I’ve been surviving. Let me explain. Hurricane Sandy came to town and it has been a mess ever since.
We had a mandatory evacuation and left, moving in with my parents for two nights.
The damage in Monmouth County was extensive…horrific…tragic. We came home to see if we had power, but like millions in the tri state area, predictably, we did not.
So we froze. We moved back in to our place. Our neighbor didn’t leave our apartment complex and said it flooded, five feet of water engulfed our whole place. Car alarms went off one at a time as the water filled them up and totaled them. It was a mess. The crawlspaces under our apartment saved each apartment except two buildings which had flooding inside.
We were lucky, no water inside, but it came damn close. Up to our top stairs.
The perplexing thing is we live 100 feet from the river, we thought for sure this was what would flood us. We had prepared, all our valuables were taken out and moved. Our tv moved to our parents’ house, picture albums taken out in suitcases, important documents too. We filled garbage bags with litter and put them in front of our bedroom and front door. Just in case, it could mean all the difference… We took this storm seriously, unlike Irene. We had feeling it would be night and day to her.
Grateful we didn’t sustain damage, we realized how lucky we were. Had we not moved, we would still be living in Sea Bright. It was where we lived for a decade, our little beach town, now decimated by Sandy. Our city in ruins as Bruce sings. Where beach clubs were ripped up and thrown, some houses in sticks, only one in tact, but flood damage to all. Sand from the beach displaced to ocean avenue and cars tossed like magazine pages on a windy day.
We left Sea Bright because the ceiling of our rental caved in during Irene. Our landlord did a slipshod job at fixing it and we shudder to think what could’ve happened had we stayed. It’s an instant shot of gratitude anytime you need one.
Though Sea Bright is closed off by the national guard, we flashed our licenses with our Sea Bright addresses (licenses not changed yet) and they let us in. Two weeks ago, last week ago, we couldn’t go back if we wanted to.
Here are the horrible pics. I had to share them with someone, not sure about Facebook or Twitter, but here they are for you…
this is our old building, and it’s condemned. see below how the water line is up to the door.
” X ” marks condemned by FEMA.
alley behind our old apt.
another view of above bldg.
This is the front of the building above. Nothing inside… sad. I used to wave to the store owner all the time. If business was slow, he’d be outside rocking on his chair. He moved his store from Rumson to Sea Bright and it proved a bad move.
This was a home the last mayor of sea bright owned. It was a three family home. I hope no one was living here and they heeded the mandatory evacuation. It’s three blocks from our old apartment.
The public beach parking lot is now littered with army tents, the national guard, FEMA, police and volunteers.
This was my beach club for fifteen years. Those were the years…. running around the club. Going from the ocean, to the pool, to the ocean. Stopping in between to lie in the sand or stop in and get candy at the snack bar. Very little had been changed to it in forty years. Now it’s a pile of wood.
Ship Ahoy beach club, next to Sands. Neither did well…
Our poor Sea Bright. R.I.P.
Each day our routine was the same. We woke up cold, bundled up in coat, gloves, hat and scarf and headed out for our ice. Upon return to our place, we iced up our remaining food in our coolers, organized our candles and set up for our return later. Off we went for Carol’s, my aunt, in Monmouth Beach past the National Guard to work on her house. And each day we worked until dark, home in time for mandatory curfew at 7:00.
People began looting, it was expected. As we were glued to our am radio, we first heard of it in Rockaway, NJ. We watched the liquor store across the street and figured it would be the first to go. Sure enough, it was hit the third night. Cars circled around the lot until someone got up the courage and broke in. Thereafter people went in, like they were going in to their pantry for pretzels. We called the cops once, believing people were in there. Turns out it was an unmarked cop car. It was crazy: we were calling the cops on the cops. Things were out of control. They even looted the Welsh Farms.
With a foot of water in her house, three in her garage, she needed massive help in order to gut her house for the mold doctors to get rid the wet walls and floor. It was a big job, one that took many hands and 65 boxes. Seven days later, her crawlspace was dry, the boxes packed and the crew came in to take her walls down and floors up.
Exhaustion set in. And we still had another friend to help who had a wet garage to deal with. Meanwhile, our heat and electricity had still not come back. So each night we froze, bundled up in blankets in the forty degree weather. It felt bleak. And while the rest of the world watched the news, we listened. Only aware of the streets and towns around us, not having any idea, visually, of what devastation was around us.
Around the seventh day, there was a FEMA station built five minutes from us in the Monmouth Racetrack parking lot. We began to go there for our ice and water. Housing was set up there for folks who were helping from out of state. And there were families brought in from other shelters.
But then I took a mental hit. I began to go from healthy to the left side of crazy. It crept up on me, like the wrath of Sandy herself. Pressured speech, hard time sleeping, hard time eating. Most major signs were and are there. My partner noticed it first, and had to point it out to me. No matter how much awareness you may have about your illness, it is still often noticed first by your loved ones around you. And I am no different. I can sometimes notice a little speediness, but when it goes from zero to sixty and I’m distracted, it’s often the insight of someone else.
And so I’m a tad manic.
While I was busy helping my aunt, and worrying about myself and others, mania had packed a suitcase and headed for my place. It stayed, silently on the couch. Side by side, saying nothing until it’s presence was made known. And it sucks.
Now I have to pull back, take extra seroquel to sleep and have less time to help others. The garage of our friend will stay soggy longer. I have guilt over that, but there comes a time where you have to take care of yourself. And during a hurricane/storm of this magnitude, you are on a wheel of madness. When the wheel slows down, as your life returns to normalcy, it’s not easy to stop your brain at the same time.
The only thing I can say is i’m grateful to be home. I’m grateful i have loved ones who help me pinpoint mania has come to town, before it’s out of control. And I’m taking it easy.
When mania is here, and i’m on the right side of crazy, I have to stop my world a little while. Until I can get back to center. And that is part of the reason this is such a disruptive illness. It takes a giant time out to get well again. This is one of the main components of our illness that people fail to understand. It’s okay, I don’t understand everything about diabetes or cancer.
It’s accepted people can’t work because they are having chemo. It’s not accepted that people aren’t able to work because they have to take care of themselves and get back to wellness. And rest, reducing stress and often relaxation at home is one of our medicines when mania has arrived. This is when people mistake laziness for a prescription for wellness with our illness. And it sucks.
The number one reason people don’t understand our illness is they don’t have it. I can’t fault people for that. But I can fault them for not trying. Especially those who love me. I have one relative who has “given up on me” in the words of my mother. I knew this many years ago and it hurts to the core. But I can’t change other people.
Regarding hurricane Sandy, the jersey shore will recover. Not as fast as me unfortunately. It will take years and we will never be the same. Fortunately, though, I will bounce back much faster.