Moving on after Hurricane Sandy

Editors Note: Emily Mills, a current Michigan student, hails from Chatham, NJ.

I remember in the days leading up to Sandy’s landfall endlessly refreshing weather.com to find out whether or not my parents were going to be all right, and whether the house’s new paint job was going to survive. Information on individual communities and weather conditions was scarce, besides a consistent 100% chance of rain all across the board. And, considering my community in New Jersey was notorious for its power outages at the slightest gust of wind, I knew that any text from my parents would likely be the last I’d hear from them in awhile.

Sure enough, my parents lived without power for two weeks, with their only relief being occasional trips out to the local library to warm up and wait in line to use the public dial-up computers (the nostalgia of the dial-up sounds was, perhaps, the first to go).  While a house without electricity can be fun to some extent – my parents began to crack after a week of reading ghost stories and living in candlelight. The house became increasingly depressing, and the ability to travel became difficult with the gas shortages. My live-in grandparents’ idiosyncrasies turned into personal offenses, and my parents battled vehemently on who got the last piece of chocolate before the supply ran out.

While they knew things would eventually be all right, waking up every morning to a 46-degree house eventually took its toll. Pretty soon, the entire neighborhood looked closer to a scene from Lord of the Flies, than a New Jersey suburb. Even my mother was driven into a screaming match with a neighbor over whether one of the hundreds of branches on their lawn came from one of our trees or their own.

When the power finally came back on Election Day, my parents cried out of relief and proceeded to crank up the heat to the point where even Al Gore would be ashamed. But, while Hurricane Sandy was over (at least personally) for my parents, they knew that other houses and communities were still in need of reconstruction and repair. Many communities across the coast lost access to clean water, and many others were subject to fires and rampant flooding.  Some houses in the neighborhood have either sustained incredible damage, or have lost their homes entirely, and yet others remain without power.

Repairing the East Coast from the havoc that Hurricane Sandy has wrought will take time, and we are still a long way away from life returning back to normal.  But, the process has at least begun.

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