Okay, so you've heard it from 100 different sources by now, but the fact is, Hurricane Sandy/Superstorm Sandy/Frankenstorm/Stormzilla barrelled through the east coast of the U.S., laying siege to much and doing so much damage that the hyperbole machine in television news was left bereft of superlatives to overuse.
Suffice it to say, this storm had a particular vendetta for my home state, aiming straight for the Jersey Shore, apparently unaware that this was going to be the last season for Snooki and The Situation anyway, and it needn't have bothered.
The roller coaster on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, depicted on the cover of OLD HAUNTS, is no longer there; it was last seen headed toward Great Britain, where it has no doubt heard antiquated amusement rides are treated well based on the testimony of a really big Ferris wheel.
Millions of people lost electrical power. I was among them, but we were lucky: Ours stayed off for only two days. Many have had it much worse, losing the ability to communicate, to work, to eat. People are without drinkable water. People are without homes. Trees toppled--they didn't just lose branches; they fell over. Onto houses, cars, people. The death toll is rising.
Don't get me started on the gasoline thing.
On the upside, the candle industry will no doubt see a surge, as will the flashlight business, the canned foods business and the board game business. I have a greater appreciation for the Amish than ever before, and I only had to live like that for 46 hours.
This is not to make light of people's suffering; many have been devastated. If there's a place to which you can donate (see Erin's post here), please do--a lot of New Jerseyans, New Yorkers and people in 18 other states (!) need help. Whole lives, even when no one was injured, were swept away. The entire coastline in New Jersey and on Long Island is in tatters; I saw cars encased in sand, buildings demolished by trees, beach erosion, boardwalks disappeared. People who made their living amusing the tourists during the summer season are going to have to decide if it's worth rebuilding, or if they have to join the large numbers of unemployed already trying to navigate a hideous job market.
Until last week, I agreed with Chris Christie perhaps only on the proposal that his name was Chris Christie (although I still find that a little dubious). But he did what a governor should do in a crisis like that--and it was an unprecedented crisis in New Jersey--he looked out for the people of his state and let nothing else distract him. Kudos, governor, and don't ever expect me to say that again.
What last week proved is that you can't assume anything. You can't plan confidently, assured that your blueprint is foolproof. You can't ever figure that you control every aspect of your life. We have been told time and again in the past week that Sandy (and can we get scarier names for these storms--who's afraid of Sandy?) was not an aberration--the new climate we've helped create will see to it that these monsters happen on a more frequent basis.
If there's something you've always want to do, do it. You don't know what's around the corner.
P.S. To our American readers: You might not have heard, but there's an election tomorrow. People on the Jersey Shore who have no electrical power are being allowed to vote online (without power?), by fax (see previous parenthetical statement), or bused to places where there is electricity so they can vote. You have no excuse. I'm not going to tell you who I think you should vote for unless you ask me, but I will say that you need to vote. Yes, you. Get your butt to the polls and cast a ballot. Yes. You.