Hurricane Sandy Hit & We’re Giving Each other The Finger?

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Boats are strewn among houses amid wreckage from Superstorm Sandy in Sea Bright, New Jersey. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Over the past week, the news has been filled with footage and updates regarding Hurricane Sandy’s devastation and recovery efforts. Referred to by many media outlets as “New Jersey’s Katrina,” the superstorm has claimed lives and livelihood here and across several other states.  Some lost power. Others lost  homes, business and in some cases, family members.

As a New Jersey resident for over 20 years, I’ve never lived more than 15 miles from the ocean. It’s difficult to comprehend when Governor Christie and others say that most of the Jersey shore is now entirely “unrecognizable”  or altogether gone. Homes, possessions and pets are no more, swept in the ocean along with the twisted metal of entire roller coasters from nearby boardwalk amusement areas.

Seaside Heights Funtown Pier, NJ. Superstorm Sandy 2012.

Much of my childhood was spent on Staten Island (also greatly impacted by Sandy) where trips with family to head “down the shore” made me lose sleep with excitement.  Through the years, there were strolls along the shore, enjoying boardwalk taffy and bonfires and of course, plenty of swimming. One unusually hot April day a few years ago brought hundreds of people to the shore. I joined them on Sandy Hook, one of my favorite places, grinning ear to ear at the pre-Memorial Day delight of wearing suntan lotion.  Just a few days before Sandy hit, I sat on the Point Pleasant beach and watched the wonderful sunrise.  I made the rest of that day a “beach day” as I drove through Spring Lake, Ocean Grove and then along Ocean Avenue passing through Monmouth Beach, Sea Bright and finally, Sandy Hook.

Yesterday, I spoke with a friend who is now in a hotel room miles away, unsure of the status of her Sea Bright condo.  Low-flying  Coast Guard helicopters are a routine sound as are the sights of the National Guard waving people through blocked intersections, downed poles and buckled streets.  Parts of the shore do not exist.

Sunrise, Point Pleasant, NJ October 26, 2012

Point Pleasant beach October 26, 2012

Yet while many people have pulled together to assist others by making monetary donations, volunteering at soup kitchens or donating food and clothing, there are those who have exhibited shockingly appalling behaviors.  Their childish “woe-is-me-and-nobody-else” whining and unwarranted rage (although, is rage ever warranted?) towards another person is an embarrassment to the human race, a shameful reflection of character and very, very disheartening to observe.

Actually, this could be said about behaviors in response to Sandy’s devastation just as much as it could be about how many people handle an ordinary day at work or home. A perpetual bad attitude, the inability to respect others and throwing their hands up in the air at adult life responsibilities, especially at times like this, does not demonstrate confidence and courage but rather cowardice and crudeness.

I say this because of what I observed yesterday: Big time road rage while waiting in a local gas line for over an hour. The man behind me could not help but to block the intersection and it was enough to set off the woman on the side road trying to cross. She had enough. She actually got out of her car, pounded her fist repeatedly on the man’s van door and hood, then shouted that he shouldn’t have blocked the intersection.  I couldn’t help but tremble as I watched from my rear-view mirror, her tone and frowns as deep as her impatience and lack of respect. The driver basically ignored until she returned to her vehicle. This of course, caused others to yell from their windows, a domino effect of anger that is often seen spewing forth from little minds trying to make big moves.

I spent the rest of my wait feeling nervous inside, listening to yells and honks and watching angry fists and fingers rise towards the glorious sky.  Just as I got to the tank about 30 minutes after this incident, a pedestrian came running up to a nearby police officer. She was breathless and near tears as she informed him that a fight was about to break out.

Moments later, my tank was filled. The instant I left the station, I felt lighter inside. Forget gas, I felt more grateful to have escaped near-riot experiences.  Yet my heart felt deeply saddened.

Entire boardwalks, homes and business are forever gone, the National Guard is in our own neighborhoods and for some, family members have died or are missing. We are all, in our own way, struggling. And yet, many folks—likely the same kind of folks who are bothered by sunlight but wait for someone else to buy them sunglasses, the same kind of folks who complain rather than contribute, the “I’m the only one in the world (or region, or mere moment)”—these people have nothing better to do than yell and pound their fists in anger all in their attempt to get ahead and ironically, move forward with their lives in peace and happiness.

We’re in this together, everyone. Not just concerning Sandy, but this thing called Life.

Let’s learn to play nice.

Sign in Tinton Falls, NJ November 3, 2012.

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5 thoughts on “Hurricane Sandy Hit & We’re Giving Each other The Finger?

  1. Scott

    What a wonderful way you have with words, the expression that you come across with is so full and vibrant color and a rich contras to the events that are happening around us,, bless your heart, your words ring true in all of our hearts, keep on writing, you have the world on your side… I’m certainly there.

  2. Nicely written Jen L. Almost felt like I was right there. How scarey that must have felt in the gas line, thinking the outcome might not be a good one. I wish these types of people could see what they are doing to themselves as well as others. You have a way with words.

  3. To set the stage, NASA did computer modeling of spent hurricanes in 2006 so since then city and state officials have known it was a hazard and NYC needed three sets of storm-surge gates like London had put in and was using more often every year.

    So nothing was done, and even after Irene put waves onto The Battery as a near miss nothing was done, so the subways flooding was preventable and much of the Staten Island damage had these flood gates been put in.

    65-minutes into this Nat’l Geo. special is the vignette on NYC done in 2007:

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/videos/six-degrees-could-change-the-world/?videoDetect=t%252Ct

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