Sandy took the past, changes the future

On The Way
By Olivia Fowler

Prior to Hurricane Sandy, the small amount of information I thought I knew about New Jersey was gleaned from experiences in the Newark airport which were less than pleasant, a general rudimentary and mixed bag of trivial information from several televised sources, and the occasional news story.

The only member of my family who spent any time in Atlantic City was my Uncle Walter, who won a dance contest there sometime prior to WWII and kept the tuxedo he wore while tripping the light fantastic packed in mothballs in the attic of my grandmother’s house.

Even though we spent a few hours watching the approach of Sandy and listening to the dire predictions on the Weather Channel, we were still shocked by the aftermath. We didn’t think a Category 1 storm was that big a deal. But Sandy surprised us.

And the devastation of the state of New Jersey is heart-wrenching to see. Not only was the shoreline altered to the point of being beyond recognition, homes were lost. Neighborhoods were lost. People were left with nowhere to live.
I will never forget our disbelief and distress when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and we sat spellbound as the unbelievable events unfolded. It hurt to see the horrible suffering and the lack of action, but we were unable to look away. After three days of watching American citizens in our own country who needed help and who were not getting it, I cried when General Russell L. Honore came to the rescue.

The situation in New Jersey, New York and other less densely populated states is horrible, but how thankful we are that there is an immediate and comprehensive response to this disaster.

In the midst of the loss there is a bright light. We Americans are not perfect. We acknowledge our flaws and quirks. But in time of trouble there are no greater people on Earth. We never give up and we never fail to give. Over and over again we see it. We care about each other and we will help each other. Strangers reach out to feed the hungry, house the homeless and carry people to safety.

There will be some dark days ahead, and many states will struggle in deciding how to gear up for the future. We expect the experience will drastically alter how coastal development is managed. Perhaps some long-term solutions will be found to deal with the aging and sometimes fragile infrastructure of our country.
No matter how difficult our circumstances, we don’t quit. We go forward, learn from tragedy and transform the future with the lessons learned. Starting over after Sandy will be no different.