Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Jersey on My Mind

Frankenstorm Sandy didn't blow out my windows, uproot my trees, or cut power to my house. Its path didn't veer within a thousand miles of my home in Texas. Why then am I writing about the hurricane-turned-nor'easter?

To tell you it knocked out my ability to focus 

Small loss, you say. 

I can't argue that point. In hard-hit New Jersey, houses toppled, water filled streets, and bridges washed away. Who am I to complain about loss of focus?

Yesterday morning, I edited twenty pages before I turned twitchy and had to flip on The Weather Channel.  Whoa! A reporter is wading through knee-deep water. Hoboken is flooded, Sayreville's a mess, and Atlantic City is on its knees. 

My parents, brother and sisters, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, nephews, and friends live in the Garden State. They're fine, and their houses are undamaged. Lack of power is their only problem, and they're quick to call themselves lucky.

They can call themselves lucky all day long--I'll still worry.

I take a break from editing to gather two, no, three pieces of publishing-industry news for a column before I Google the power company in Bloomfield, my hometown. Has the company listed what repairs it's tackling by area or street? No. 


I write two and a half pages before my youngest sister texts me to say my parents are cold and she's making them soup.

My parents are cold. Shootshootshoot. I return to editing because my brain's no longer capable of original thought. Oh, oh, President Obama is touring the Jersey Shore. I click on a link that takes me to a speech he gave in Brigantine. 

I visualize my parents wearing multiple sweaters and force myself to edit another fifteen pages. Hey! Maybe Amazon sells a mini-generator big enough to power a space heater. I click on Amazon. Uh oh. Everybody in the sixteen states affected by Frankenstorm has had the same idea. Generators big and small, Coleman lanterns, and other survivalist supplies are on backorder.

My brother-in-law, Mr. Preparedness, texts me to say he's fed up. No-o-o-o. If Mr. P is fed up, how will ordinary Jerseyans cope?

My youngest sister texts me again. "We got The Star Ledger today and now know the devastation across the state. Heartbroken."

I remember long-ago summer rentals in Ortley Beach, Point Pleasant, and Lavalette, and my heart hurts, too. Then I reopen the file I'm supposed to be editing.

Gah! I have a blog post due tomorrow and nothing to write about.  I open my file of blog ideas. Everything in it stinks.  

Uh oh, Hubs just walked in the door. Why's he frowning? A friend since high school emailed him to say their home town, Belmar, is under water. Hubs doesn't believe it and fires up his iPad. 

On The Weather Channel, West Virginia residents are shoveling snow. OMG! Thank God New Jersey doesn't have to contend with snow.

I check with a high school friend on Facebook to see how she fared during Sandy. A college friend's husband is on Facebook, so I send him a message, too. 

"Belmar flooded." My husband shakes his head in disbelief. "I knew the boardwalk washed away, but flooding?" 

It's Halloween night, so our evening is punctuated by little Darth Vaders and princesses. Mostly though, it's memories of home that short circuit our concentration. 

My youngest sister texts to say power might not be restored to our parents' house for fourteen days. I read the message aloud to Hubs. 

"Invite them here," he says.

"They won't come."

"You don't know that."

"I know my father."

"Invite them anyway."

I tap out a message to my sister, asking her to convince our parents to fly to Houston. 

"You're funny," she writes back.


No way will I get any more editing done this evening. I'm about to head for bed when I remember the blog post due today. See what I mean about Sandy taking out my focus?

What to blog about? What to blog about?

Shoot.  I've got nothing.


Christine said...

Great post,

I'm relieved to hear your family are safe and well. I have friends in the garden state and they're fine too.

Makes me wonder what I have to moan about too, Pat!

cleemckenzie said...

I totally understand your post. I spent most of the time worrying about friends back east and waiting for them to check in!

Wanted to stop in and thank you for visiting The Write Game this week. Hope you'll come by again!

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I couldn't stop checking the pictures on the news, either! And I don't even have family/friends in the hardest-hit areas - the closest are in Albany NY and DC, and they're fine. In SW Ohio, we just had high winds. Some people lost power, and my husband had firewood stacked on the porch just in case. I hope your parents find a way to stay warm - or better yet, make that trip to Texas!

Lark Howard said...

Sorry to hear your family is still without power. Do they at least have fireplaces? We thought our 100 degree temperatures without AC after Ike were bad. The cold weather is much worse!

My BIL's best friend and his wife lost their house, restaurant, gift shop, rental house and storage building on Long Beach Island to flood waters. Luckily--or rather wisely--they evacuated to their daughter's place in Cherry Hill and are fine. Rebuilding one's entire life and livelihood is a scary prospect!!

Marcy Kennedy said...

I'm very sorry to hear how bad it is in your home town. I live in Southwestern Ontario, and the storm reached us. We feel very fortunate to only have lost some tree branches and part of our fence to the wind. We kept power and didn't have flooding. My heart goes out to those who faced much worse.

Ginger Calem said...

Oh goodness, I can only imagine your concern and you wanting to help. Why won't they visit you? I just want to wrap them up in our Texas heat.

Hang in there.

Sheila Seabrook said...

Oh Pat, you have me in tears. I know how hard it is to worry about our loved ones, but only when they're close by. It must be 1000 times harder when they're so far away and there's not a darn thing you can do to help them out. I hope you get to see them soon because I know you won't rest easy until you can give them a hug and hold their hands.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected, even people like you and Lark who may not be in the immediate zone, but your hearts are attached to those who are there.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Christine
Eventually, I break all the resolutions I make not to moan and complain. Sure, I'm on my best behavior now, but once everything's fine with my family, I'll find something to grouse about.

Glad your Garden State friends are fine. I'm hearing the coastline is irrevocably changed and that makes me sad.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, C. Lee!

Don't our friends back east know we're waiting for them to check in? Instead, they busy themselves clearing debris from roads and hunting for ice, charcoal, and diapers. Shoot. Where are their priorities?

For sure I'll revisit The Write Game. Thanks for dropping by here!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette,
Your husband has to meet my brother-in-law, although I'm not sure Mr Preparedness would have stacked wood on his porch if he lived in SW Ohio. It's your husband who won the preparedness test.

My parents haven't flown anywhere in five years. They're no longer able to make the long hike to a gate, and my dad's too proud to ride in a cart.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Oh, Lark, I'm sorry about your BIL's friends who lost their house--and livelihood. That puts my parents' lack of heat in perspective for me. (My mom and dad already had it in perspective and consider themselves super fortunate even as they put on another sweater.) No fireplaces for my parents, but my sister and BIL have one. Why didn't I remember that until now?

I wonder whether your BIL's friends will rebuild? Even some ardent shore lovers are acting as if they'll never again trust the sea.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Gah, Marcy. The storm didn't honor any borders, did it? Glad you were spared the worst, but what a punch Sandy packed! He sideswiped you in Ontario and Jennette in Ohio.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Ginger! You said it best: I want to wrap my parents in Texas heat. Unfortunately, travel would discombobulate them more than Sandy did.

If Houston endures a hurricane in 2013, I want you and Lark to remind me that it's better to be without power when it's hot. I believe that, but the knowledge won't keep me from whining if a Texas outage lasts more than a couple of days.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Sheila,
I'm going to visit my parents next month and am counting the days.

I didn't mean to make you cry.

Lynette M Burrows said...

Pat, I'm watching Hurricane Sandy: Come Together. I am glad your parents weren't flooded, but I'm so sorry for the huge losses their home area suffered. Hugs. I hope they have power, or will get it very soon.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lynette! My brother, who lives about an hour from my parents, just got his power back. My youngest sister is driving my parents toward the heat now. I'm so relieved!

LynNerdKelley said...

I wouldn't be able to focus either, Pat. I watch the news and see all the devastation and I just want to cry. I worry about all those people dealing with the freezing nights and those who lost loved ones, those who lost their homes, those who are struggling to cope with their lives being turned upside-down. Shortage of water, food, gas, warmth. All the things we take for granted. It's heart wrenching. 14 days is a long time to go without power.
I just typed a long rant, then deleted it. I'm praying for those people. So sad. I'm glad your family is safe, Pat. Your parents should stay with you, but what can you do? Keep us posted. Take care.

Louise Behiel said...

I'm glad your family is health and relatively well, Pat. This is such a tragedy. It reminds me of much trauma. stay well.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lynn,
Selfishly, I'm glad I'm not the only one who wasn't able to focus last week--despite living far, far, from where the storm hit. I, too, typed and deleted a few rants.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Louise,
The lessons of Katrina are being applied in NJ/NY/Connecticut. It's little consolation to New Orleans, I know, but coordination among states and government entities is better in Sandy's aftermath because of what the world witnessed with Katrina.

Because of Katrina, people have more respect for the sneaky/fast way water can rise. They're more willing to evacuate.

The death toll was obscene in Katrina. If we didn't learn from it, those people died in vain.