on anyone because we've been there.

We endured extreme heat, while you folks have to deal with unbelievable cold, as the power went out and stayed out. We are also a city in which some people don't have cars, so we understand the New Yorkers who are utterly stranded as the Subway tunnels have turned into something better navigated by gondolas than train cars. We know as we see aerial views of Asbury Park, Seaside Heights, Atlantic City, and all the coastal towns that what we're seeing in no way shows us the length and breadth and depth of the devastation. We know you aren't overstating it when you say it looks like a war zone. We understand the loss of everything you own. We know the tears you'll shed as your kids' yearbooks and baby pictures are gone forever. We understand your toughness, your determination to rebuild, your compassion for your neighbors and your statements about your family being fine and your losses were “only stuff.”

We get it.

Now for the unsolicited advice:

Expect unexpected consequences. One or more of your leaders will let you down. Right now the adrenalin is flowing and you're all in shock, as are your leaders, who really seem to be doing a great job. It's down the road when the issue becomes money and contractors and the actual rebuilding that you'll be let down by someone. Be prepared to deal with the anger.

Have patience. Your power will come on when it comes on, and all the ranting and raving in the world cannot change that, nor can you expect a timetable from your utility companies. Just two months ago we went through Isaac and the utility issues were exasperating. I say this to you as someone who sat on the porch waiting for bucket trucks, or at least information, in the aftermath of several hurricanes now. Don't waste your energy (no pun intended) calling them or expecting one of them to say Thursday at 9AM. It won't happen. Cuddle up and keep each other warm. Oh, and expect your utility rates to jump as the utility companies go to your local civic leaders and ask who's going to pay for all this repair. It will never come out of the utility company's profits, it will come out of your wallet. That I can guarantee.

Try not to slug your Insurance Adjuster. As I watched the storm coming in the other night, there was footage of a building in Chelsea. The entire facade had fallen down, and this was before Sandy's actual landfall. What I heard, in terms of reasons for the facade falling, was familiar: coulda been rain, coulda been shoddy workmanship, coulda been wind, coulda been anything: and so the parsing began. What happened here, and what will no doubt happen there, is that whatever you're covered for, it will be the OTHER reason that caused the damage. If you're covered for wind, it will be deemed water damage or vice versa. Don't count on your insurance carrier to be compassionate. They won't be. In fact you may find your rates hiked, your policy canceled, your payout to be a pittance that wouldn't even cover one month's car payment. Expect that coverage in your area will be curtailed with some companies refusing to write a policy at all. No amount of righteous outrage about the premiums you've paid for years will alter any of this. Your carrier will go on the news, make statements about wanting to help, tell you that you're in good hands, then send you a letter saying they're dropping you at the same time that they issue their quarterly report on profits. Expect it.

Advocate for your Area. Don't let the officials make all the decisions as the rebuilding process gets started. Get involved, start neighborhood associations, make yourself heard, fight for your little spot on this planet. If you don't, monied interests who view disaster as a profit making opportunity, will show up and barrel some ordinance through your City Council; you'll be really upset after the fact. Get in front of this. You've got a little time. First you have to clean up, but remember what I'm saying as the process moves forward. Without your voice, your advocacy, some things will be proposed and moved into your reality so fast your heads will swim, and they won't always be things you would like to have happen. Governor Christie said today that for a guy his age, the iconic parts of the Shore will never be the same. They're gone. He's right. Just don't let people, especially people who aren't from there, determine what will be put in place, no matter what city, town or borough you live in. Ask us about the “iconic” French Market some time when you get a chance, and that's just one little thing. Your sense of community is what will see you through. Without it you'll be steamrolled by developers with wads of cash and connections. Carpetbaggers don't just come to the South.

Allow yourself time to cry. And cry. Then cry some more. You'll be crying unexpectedly for a long time. Ask us. We still cry over the Flood seven years ago, and are crying as we see your devastation because those pictures dredge up visions burned into our souls that we manage not to notice on good days and can't escape on bad days. You'll find yourselves three years from now looking for something familiar, something you know you had, then get slugged in the solar plexus as you remember that it was in a box in your basement when Sandy slammed through. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of the little things that marked your journey through life. While they don't matter much in the overall scheme of things, they do matter to you, a great deal. Don't minimize their importance in your determination to stay strong. That last picture of your Dad will haunt you if you don't allow yourself to mourn it's simple paper loss.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, you'll need it. The mental health issues related to this will not show up in force for a couple of months. Some won't show themselves until well after the rebuilding has begun. You are in for months and months of stress, and being a hearty lot, you'll manage. You'll cope. Then you'll find yourselves as we did, with a group of friends, and every 15 minutes one or the other of you will burst into tears. Don't berate yourselves over this. Help the other guy through the sobbing until it's your turn and they'll help you and understand and won't call you a pussy.

Watch your elderly family members. They will quietly weather this, but many of them will internalize it. The deaths of elderly people after Katrina skyrocketed. I am not trying to scare you. I'm just telling you what we experienced and it was not something we expected. Many of us didn't notice that the old man down the street was struggling because everything he ever knew was gone, never to return. We didn't always notice when the old lady around the way gave up, and gave in to her broken heart. It was sobering and scary and we carried guilt for being so concerned about rebuilding that we missed signs. These are the things your leaders or the media won't necessarily tell you. We've lived it. We're hoping you can avoid some of it by knowing ahead of time.

Your little ones will be scared, deeply and for a long time. They'll need a lot of help and attention. Your usually mellow child might suddenly bolt under the bed at the sound of the wind. As scary as this was and is for you, for them it's as though a big malevolent foot stomped their sandcastle of security. They're too young to understand, too young to process some of it, too young sometimes to vocalize their fears, and they'll try to be strong for you as you are trying to be for them. Make sure that your schools have some kind of program in place to deal with the trauma. If they don't have one, demand it.

Retain your sense of humor. Gallows humor will get you through a lot of things. Of course, here in New Orleans, gallows humor is our stock in trade, but I know you've got a pretty good streak in you too. Use it. You'll need it and will find it very helpful as you dig out.

Accept what people give you. Don't let your pride get in the way. We learned that very quickly as packages with cash tucked into them came to us from friends and strangers all over the country. For some of you the cash will be important as your paychecks won't be coming for a while, if your job still exists. Our initial response was, yup, pride. We don't need that, we're fine, we thought. We learned humility fast and we learned to simply say thank you and accept the help. The folks who sent it wanted to help, really wanted to help. They didn't want to give to an organization, they wanted to help us hand to hand, and they knew that if we knew of a place or person nearby who needed the help they sent more than we did, which was often the case, that we'd make sure it got to those people. You will be touched and humbled by the generosity of people and that's something else you can lean on during this trying period.

Be prepared for assholes. There will be those who make outrageous assertions about your character or your home from behind a screen as they sit comfortably a thousand miles away. They will say it's God's wrath for having gay people among you. They will say you're idiots for living at sea level. They'll make all manner of racist comments. They'll say that rebuilding boardwalks and homes on the shore or the barrier islands is wasteful folly. They'll call you freeloaders, opportunists, and worse. For every bit of great kindness you receive, there will be an equal amount of venomous hatred. Ignore them if you can or defend if you must. Understand that idiots will come out of the woodwork as fast as the volunteers who show up to help you. They are hateful cowards. Say what you must to them, unless ignoring them is easier on your psyche.

As Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I am reminded of the first Thanksgiving after Katrina. A small group of us got together for dinner at one of the few open restaurants. (Power, by the way, still wasn't on in many areas of the city.) One of our number asked quietly if we'd mind if he read something. We all said no, of course we didn't mind. He had searched for days for this passage from “Ulysses” by Tennyson:

“Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Our hearts are with you, and our tears are tears of understanding and memory. I am in hopes that the writing of this will arm you for the battle ahead as what we learned has to have some positive use. I cannot accept that it was all for naught.


Blogger judy thorne said...

Beautiful. Sharing. Thank you.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Mark Folse said...

The Springsteen song I can't get out of my head is the one the NBC nightly news ran at the end of one of their broadcasts over a montage of the ruins of Sandy, the same song he sang to tens of thousands reduced to sobbing at Jazz Fest 2006: My City of Ruins.

When I could bring myself to watch the news the force fields went up. It is as if you have just had a minor stroke. The brain is empty, the body seems distant and alien, and the television a nightmare half remembered.

I only cried when I heard that song.

Come on, rise up.

You can do it. Your boots are on the pile in front of the house so you will somehow have to managed to lift yourself up by sheer will, above every gospel word Sam has written above. Some may not be as bad. The government starting running dump trucks of money into Manhattan after 9-11 to repair utilities and such. Maybe you'll be lucky, and your utility bill won't double. Maybe you have stronger elected officials, who won't stand for a property-and-casualty insurance bill larger than the principle on your mortgage. I hope so.

Come on, rise up.

We felt so abandoned after the Federal Flood a deceased friend adopted the term Sinn Fein, not a reference to modern Irish politics but to the origins of the party name. It translates as Ourselves Alone.

Sinn Fein, baby. But you are not alone. The people of the hurricane coast, who have done all this before in 2005 and again and again before this, stand at your shoulders like the ghosts of every soldier buried in a foreign land. The people of the south are a prayerful people, and right now millions of hands are clasped, a hundred thousand Saints' candles burning, uncounted joss sticks lit to the Merciful Ones. Trucks are loaded. Checks are written. If you finally figure out what we've known down here since Camille in '69 the mayor of Staten Island has figured out, and you will to, but one way or another help will come. It will come not from the insurance racketers. It will come unsought from church groups. It will come in trucks from points unknown filled with cleaning supplies. It will come with all I see that remains of the America we were taught, and it will not come from the government. It will come from you neighbors. It will come up from the coast from those who stayed, from those who returned, by the heavenly intervention of the ghosts of the flood.

It will come.

"I pray Lord
with these hands
for the strength Lord
with these hands
for the faith Lord
with these hands

Come on rise up!
Come on rise up!"

Rise up

6:07 PM  
Blogger Rachel E. Holmen said...

Thank you. I never experienced Katrina or Sandy, but I was working at a nonprofit that tried to help after Katrina.

(One of the oddest things that happened was libraries in a huge area AROUND Nola were beseiged by people living in motor homes or their cars, asking the libraries to put in wifi or leave it on overnight, so they could reconnect with family, find jobs and housing. Libraries mostly stepped up to the challenge.)

Wonderful words; a sense of humor and a deep knowledge of pain. Again, thank you.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Angie Davis said...

Wow! Just wow! Sam--what you wrote is so beautiful. Eloquent. Precise. Articulate. I was just crying last night for myself because of a string of failed relationships. Starting with my second marriage that ended in December 2011. Then more and more heartache as I explored the bewildering world of dating...

Then in the midst of my self-absorption, my mind went to the people who are victims of Sandy, who are now are being HIT with a nor'easter. No power. Freezing temperatures. I've been through a hurricane in south Florida where our entire lanai fell into the pool and a few terra cota roof tiles blew off, but that's mild compared to the destruction of Nola-ians and Jersey-ians and Staten Islanders. Been through a nor'easter while living in Boston and Albany. Experienced no power for seven days compliments of Hurricane Wilma. But it wasn't freezing temperatures. As The Weather Channel so cleverly observed, hurricanes are not usually associated with freezing temperatures. NO! You don't say! We are usually shedding our clothes in 90 plus degrees temperatures when a hurricane cuts off the power, not layering on five layers of wool and goose down to keep warm. That is, if people can even find their coats besides the ones on their backs amidst the ruins.

Then my cries of self-pity turned into loud sobs, bawling and wailing. I got down on my knees and prayed for you who are suffering out in the cold, in the aftermath of Sandy. You're not forgotten by us in the other parts of the country, for there but by the grace of God, go I.

P.S. Mark Folse--if you're reading this, beautiful words, also.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live on the Jersey Shore, and a lot of my childhood memories are at Seaside. I still can't believe the devastation. I can't believe its all gone. And my children. My children are very upset that we will not be making anymore memories there...atleast not for a long time. Thank you for your words, advice, and warnings. I will from now on carry them with me.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sage advice, thoughtful and well written. Thank you.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, I have no words for this but my heart knows every word you said.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Lord David said...

Thank you for these healing words.
And for this Truth & Strength.

If nothing else, the Federal Flood taught me that I can, & will, survive just about anything.

And that it's okay, as I do right now, to let my tears fall like rain.

Eastern Shore, my heart is with you.
And I know you will be back.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Thank you all for your kind words. These folks will also live through the Sandy-fatigue and the news cycle starting to ignore what's not better while focusing on uplifting stories, which is important but leaves what's undone unseen. We watched that happen here. How many times were we asked after the storm, "How's New Orleans doing?" I wrote back then that I had two choices: I could go off on a rant about what had NOT been fixed, how many people had NOT come home, how many would never come home, etc. or I could just say, "We're doing better" which to my mind was a kind of disloyalty to New Orleans and the truth.

I learned that the disloyal answer was easiest as many of the people asking didn't really want to know.

The folks on the East Coast are going to experience this same thing big time. Most of what they see on TV is Manhattan, not Staten Island, not Long Island, not the Jersey Shore unless Snooki happens across their screens, and Manhattan will overall look just fine, like the Quarter did when used as a backdrop by all those reporters in their "follow up" reports.

But we know. We KNOW, and that's why we have to connect with them however we can because I truly believe our experience will be of use to them as they go forward.

Again, thanks you guys, for commenting here. Most comments have come via email as apparently this is getting passed along via email, much like my original pieces written after K were. Seems fitting in a way. Nevertheless I appreciate your comments more than you know, as I know your struggles with watching all this are like mine and it's nice not to feel alone in the, as Mark Folse calls it, Permanent Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart. I live on the "Jersey Shore"... or at the beach as the locals call it. All of my childhood memories are of the towns and sights that the nation witnessed wash away when Hurricane Sandy came to town. The rest of you watched as Sandy devastated our community, while we sat in the dark hoping and praying for it to end. And when it did, and we finally were able to watch the footage and see our towns up-ended, well I can only compare it as you do in your article as getting slugged in the solar plexus. The worst hit parts of NJ are the beach towns, and these areas are a community of people who roll with the tides, find peace in a sunset over the ocean's horizon, and never complain over a little sand in places it shouldn't be. We will "restore the Shore", there is no doubt in my mind. And as we struggle to come to terms with what has happened, I know that there is comfort in knowing there are others (even thousands of miles away) that will provide comfort, resources, and advice. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I am humbled, my beach town friend. Thank you for your comment.

Meanwhile, here's the first manifestation: Anger, politicians, utility companies. Some areas here were without power for months. I truly hope you don't have to deal with that kind of timeline.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank u for that I lost everything and needed to read this !! It made me cry but made me have hope God bless u

2:06 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Thank You. I too am from the Jersey Shore or like one of your other readers said "the beach". Your writing has brought me to tears.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Robin R. - Director of Franchise Operations, Vintners Circle said...

Thank you for writing this and so eloquently saying what was in my head and heart. Four years ago, almost to the day of Sandy, our house burned down. My family experienced many of the things you discussed here, but we were the only ones in the situation at the time.

Living in NW New Jersey, we were not as severely damaged as those near the coast, but some of our neighbors are now in the boat we were in 4 yrs ago.

We are here to support all of you the best we can. We understand and will not judge. Let us smack the assholes for you, let us defend you, let us be your crutch. Please just remember once you are on the other side to please do it for someone else. Sadly there will always be someone else in need. Right noe it is ok if it is you.

Love u Jersey!

4:12 PM  
Blogger NJStrong said...

Thank you for all of your kind words and honesty....things that in the back of our mind we know are true but don't necessarily want to believe. It has been so heartwarming to see all of the utility workers from down south who have lived through this what is still surreal to us situation. Knowing they made it through and are here to help us as some of us helped you in your time of need is so reassuring.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up at the beach my whole life. When I was starting college in 2005 was when Katrina hit. I have spent every break I could and have continued to do ( the last time we were there was July 2012) going to New Orleans trying to help gut and rebuild and make a difference. I was naive. I saw the devastation in nola and tried to help, but I always held the thought that we needed to travel there and help, but feel happy that nothing like that could ever happen to us. We were up north. We don't get hurricanes and when we do they're a little water and were fine. It's a hard lesson learned. We found out we were not indestructible as we once thought. And now, you're right. My town is a war zone and its heart breaking.

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those were beautiful words of advice and compassion. Thank you very much for taking the time to open your heart to the victims of Sandy. It is very much appreciated at the Jersey shore.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. Your empathy means so much.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to let you know that it was a power company from Shreveport, LA that restored the power to my 77-year-old Mom's home. Thank you, NOLA, for understanding and sending us support in the way of the Power Company and Sam's blog!
Sam and all of the commenters here - Thank you for the words of support that all of the Jersey Shore and NYC needs to hear now.
I get it. I can appreciate it. And I know we have a long road to recovery. I have been brought to tears any times this week at the generosity from across the nation!
But thank you to all who have come to our aid! We appreciate it immensely!

From Brick NJ

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Summer said...

Thank you for your guidance. You're like a big older brother watching out for us. It will never be forgotten. :) Sum

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. So beautiful, realistic, empathetic. And, yes, we are from Jersey and we will survive this and come out stronger!!! thank you!!!

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful sentiments. It put in to words what lots of people here in New Orleans have been thinking. Just an aside, "Jersey Girl" was written by Tom Waits

11:07 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

As a member of the media who has been covering this story for days on end, your words resonated in so many ways.

The anger and the letdowns have already begun, because here, thousands of residents are still unable to get into their homes because of the damage to the infrastructure on the barrier islands. We have hundreds of refugees housed in tents as temperatures have fallen below freezing. Rents are being jacked up as people scramble to find temporary housing. And the carpetbaggers and the thieves have already begun adding to the miseries of some.

As we continue to move forward here, I can tell you I will be trying to help tell those stories, as we are already. One thing about Jersey, we don't sugarcoat our feelings, especially when we're being wronged.

I thank you for sharing your advice and your thoughts and will be sharing them with as many people as I can, because I know they will help others.

God Bless.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you -Asbury Park, NJ

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all learn from others experiences and you are so wonderful to have done this. Many I know effected are students and friends of my children. I do hope everyone I know has the opportunity to read this and I do believe, that something good always comes out of something bad. God bless.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for days, i have been wishing there was some way i could help those affected by sandy. i am poor. i am far away. but as i read your article, it occurred to me that i can knit and i have a bountiful stash of yarn. thank you for the inspiration.

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live one mile from the beach. I have sand in my car until, usually, November. I drive my kids to school and see the ocean 9/10 of the way. I made a living selling ice cream in a little beach town where no one ever believed an ice cream store could support a family of six. But it did, and nicely. And one day it will again. Until then, thank you for your beautiful words.

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and they dont see Far Rockaway, truly the forgotten town in all of New York, not rockaway park, not breezy point, but Far Rockaway,

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading about your experience was eye opening and educational. Thank you for taking the time to write, when you could have not bothered... You put into words you reflections and considerations and sage advice. I hope I can print it out, I know it will be useful to many people, now and in the future. God Bless you.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Andiknits said...

While Katrina nor Sandy were the cause, I have expereinced complete loss, including a house fire, more than once. Your piece affected me deeply. I wish that someone would have been able to tell me these things; it would have helped to know that I would be feeling and facing those things and not feel so alone, or crazy. Your piece also answered a question I have been carrying since Sandy,that wondered about how to connect Katrina experiencers with Sandy experiencers, as I too think that your experience in navigating the afterward would be essential in helping everyone, citizens and leaders alike, to learn from what did and did not work, as well as advocates for those who lost. Advocacy can be very powerful, as mothers know well, and who better to advocate than those who have been there, done that. THank you for your voice.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Andiknits said...

While Katrina nor Sandy were the cause, I have expereinced complete loss, including a house fire, more than once. Your piece affected me deeply. I wish that someone would have been able to tell me these things; it would have helped to know that I would be feeling and facing those things and not feel so alone, or crazy. Your piece also answered a question I have been carrying since Sandy,that wondered about how to connect Katrina experiencers with Sandy experiencers, as I too think that your experience in navigating the afterward would be essential in helping everyone, citizens and leaders alike, to learn from what did and did not work, as well as advocates for those who lost. Advocacy can be very powerful, as mothers know well, and who better to advocate than those who have been there, done that. THank you for your voice.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

with credit (two links), i took the liberty of reposting your words here:

the gotv online community has many members who were directly in sandy's path. i thank you for your thoughts and believe they will help those whose lives have been turned upside down. thank you.

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is beautifully written. I live on Staten Island but I live inland. Our home suffered minimum tree damage and loss of power. But as lifelong islanders our hearts have suffered deep losses. Our family friends and fellow islanders are amazing. They have lost so much but yet they pick up and plow on. The emotions are high as we discover more and more iconic places here that are lost. The jersey shore also means a lot to Staten Islanders as does breezy point and other local places devastated. We could never have envisioned this. My husband was in NO shortly after Katrina and he immediately noticed the similarity of the damage. It's hurtful when people scoff and say Sandy was nothing like Katrina. People who are comfortable and far away. Your words are beautiful. Governor Christie is correct. Things will never be the same. But someday they will be new and everyone will look ahead and survive as all of you have.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you to all of those that have posted such eloquent and inspiring comments here. Your words and experiences will help us weather the devastation that Sandy brought to our state.
As one of the many Northern NJ residents also affected by Sandy, our experience has been of horrible wind damage and continuing power outages. Up to the north, trees have damaged some homes to the point of complete destruction and others have actually taken the lives of residents. Northwestern NJ is very different from the stereotypical depictions of our beloved “Garden State” – we are a rural suburbia full of lake communities and stands of beautiful pine trees – not the often-depicted city sprawl by the turnpike or the beautiful shore area. People traveling thru on their way to Pennsylvania that are unfamiliar with the area often cannot believe they are actually in NJ.
Due mostly to all of the damage to our stately trees, many of my friends are still without power on this day 12 since Sandy hit our beloved Jersey Shore and the rest of the state. In my town many trees are still tangled in power lines, many houses have been seriously damaged by the horrifying winds that came thru here.
I am still catching up on what happened everywhere, but doing so finally in a warm house, after 9 days without power. The linemen from the south and other areas throughout the country have been fantastic! We know there is much work yet to be done thought-out the state, we appreciate the assistance and help!
We will work together to help our beloved state, including our shore communities and iconic cityscapes to the eastern shore on the Hudson River. NJ people are strong and proud of our state. Jersey Girls – and Boys ---- have grit!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thank you.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you... from the Town of Babylon, Long Island, New York...

10:40 AM  
Blogger Lauren Yarger said...

Insightful and helpful.

12:35 PM  
Blogger King of New York Hacks said...

Powerful and wise words brother...well received here in Staten Island NYC....have already seen some of what you've mentioned, and am now educated on more of what to expect. Thank you. Much love from NYC ~ Edward

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you. and thank you some more. i'm one of the lucky ones but my friends have lost so much and i've lost some of the most wonderful places i've had the privilege to spend time. i'm sharing your words.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous BevTexas said...

Sam...I cannot express how profoundly moved I am by your words. I'm 72 years old. Over my lifetime I've experienced grief beyond measure, some of it through acts of Nature, some through my fellow humans, all of it because God was teaching me to endure. At the same time I've experienced more joy than anyone is rightly entitled to. I've seldome known of anyone who can say what's in my heart as eloquently as you just have. Thank you.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Waits, Jersey Girl…….

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you, so much. i have so much i want to say in response to your beautifully written blog, yet cannot think of a way to put it. so i will leave it at that... thank you.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is incredible & made me cry. I'm in Brooklyn & am one of the unbelievably fortunate but am going to print this out & take it with me to the place where I'm volunteering on Monday & will share it with other places helping to remind those affected that they're not alone. Thank you.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How awesome of you to take the time to write this...I'm in tears reading it and exhausted from serving others. The generosity of people in our country is truly as overwhelming as the devastation all around me. Most of the town next to mine is condemned. I cried today when I drove through the once beautiful have given us a gift in your writing and with your permission, I'd like to share it with the people I'm serving who have lost everything.
God Bless.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Well written advice from someone who knows the score for sure.

We've lived through Floyd, Irene, Donna and numerous other hurricanes so we know the score.

There are many who do not have this just gave it to them.
Thank you.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Bill Brucato said...

Thank you, your advice is helpful more than you know.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I was in Katrina when it hit Ft. Lauderdale, and i hoped to never experience a hurricane ever again. Then last year there was Irene (a storm that people compared Sandy to, beforehand) and now Sandy. I live in Staten Island, and everything is ruined in my house. But at least i have a house. Everything you said, is true. I have to much pride to accept the help. I will rebuild, and pray a storm like this never again hits Staten Island for the devastation here is too much. The pictures and media shots do no justice to seeing it in person.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Regan said...

Thank you so much. We just had power restored tonight. We were blessed with no damage, but we are exhausted at the thought of what lies ahead. We will restore the shore. I hope you come visit!

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your beautiful and compassionate words. I'm on Long Island and my area was hit hard by Sandy. We will rebuild and I will take your advice to also grieve and to try to help in the planning. Thanks again.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the 4th time I've read this and the 4th time I have sobbed uncontrollably. The link to it is being "shared" across facebook pages and the advice is being discussed. People keep sharing it with words of "must read" "great advice" "words to remember as we restore the shore" etc. This piece will become an important part of the rebuild and the recovery. As a Jersey Girl I wanted to say thank you!

As 5 of us, piled in my car today on our way to deliver hot food to folks in Port Monmouth, NJ my teenage children took turns reading the article outloud. Not a dry eye in the car. This helped to set the tone for what turned out to be a very rewarding day for all of us. I felt it was important for my children who had their power restored after 7 days and were blessed with a dry basement to see first hand how lucky they are. They got it!!!! They were inspired by the gratefulness they saw in those who'd lost everything. While of course everyone said "thank you," they didn't need to. Their eyes said so much more than words could. Somehow however, you found a way to translate the looks in people's eyes into words. The grief, the gratitude, the fear, the captured it all magnificently. Thank you for being a part of a very special day for me and my children and to help teach all of us valuable lessons.

God Bless

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I read this, I think, " If I knew then what I know now." It is almost as if you are giving us that knowledge. Thank you for sharing, and being so honest. You didn't say, it will be ok, because it might not. Your words were well put and greatly appreciated. I wish you the best in your continuous recovery.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sam
Thank you for your insight. I call Breezy Point my home, and though it will be months before I will be able to live there again, and years before it will ever resemble anything that it once did, it will always be home in my heart...

2:49 AM  
Blogger Skinnie Minnie said...

Thank you so much for this. It was well needed. Now I know what to REALLY expect. We now fully understand what you guys went through. I don't wish it on anyone.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Rangers_4Life said...

Thank You so much as this was a very powerful reading of hope, strength, and experience. This is absolutely perfect as it is to me like the survival guide on how to weather the storm no pun intended of course. It has given me many of the tools that one must have after something of this magnitude. I too saw the power trucks from Shreveport, LA right down the street from me here in Point Pleasant, N.J. as an anonymous posted above from Brick, N.J. as they too restored our power here in Point Pleasant on the Jersey Shore. I took pictures of them as many different linemen from everywhere have been seen but Louisiana really gave me chills of course because of Katrina. Thank You again as this was so needed for me as I have been trying to stay strong for loved ones as one never thinks he will ever have to encounter something so big with of course no expierence on how and what to do. God Bless All!

Wayne L.

Point Pleasant, N.J.

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your words. I will certainly pass them on.
I am from a town on Long Island that hasn't made the news, but has suffered. You see, there were actually 2 parts to Hurricane Sandy. One was the extreme devastation and destruction caused by the high tides, ocean and water. The other, which affected my area, was the result of the winds. Winds that were so powerful that they brought down tree, after tree after tree. Trees that were so large and old that they ripped the earth. Trees that tore through powerlines and poles, smashed our cars, and in many cases hit our our roofs and sliced through our homes leaving psychological trauma in it's wake. And much of what Sandy weakened, the Noreaster spliced and brought down. So many huge branches are hanging waiting to fall and every day we drive under them...
Now, I am failing time see the beauty that I once saw in nature. And as you said, my little ones are afraid of the wind.

5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Sam for the beautiful words. It's so easy to sit in our warm homes, surrounded by our family, pets and "stuff" and tisk tisk over "how sad for those people" but we never think we could be one of "those poor people" some day. But so easily things change our lives that we never see coming or don't believe could happen to us. It's how we manage through that is important.

Yes, those hurt by Sandy will be mad, will be shouting at the world at times. But it's about strength, the strength to know what matters, the strength to watch out for each other and the strength of character.

My husband and I spent our youth in NJ and remember those days "down at the Shore" (with a capital S) that won't be again for a while. But as everyone has said Jersey is tough and Jersey will rebuild, stronger, and better. There is always "stuff" available but love and family and community is really the only important "stuff". To those hurt by this force of nature, you have that love, that famiy and that community even if you can't see them from where you stand.

P.S.: Somehow I think Gov. Christie is going to be like the Maryland government last year after the repeated storms that left people with no power for weeks...They just said no to power companies when they requested rate hikes to pay for the overtime. MD told them they showed such poor service they didn't deserve a hike.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Jersey girl. I now live several hundreds of miles away... but the pain and loss is every bit as sharp as if I were there with my family and friends. The places of my childhood memories are gone forever. My daughter will never get to see those places as I saw them. Jersey is and will ALWAYS be home no matter where I live and I am devastated emotionally. I am torn inside. I feel as shredded as the boards walks and homes. I feel so much guilt that I am not there- like I abandoned my home, my family, my friends. I have been trying to hold back the tears and the pain and overwhelming feelings of loss- of feeling adrift, like I have no roots anymore because I feel like I don't have those rights anymore. I left. But I cannot help how I feel. I was not expecting to be where I am. I'm a mess. And I feel like I don't have a 'right' to be a mess. But- that's MY HOME. I wish I could do something... wish I could make it better... wish I could turn back the clock. I LOVE YOU NEW JERSEY...

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this sage advice. I'm in NYC and have shared this with as many people as I can reach. God Bless you.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Janis Rainone said...

Thank you, shared....

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderfully written blog. Sound advice and heart wrenching sentiment. But, we'll know what to expect.

What many of us seem to be craving is normalcy, as our new normal takes shape.

A LI'er

2:04 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Schmitty said...

This Jersey Girl thanks you for your words.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous CP said...

I'm in NYC, safe, dry, full electricity (I live in Harlem, where the worst we got from Sandy was a tree or two knocked down here & there); but my friend who weathered Katrina in NOLA sent this to me, & I will be sure to send it onwards to everyone I know in NY, to keep spreading these sweet & helpful words throughout the city, so that they hopefully reach as many eyes as can find them useful. Thank you. NOLA went through hell & back, & though we have it bad, and I wouldn't wish the loss of a home on anyone, Sandy was fortunately nowhere close to the destructive levels that the failure of the levees was for your incredible, resilient city. This doesn't make your words any less valuable, it really is just to reassure YOU. Thanks again!

5:32 PM  
Anonymous jennifer nimon said...

Thank you. Absolutely POETIC, in the most genuine sense of the word.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written. As someone who has grown up along the "jersey Shore" (or beaches) it was devastating to see the damage to my life. My life as I knew it has will never be the same, but it will be ok. My current house is safe, my family is safe. I have 2 young children who, like you said, do not understand. They are now afraid of the dark, trees falling on our house (since a few fell in the yard), fire,rain, wind...the list will go on. I thank you for your kind words. New Jersey really appreciates it!

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Kelly said...

Thank you for your insight and confirmation that the insanity I am feeling are shared by others. I know we won't be home for months but will rebuild with the love and faith of our fellow long beachers!

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I am a Jersey Girl lving on the Jersey Shore.Thankfully my home was spared. I moved from Union Beach, a NJ Bayshore town 5 months ago. My old neighorhood is gone. The homes are condemned or completely gone. It is so sad. Hearing Jersey Girl on the radio brought me to tears. I cannot think of the song without choking up. We are Jersey Strong and we will get through this but not without many tears.... Thank you to everyone from all over the nation who came to our rescue, with a special thank you to all the power companies who are still here trying to restore power. Also to the National Guard who came here to protect us when we needed it the most. God Bless.

11:00 PM  
Blogger JimJohnston said...

I drove down from Massachusetts Saturday and spent the day helping people in Rockaway Queens recover. There were hundreds of volunteers at work.

One insight I'd like to share that may surprise you.... It's good for prices of essentials to go up somewhat in times of crisis. The higher price covers the higher cost of providing goods and services, and also attracts more supply to the area. Greater supply is what is desperately needed.

In a related vein, again perhaps a contrarian view: It's a valuable service for insurance companies to be vigilant after a disaster--if they paid every claim (including the outrageous ones, of which there certainly are some), all the honest people would be worse off in the long run, with either bankrupt carriers or higher rates.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Thank you very much for posting this. As a resident in a Jersey Shore town where Hurricane Sandy decided she wanted an indoor pool in my house (and my neighbors houses), I appreciate this greatly.

I've been feeling all sorts of emotions and beating myself up over missing some of the small physical memories (the big stuff can be replaced.) I feel better knowing it's alright to mourn the loss of the little things. That it's okay because even though some may have lost more, I can have the feelings I feel and those feelings aren't unreasonable.

Thank you again!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Warpo Magic said...

It's rare that a blog post will bring me to tears .... this one did. As a NOLA resident, I feel you did a great job of letting the northern folk know what to expect. You also did a great job of reminding me what I have been through, and survived ... we're still here, damnit .... and we're still strong ... My heart goes out to our northern neighbors.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Mark Folse said...

It is a mistake, Jim, to impugn human morality to corporations, and in particular the insurance racketeers. It was made abundantly clear in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast they do not exist to serve their customers, whatever their cozy advertisements suggestions. They exists to maximize income and minimize expenditures, and could care less if you live in your house or a tent or a cardboard box. They have your money, their are other fools in the world, and if they can avoid paying you they will do so.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. <3

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad I read this. I lost my home and a lot of my belongings in Sandy but I'm fortunate to say I have two story house and whatever was in my bedroom upstairs was left untouched. Nonetheless I cant say being homeless and seeing my home, town and state destroyed is easy. I have been neglecting even going to get my mail just because I don't like seeing the condition of what used to be my home and neighborhood. I am pretty much trying to ignore everything but ultimately it still sucks. Since I am someone who doesn't like to cry or get upset I really haven't wanted to talk to anyone. I'm not going to lie....this made me cry. But Im alright with that because oddly enough it made me feel a little better. Sometimes you don't have to talk to let it out...reading has done me just as well in this case. Thank you again

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jersey Girl" is by Tom Waits (off of Heart Attack and Vine album), but beautiful post. Though I suspect many New Yorkers (I'm on LI) are too angry at the utilities to heed your words for awhile. Free floating anger and anxiety has to land somewhere, and it's a narrative being fed by politicians and the media, whatever its truth. It's good, though, to remind us all about what can be overlooked in the aftermath....

5:31 PM  
Blogger said...

From a Jersey Girl - thank you:-)

6:51 PM  
Blogger Billy Veraszto said...

This is not only beautifully written, but carries with it vast experience. The words of knowledge all in the path of Sandy will need to summon in the future. We have been beaten up, but we have not been defeated. Long Island, NYC, Jersey will all gain strength, and hopefully preparedness in this. I know I have. Thanks for this amazing piece of your heart - I will continue to refer back to this as I need.

9:04 PM  
Blogger missbernklau said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I'm from Long Beach and my parents live there, they stayed during the storm and somehow their home survived the ocean rolling down the street...only the basement flooded with 5 feet of water. We did lose some sentimental "stuff", but everyone is still here. I didn't hear from them for 3 days after the storm because things were so devastated everywhere it was impossible to get in touch. I feel lucky that my family suffered little (I'm not sure if they realize that) in comparison to others in our town (although I would imagine watching 6-foot waves crashing down your street would be frightening and traumatic to say the least). I have friends whose entire family lost their homes and they all have nowhere to go until their condemned homes are rebuilt. For them, I feel a deep sense of heartbreak and I wish I could do more for them, for the people that lost their home and their job in one night...the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming (as an unemployed person too, I only have my two-hands to offer help really, and I know in this situation, people really need money to rebuild).

Anyway, thank you so much for this. I am friends with someone who moved back to NJ from New Orleans after being displaced from Katrina, I know from her that this isn't a trauma that just disappears, and it takes so long to get your life back to "normalcy" and even when that happens, the trauma is still there. But as long as people take your advice, that the communities keep sticking together and holding each other up through this process, they will not just survive, but thrive together. I'm crying as I write this because I know that it is so much easier said than done, especially for those who have been through so much. I just wish every one that's been affected peace, love and strength.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Augello said...

Thank you from Long Island.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Kristi said...

your words are so true. you are a beautiful, passionate writer who understands the magnitude of our situation. it was hard for us in nj to imagine the devastation you faced because we have not lived it. and no we do. and hopefully we can both rejoice one day over our towns, home, and lives rebuilt. :)

7:02 AM  
Blogger Valentine said...

Please don't call yourself a refugee. While it is a word that is often broadly used in situations like these, what we were and now other people are is internally displaced persons, i.e., up that proverbial creek. We would have been better off as refugees. I wrote a play about this.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why I love New Orleans! No one can understand what you guys went through with Katrina. I kind of did because I had friends from there trying to get out before the storm.
I almost moved there a year before the storm and if I did the house i was suppose to buy was gone after the storm.
I travel down to my favorite town ever year so far after the storm and the year after Katrina hit sitting at bars and listening to the people and cops tell stories of horrible things that no one heard of outside of Nola, was horrible.
Every year I go to ROyal st and see the 5 year etc display at the ROyal collection and I cry every time.
I love Nola and I even though not from there from Jersey, was heart broken when Katrina hit you guys!
I wanted to help and they would not let people in after awhile to help.
I love you guys, support you all and will always do so!
You understand what this storm has done to us in Jersey.
You do cry for no reason, my house got damaged but nothing like some peoples houses, my aunt lost hers in Sea Bright.
BUT just like Nola we will rebuild!
It will take time and no one can understand this unless you live it.
Love you guys and love this blog!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Shannon Winning said...

Thanks for the wisdom, beautifully written.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for being the person who finally gave me permission to cry over all the 'stuff" that I lost.. Yes, it was just stuff, but it was stuff that my grandmother touched and used and loved, it was my own stuff that survived years of culls and two moves, it was stuff kept just to trigger those memories and now it's just so much landfill. I feel like I threw my childhood and all my memories on the garbage pile and all everyone says is, "It's just stuff.. It's okay, don't worry". And I desperately need to cry and mourn for those things, which I didn't give myself permission to do as I dragged it out of the muck and silt and filth that used to be my basement and first floor, and I think tonight, I'm finally going to do just that.

2:10 PM  
Blogger MiamiCanesLH said...

I am glad to know that there are thoughtful and compassionate people in this world - thank you for every beautiful word written. Thank you for your generosity in advice, your passion in your words, and the care in your heart. We need all of those things.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just thought about the google maps/ general world perception of your area problem which has happened in reverse. We had to carp and carp to get google to take new photographs after we made progress. your maps are pristine right now. download them for future reference. soon you will be getting new maps from google.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every storm is different, and I believe that there have been some practical lessons learned from Katrina and other more recent tragedies in our country. But the individual human response to being displaced by a disaster is probably very similar now in the northeast, compared to how it felt to us in New Orleans in 2005. It's miserable, frustrating, sickening, frightening, degrading, stressful beyond belief, and tough also for family members who took us into their homes. I would like to add my love and prayers to this post, for clarity and strong recovery to Hurricane Sandy victims. Susanna Powers, New Orleans

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Compassion, commiseration and hard-bought wisdom.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam, thank you for this heartfelt and wise essay. I took the liberty of printing out for my classes at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY, closed for days due to the storm surge and damage. Among my students: One Far Rockaway resident's apartment was burglarized last Friday; a young, recently divorced mother has been carrying her toddler up and down 20 flights to their powerless Coney Island apartment; a sweet young man from Staten Island who lost everything looks ten years older. He asked me to pray for him and his family.

I wish we could have your last name to give you full credit as the author. I wish you could help those of us who got lucky and just have trouble finding gas to know what to say to those who weren't.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure if they consider a blog post as something that was "published online" (since a blogger can edit and delete his/her work), but I do wish you would see if they'd take this.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

I wish I could express as eloquently as you did what it means to know that there are people out there who understand what we are going through here in NY and NJ. I'm from an area of Brooklyn (Sheepshead Bay) that was hit pretty hard and I have been unable to live in my home since then. Thank you for understanding and your incredible words of wisdom.
Thank you from the very depths of my soul.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

My name is Sam Jasper, and I'll think about what you asked regarding what to say to those who weren't as lucky as you. Maybe just, "Is there any way I can help?"

I have a few more comments I'd like to make in response to the incredibly humbling number of you who have written here. I will do that tomorrow. I gotta get past the kleenex to see the keyboard.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Marco said...

Sam this is truly from the heart and soul of New Orleans. I remember reading some of the comments on NOLA blogs from those who didn't get it in 2005 and probably still don't to this day.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Mary said...

As a New Yorker with a house full of family who lost their home, a new dog who lost his home and lots of questions in our laps I want to thank you for what you wrote. It made me cry, I remember crying during Katrina. Watching the news correspondants almost making a game out who was in a worst area and cursing them, knowing full well that people were trying to survive this. I watched that again during Sandy, but this time it was right outside my door. I'm not sure who I am most angry at..The guy who wouldn't open up his door to the woman with the two babies. Those kids died. The governor not allowing the national guard to come in, even though thugs were taking advantage of any and all situations. The thugs who broke into my family's devestated house and stole anything that was left. FEMA & Red cross for not showing up until days later. On the other hand the goodness of some people is just breath taking. People who have now devoted weeks and weeks to the cause of feeding the hungry, clothing the cold and caring for strangers. People truly are amazing sometimes..

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seeing it thru the eyes of Oceanside and Long Beach, Long Island our motto has been " One day at a time..maybe even one minute or hour at a time." Thank you for your amazing words of wisdom!

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Krystal said...

Hey Sam,

I came across your blog a few days ago and I've shared it quite a few times.

I tried to think of a way that I could help some of the people who were affected by Sandy (myself included) and I wanted to try and create a way in which people could share their experiences and talk about what's going on or what they've been through because I think there is real healing in discussing your experiences. So I am attempting to start a blog where people can do just that. I was wondering if you could possibly help me because you have a large following from those affected, by sharing the link for me. It's I would really appreciate it if you would help. I really think it could help people.


5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you from Breezy Point. I volunteered during Katrina, and am now working on my own damaged community. much love and gratitude.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you from Monmouth Beach NJ - the only thing we really have is each other. Your kind words will help those that need to rebuild.

A brief personal story - my brother was on vacation during the storm and his house flooded while he was away. His daughters cleaned up the house before they returned however he still returned to no power and much work to do.

He and his wife had a connection to fly home - through New Orleans. They had some time with the layover so they took a tour of New Orleans. My brother shared that they were so grateful for that experience because they knew that what they endured was nothing compared to the devastation of Katrina. Our hearts go out to your community.

We are strong and we will rebuild. Your words are comforting to our community at this time.

Thank you!

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully written from your soul, while our collective soul aches here in the Northeast. Thank you from Long Island.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

We know the tears you'll shed as your kids' yearbooks and baby pictures are gone forever. We understand your toughness, your determination to rebuild, your compassion for your neighbors and your statements about your family being fine and your losses were “only stuff.” Those words made me feel like I wasn't a lone, Thank you from Lindenhurst Long Island

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Jay Jessup said...

Greetings from Sea Bright, NJ

Wow! You hit sooo many nails on the head. Written with a complete and true understanding.

Thank you for putting this in writing.....

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a stranger in a strange land August 29, 2005. Ironically, I was amongst friends in that same land October 29, 2012, as my homeland was preparing for a similar super storm.
Both times, I watched the cloud masses swirl in the atmosphere. Both times I felt fear for the duration of the storms.
I have been in harm's way and way out of the way of harm. Damage done - time to help, time to heal.

10:06 PM  
Blogger barbstar54 said...

So many wise words. I am from Oceanport NJ. Not quite a waterfront home...if I stood on my second story roof, and people cut down their trees, I'd have a view of the Shrewsbury River. Sandy brought that river 3 1/2 feet into my lower level.

My gallows humor has helped immensely. Having lost my husband 3 months ago, and my job the week before the storm destroyed half my home, I've said all I need is a truck and a dog and I could be the subject of a country western song.

The tears didn't make sense until I read this. Tears of anger, frustration (I'm 58-when did I stop being strong enough to rip out my own sheet rock?) tears of loss. Doing this mostly on my own SUCKS. Why the hell do the contractors say it will cost $93K to rebuild and my flood insurance will give me $39K? Why is no one in my family a lawyer or a carpenter???

So far, I've received three "survivor guilt" gifts-a card from a cousin with $50. A candle for stress relief from someone from my church. And an offer from an old friend to take my son out shopping to replace some clothes. What I learned after my husband died is that people have to be taught what to say to help. It's not "let me know what you need" because, hell, I'm a Jersey Girl...I can do this all on my own(Ha). It's "I'm off tomorrow-put me to work" that is so helpful. You have time? Throw away all the food that's sitting in my fridge from not having power. Take my muddy clothes to your home and wash them. Try and save some of my photos/kids school art/yearbooks. Or take me out to eat something not flat, round and covered in red sauce.

I'm sorry I didn't have more compassion when Katrina hit. Karma's a bitch they say and maybe it's coming back to smack me around a little for not doing more than making a token contribution seven years ago. But we will survive and we will pay it forward for everything we learn from this experience.

Be well Sam, and thank you again.

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend shared this blog on Facebook...which I did too. Then I shared the original with other friends.

Your words ring of experience, truth, sorrow, compassion, and most importantly hope. As a northern NJ resident who went through severe flooding/loss with Hurricanes Floyd and Irene - I kept trying to find words to define the "I get it" I was feeling when listening to fellow Jersey folk dealing with Sandy. I was trying to figure out how to share advice without sounding dismissive or preachy. You nailed it and your words are doing what I tried to do with less success.

The state of NJ is battered and bruised in ways only survivors of Katrina can understand. We appreciate your words of wisdom and heartfelt support. It is not only money and physical donations our people need - it is the emotional bandages, the sending of positive energy and hope, the permission to mourn/cry/scream/get frustrated. Your blog is such a donation...and is appreciated.

Our state may be in ruins..but as Springsteen said we will rise up. We are Jersey strong.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Sam for your heartfelt words and wisdom. It helps to share with those that have gone through this before us.

Long Beach, NY

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am from Jersey, still go back every summer, family still living at the shore. They are devastated and I am for them as well. This made me cry and I will send to my sister. Thank you for taking the time to put all your thoughts into words.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tomorrow morning I will be in Lavallette, NJ, 1 mile north of Seaside and 3 miles south of Mantoloking. I will be helping my 92 year old grandmother go through the shattered pieces of my childhood and removing waterlogged furniture and sheetrock. Your words could not have been kinder or better timed. Thank you.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome!!!!! it's very cold and we need hats and scared made with love is best

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear America,

We are the REAL New Jersey. We are NOT the cast of MTV's Jersey Shore or Jerseylicious or the "Real Housewives" of New Jersey. We are hard-working people who happen to live in a beautiful state that is often the butt of biased comedians' jokes. But that is because they don't know us; they only know the stereotyped Jerseyite.

We are educated. We are resilient. We take great pride in our state. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were immigrants who worked in refineries, docks and train stations. We are the sons and daughters of blue collar workers that allowed (by hard work , sacrifice, and sweat) New York City's economic development to occur. We are the grandchildren and children of police officers, teachers, railroad workers and firefighters.

We also take amazing pride in our homes. Why? Because we have worked many jobs to afford them in a state that is very expensive to live in due to our resources. You see, others save up to visit here; we have to work that much harder to live here. Yet, we relish our mountains, we enjoy being near forests and streams, and our New Jersey Coastline is the most amazing natural site. Though a cliché, our backyards are the vacation spots for other people. From Keansburg Amusement Park to Atlantic City, we offer a plethora of experiences enhanced by the majestic and natural beauty of our beaches and the friendly demeanor of our people.

And when our backs are up against the wall, we will come together and work toward a common goal. So pray for us, assist us if you feel inclined to with donations….and then WATCH US as we get through this difficult challenge victoriously, We will be ready to serve frozen custard, funnel cake and salt water taffy with the sounds of: the Seaside Park Roller Coaster, Atlantic City Casino's, Bon Jovi playing at Asbury Park, screams from Runaway Rapids in Keansburg, horse and buggy rides in Cape May, the yelling kids on the Himalaya at Point Pleasant or the sound of Jetskis roaring off the water in Sandy Hook and Belmar in the background.

We are New Jersey…and we will get through this with our diligence and the Grace of God.
~ R. Heitmann
November 1, 2012

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Debbie said...

So well written. While I live in NJ, for me it wan't Sandy but Irene We were among the few who had tremendous damage from that storm and you've captured it exactly. As horrible as that was, seeing it all over again through Sandy was almost worse - it's only been a year and nothing has healed, not my house and certainly not my children. And you do find yourself saying the words 'oh, we don't have that anymore' - a lot. It moved me to tears - thank you for sharing.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You Sam
Thank You Jimmy....for being our PIT BULL!!
Advice well taken. Here I found this great insight into how others feel. Yes,we will get through all of this somehow. We lost our home, the contents inside and our vehichles. But we did not lose our souls.
To all of our Military, our neighbors, strangers from around the states who came to our aid and assisted in supporting us all THANK YOU... and GOD BLESS YOU!
In the end, life is about helpng others, something I need to do more of. I learned the other day a phrase "PUSH FORWARD"
I asked what that meant. They explained when someone does good to you...You Push Forward to helping someone else.
I have since then each day, try to Push Forward. Maybe it is part of my healing process, I dont know, but I do believe that you Sam, pushed forward.....because here we all are reading the words that you have written to us, and taking it all in. It helps.
Thank You.
Happy Holidays to All

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for putting into words what all of us are feeling every day.. I was lucky enough to be part of a beach bungalow community called Camp Osborn.. we have gotten a lot of press and pictures of our burning homes and have become one of the popular images of press articles, fundraisers, etc almost the poster child of Sandy. We were just north of Seaside Heights and on a clear day could view the iconic coaster now floating in the ocean.. This place, this little 500 square foot home was my heart my life my everything ...these homes were in peoples families for generations they were put together with scrap wood and middle class hard working hands that gave up alot to give their family a little piece of Jersey Shore heaven... we worry now that we will never get back what we had we don't want gigantic homes or condos or our land being forced into eminent domain but we are still awaiting our fate and everyday becomes harder and harder.. being a Jersey Girl I don't do well with being patient i want to see progress yesterday and i know I can't and will be forced to wait to government to decides our fate... but we have to hope as a community of 100 plus houses lost that we will come together and make it through and live the Jersey Strong mantra... My heart was heavy when I watched the devastation during Katrina but now living it myself I can't put into words what this difficult time has been what i can say is that i read your blog whenever i need clarity to our situation I am thankful that others are feeling what we are feeling and I can only look towards a future a different future but a future just the same... thank you for sharing your story and thanks for reading ours... I thankyou for your words I and many others are reading them with hope for future progress. It helps more then you know hope you all have a happy holidays...

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Cindy Plissner said...

Thank you so much for your beautiful writing. We are on Staten Island and our home was hit and we also lost our business. We kept saying..."No thank you, theres other people worse than us. We're fine". But you know what? As Thanksgiving went by and we were cleaning things out and still didnt have heat, and Hanukkah and Christmas went by and we were de molding we realized we werent okay and still arent. Your used to helping and now you are the one who needs help. The things you cry over now.. someone handing you a cup of hot coffee, someone handing you a hot meal, someone handing you a box of toiletries and cleaning supplies. And you are right..there is no help from the government, the insurance companies, not even FEMA. You have to fight to get food stamps, unemployment, any type of loan. You have to beg them for a scrap of food. But the people surrounding you are amazing. Your friends, neighbors, family and even strangers- most of them turn into angels. So I thank you very much for being my little angel tonight. I needed to hear your story. I needed to cry for you and also to be able to cry for us. Cindy Plissner

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Laura J. from Rockaway said...

Thank you for this thoughtful piece. I live on the Rockaway peninsula. It's sad to see other Rockawayites splintering into "Us vs. them" ( "Far Rockaway versus Breezy Point"). it is unproductive and unfair. there is not a person living in this area who did not suffer a loss, albeit some more than others
. Your words help keep perspective. We are experiencing the frustrations of ineffective & ignorant politicians. We see our coastlines ( ocean and bay) completely open to the forces of nature without any indication that real action will address this vulnerability for some time, probably years. In the meantime, we are trying to be strong. You are right, we are proud. We welcome any other advice you have!!We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Share your experiences!! Thank you!

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You NAILED IT. This story is going viral on FB because you captured EVERY SINGLE EMOTION AND EVENT that is going on now. 11 weeks, still 7000 homes without power in the Rockaways. Still no heat or hot water. 30-40% of houses abandoned, empty or inhabitable. Outrageous numbers for urbanites in a prosperous city. Thank you and God bless you Sam. oxoxox

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Donna of Oceanside said...

I was just sitting here at my desk after being told, 3 months after the storm, that our condo's insurance claim will most likely not be settled for another 2 months, and after the SBA loan officer who was handling my claim has been out on emergency leave, with my file left to collect dust on her desk while I've been somewhat patiently and mostly optimisticly waiting for money to rebuild my home. Then I came across your blog, and I cried again, even harder this time, because someone out there understands. It's as if you gave me a huge, warm, comforting bear hug just when I needed it most. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for writing this, and letting me cry.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Julia Geiger said...

Thank you! My tears started to fall as I started to read about, "the little ones". My family has been hit hard by Sandy, and we lost everything. I have to say .....the hardest part is seeing your childrens world being turned upside down. I've watched my precious 5yr old little man regress daily, his anger is apparent. I find myself neglecting my 2 teenagers, my husband and myself because my heart is so heavy. I have learned patience, strength & understanding in a way I never thought I was capable of.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous chiropractors new jersey said...

Great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw this and it is now 2 1/2 years after Sandy and I am still not home and I had flood insurance and had significant structural and foundation and damage and was denied with no basis by my insurance company because they said that damage was caused by land subsidence and earth movement and not by the storm surge. I had 6 feet of water in my home and everything was destroyed and they tell me that it was caused by earth movement, are you kidding me! This has been happening to a large number of people on Long Island. I am working class just like most of the people that were hit by Sandy. I have weathered through all this and gone through savings, etc. due to this. I take care of my elderly mother and like you said in the story it hit the elderly very hard. She has been through a lot in her life and was a widow at a young age with two young children but this has been very difficult for her and the insurance companies just made it so much harder than it had to be. However, we have weathered worse in our life and will keep moving forward like we have for the past 2 1/2 years. Thank God for family otherwise we would have no place to live. God bless you for voicing what a lot of us feel.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Moe Meltz said...

Dear Sam, I want you to know that your prophetic article was one of the few things to get me through what I can only describe as the apocoplyse that was Sandy. It's been three years now. I've been frantically searching for this post over the past year. This past March, I was finally diagnosed with PTSD from Sandy. It's been a horrible road clawing my way back from hell to a fraction of the human being I was before the storm hit... I just wanted to say thank you, and I love you. Your words have resonated in my soul. Your words were the only thing that validated me as, day by day, I drifted further away from my former self. You will forever be my angel. Xo Moe

8:49 AM  
Blogger Sam Jasper said...

Again, thank you all so very much. Moe, your words brought tears to my eyes. We here in New Orleans ten years later realize that 2005 changed us permanently. The children born on rooftops waiting for help are now in fourth grade. Astonishing. For newcomers to our city, the Flood is not something they can relate to and I think often they don't understand the permanent scars we carry. You will get through it, albeit not the same as you were before. That said, the person you are now and will be in the future is far stronger than you ever imagined. Know that.

4:09 PM  

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