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Behind the Storm: Hurricane Sandy

[ 0 ] November 13, 2012 |

Words and Photos by: Laura Krusheski

“Oh my gawd! This is oawlful! We’re gowing to loose everything!” a lady with a thick Jersey accent exclaims on a national radio broadcast. It’s monday October 29th and Hurricane Sandy is on a collision course with her home state.

I’m sitting in Salt Lake City awaiting a pre-scheduled flight to New Jersey. It has been delayed. I’m listening in on the radio broadcast to determine how long I will be waiting. The woman on the radio is ranting and crying about the danger she is in. I don’t believe it. I figure she an melodramatic New Jersey housewife with nothing better to do than freak out. I assume there’s probably a few limbs down and perhaps a quick power outage.

The type that would prevent the lady from blow drying her hair or watching episode after episode of ‘Desperate Housewives’ on her big screen T.V. Plus, the News reporters love to embellish on this type of story. It keeps them in a job and is a diversion from the current election coverage. The Tri-State area news has a habit of declaring ‘state of emergency’ over 5 inches of snow. I assume that this storm coverage is akin to the story, ‘The boy who cried wolf.’ Since the people of New York and New Jersey are famous for their drama, I denied any legitimacy to the hysterics I heard on the radio that night.

My flight landed in New Jersey less than 24 hours later. I maintained my viewpoint that the storm wasn’t that bad. I imagined that if I was able to land at Newark Airport already then the storm had fizzled out and the Eastern seaboard was spared from mass destruction. My parents picked me up from the airport, as planned, and we headed back to their house. Usually the drive from the airport to Green Village takes about 20 minutes‚Ķ but this time it took us over an hour.

As we drove, I start to realize that the damage is real. There are trees scattered across the roads, on people’s homes and we were not able to take a normal route. We snaked through neighborhoods searching for an open road to take us home. It wasn’t easy finding a way through the debris. We got home to a dark house. Come to think of it, New Jersey was ‘missing’ from the airplane’s point of view. The neighborhoods and businesses that usually radiated light were extensively dark from the air. But this is NJ, USA‚ĶCertainly, soon we’ll have power and everything will return to normal.

People who witnessed Hurricane described that night as pure terror. They were trapped inside their houses wondering if the roof would blow away or if they would be crushed by the towering oak tree outside their window. One neighbor described the sound of the wind outside as ‘like a freight train.’ Alone in her home, she crawled into a small closet space for comfort. My mom reported that the trees outside were ‘bending like blades of grass’ as they were tossed about by the hurricane force wind. There were “eerie lights in the sky from transformers exploding and power lines shorting out.” Each person I met had a similar story to tell me. People were legitimately scared for their lives. The drama was not an exaggeration.

The days started to roll by. Still no power. New Jersey was starting to feel like a forgotten place. It was dropping below freezing at night so we were cold. If you could make it to the grocery store, the food was running out. We ran out of propane gas so we had to cook outside on a fire. That part seemed fun, like a family camping trip, but it got really old soon enough. Due to a closed refinery and closed off transportation, gasoline was not available. People were fighting over it. Someone was so desperate that they stole a gas can from the basement of our local church. Phone lines were down, cell towers were non-functional. If you had a serious problem you wouldn’t have a way to call out for help. Things were looking grim. I wished I was back in Wyoming where life was happening on like usual.

Although it was a lot of extra work and some inconvenience at my parent’s house, many other areas of New Jersey and New York are in much greater trouble. There are areas that were swept away by flooding. Places with no fresh water to drink. There were people alone with no one to help them. Some people really did loose everything. I was wrong about Hurricane Sandy.

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