A week ago, we drove with ease across Monmouth County in central New Jersey, and then back again before foraying out another direction and back. Such a drive would be impossible now that this county has been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. My family I visited and traveled with now face not just downed power lines, upturned trees and massive flooding on the road, but a lack of electricity in their homes. In the two places I grew up and just visited — central NJ and Brooklyn, NY — everything can and did change.
Throughout the day, I make phone calls, and go to one series of photos or videos or another, trying to make sure the people I love are okay and while aiming myself toward what I can’t comprehend from images, still or moving, alone. Seaside Heights, where we went to the big amusement park on the beach, was simply swallowed up. Ocean City and Asbury Park’s houses were caved in or busted apart. Someone in Tom’s River (a town, not a river, although the distinction may no longer matter) is kayaking down the main street. Long Beach Island, one of the barrier islands where we vacationed in Surf City when I was a teen, has been thoroughly wrecked by water and wind from all directions.
In the city (aka New York City), some of the places where Ken and I walked now would only be places to boat. Battery Park is deep underwater. Our favorite restaurant, Antica Venezia, on the west side of Greenwich Village, is very likely flooded. Ground Zero, various subways, parks and streets are so full of water it’s hard to imagine, from the pictures at least, how they’ll dry out (although they surely will).
My heart goes out to people who’ve lost their lifetimes of photos to water, homes to fire, and sense of safety and comfort to this massive storm. My memory goes in to the past, looking for the places that aren’t the same places anymore. My hope leans, just a little, toward the future although each house lost, each life unraveled or recast a new direction, will need far more than hope.