It’s been almost four months since Hurricane Sandy swept through the Jersey shore leaving in its wake destruction.
Walking along the street you may see some houses that look fairly okay, but walk along the ocean side and it’ another story.
This past weekend we enjoyed the reopening of our Church. We spent the last four months celebrating mass in our parish hall, and it felt longer than that. Of course we made the best of it, we decorated for Christmas as best we could, and toughed it out. We were lucky, many of our parishioners were not as fortunate.
One man told me that the night of the storm he woke up to use the bathroom, and found himself in the dark with no electricity, about 3 feet of icy cold water, and furniture bumping into him as it floated around the room. He was scared to death. If it weren’t for a neighbor coming down the street in a canoe, and flashlight, looking for victims trapped in their homes, he doesn’t know what he would have done.
In the town next to ours, an estimated 110 homes were carried out to sea and the bay, 200 more, have been declared condemned, and will be demolished next month.
Some of the aftermath challenges are:
land where some homes once dwelled, are now sited unhabitable (no rebuilding). FEMA is forcing the townships to create new guidelines, restrictions, and permits to rebuild. These new procedures are out of financial reach for most of the middle class. This has left some home owners to abandon their properties, sell them to the township at a loss, or wait in them without repairs, hoping for a better solution.
I spoke to a single mother who said, the township has rezoned her home requiring her to raise her house, she can’t afford to do it. She attempted a loan from FEMA and was denied, because they don’t think she can afford to pay them back.
This picture above is a sentiment from one of her neighbors experiencing the same issue. On their front door they made a heart with a sword through the middle and drops of blood. They were selling the contents of their home and preparing to leave.
Sooner or later the authorities involved will have to realize, that decisions are being made to quickly, and without enough assessment to the long term causes, and effects, on the communities, and finances. There has been a lot of money raised to help alleviate some of these financial burdens being imposed on home owners, and townships, it’s just a matter of directing those funds appropriately.
When a devastating storm hits, such as Hurricane Sandy, and Hurricane Katrina, it impacts people to a sense of humility, enabling them to recognize how blessed their lives have been, and still are, motivating them to want to share their blessings with one another. I’ve heard from many people who have lost almost everything say, “I can’t complain, so many people have it worse than me, I am so fortunate, and grateful.”
“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King Jr. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.” Revelations 21:4-5.
There is always hope when people work together. We may struggle with challenges in the aftermath, but we struggle together, we will overcome together, and WE WILL REBUILD the Jersey Shore together.