Like much of New Jersey, my home was without power for several days as Hurricane Sandy came barreling through Princeton like a raging monster, scattering limbs and destruction along her path. Trees that stood several stories high toppled over like building blocks. This one, whose roots uplifted, crashed into a house across the street -
another pummeled a car at the end of the block.
The Jersey shore, a special summer retreat for so many from the region, was devastated by the hurricane's fury, and it may take a long time before those towns impacted by Sandy bear any resemblance of their former glory.
But in most cases, houses, cars, boardwalks and amusement rides can be replaced. People cannot. Sadly, Hurricane Sandy claimed 80 lives, including Princeton's William Sword Jr., who survived a stabbing by an intruder in 2004, only to be killed in his yard when a tree fell and crushed him after the storm.
One of the positive things to come from the storm took place in New Jersey too, as our Republican governor, Chris Christie and President Obama, a democrat, seemed to be focused only on how to get our state back on track, not on partisan politics. If only Congress would take note and behave accordingly. Wouldn't it be great if all that money going to political ads for Tuesday's vote, went instead to help those who lost their homes during the storm?
I was luckier than most. I have been traveling in France and Italy for the past three weeks and returned yesterday, to a home that now has electricity and heat, and no damage. I am grateful to my neighbors - a special thank you to John, Insung, Sherry and Gerard, who secured my outdoor furniture, checked my basement for water, and generally kept an eye on things for me while I was gone. “It takes a village,” as the saying goes, and I am blessed to live in a village and a neighborhood where people really do lend a hand to help each another.
If you want to help with a donation, President Obama said today that the best way to help those affected is to donate to the Red Cross. But if you want to volunteer in other ways, click here to find a list of places that need your help in New Jersey and in New York, including Staten Island and the Rockaways, two communities that were hard hit.
Starting soon, I will be posting about some of the food, wine and beautiful sights I have seen during my trip. But today, I want to dedicate this post to all those who are volunteering their time and energy to help their neighbors clean up from the aftermath of the storm, and offer a hot shower, a warm meal or a place to sleep while they get back on their feet.