Sandy

First things first: I’m fine. My family is fine. Our house, the one I share with my sister, fine. We got power back after five days; the worst damage we suffered was a ripped porch screen and a neighbor’s fence in our yard and a lot of branches to pick up in the yard. The house where my sister used to live? Had a huge tree crash into its second story.

We are lucky, lucky, lucky. Even knowing that, I’m going to give a mini whine: being without power in October/November stinks. It is not fun. It is not a great opportunity to play board games. It is not a time to read books. It is a time of watching your food go bad. It’s a time of figuring out how to heat your house. One of the best tips: keeping a boiling pot of water, carefully watched, on the stove, using the lid to control the steam escape. See what I did there, though, that indicates a level of privilege we had during the power outage? Yes: we had water. We have a gas stove, so we could use the burners to make hot food. And yes, our hot water heater is the type that kept making hot water. So, lucky, lucky, lucky.

Board games and book? Well, with the way the external light was, there was limited daylight time. Even then, though, so lucky, because with a house with windows on all four sides we did pretty good with having daylight. I can imagine, some homes — apartments, condos — didn’t have that much daylight they could make use of. So that was the best time to cook or clean, inside or outside. That was the time, because it was light out, to go out to try to track down food or water or ice or gas or to just get out to see what was happening, and there were no lights or streetlights or traffic lights, and wires and trees were in the roads, so, again, it had to be done during the daylight.

Candles and flashlights — well, we used candles despite the recommendation against candles because of fire risks. And we had flashlights and battery powered candles and some book-lights, battery powered, but the light from that is hardly the best. We had a ton of batteries but even then, you want to be careful, right? And not run out. Plus, when it’s that dark outside, and inside, with just those lights, it “feels” late sooner. Eight at night felt like midnight.

And as for keeping in touch with the world — yes, the iPhone and iPad and laptop and Nook were all charged. And my external battery for my iPhone. AT&T was terrible and inconsistent until Friday morning, so it was next to impossible to find out what was going on with other people, with family and friends, and who was safe. Because my iPad has 3G I could use that to email and access the Internet so that was a tremendous help, except for the battery issues. I, like many, ended up sitting in my car charging devices. Which was also a way to have a quick blast of heat and to listen to the radio. Even then, look at the luck: an iPad with 3G. A car with an almost full tank of gas. A way to charge the devices. This created something really weird: limited access to news, so having very little idea of what was going on.

I was scheduled to go to the YALSA YA Lit Symposium; my Thursday flight from Newark was cancelled and rescheduled to Sunday night. I was somehow able to make a call to the airlines that lasted long enough to reschedule to Friday. How to get to the airport was a bit tricky — because of gas, because of public transportation being down, but I made it and got to the airport early to enjoy hot food, heat, and a place to charge devices. And the first thing I did when I got to St. Louis was take a hot shower, because while I had hot water, it was stepping out into a cold house with a wet head of hair so to be able to dry my hair? Wonderful.

I was even luckier because while I was gone, the power came back.

The power is back for me, but Sandy is hardly over. There are the simple parts of trees being down and the destruction they caused, and the power still out for so many, and the loss of houses and the houses that have to be fixed. There are possessions lost. There are jobs lost, and people out of work. As I said, I’m lucky, but many in New Jersey and New York are not.

Here is just a start on some resources for both information and for helping. I’ll be honest: this list is Jersey centric. I live at the Jersey Shore, I grew up on the Jersey Shore — the shore of Ocean and Monmouth counties. I’m looking at photos of places I’ve lived, worked, visited, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s places where family and friends live. There’s still places that people haven’t been able to go back to, so there are still question marks about what damage has been done.

Have other links? Including for New York? Please leave them.

The Community Foodbank of New Jersey

YA for NJ, organized by Kieran Scott

American Red Cross

Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

The Asbury Park Press is the local paper; great coverage, photos, and videos including how to help

The radio station New Jersey 101.5 also has good coverage and resources

The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties

And information about New Jersey libraries, including status and resources etc.:

New Jersey State Library

New Jersey Library Association

and please note the New Jersey Association of School Librarians Fall Conference in Long Branch, NJ is still on; registration ends November 16. One way to support libraries, librarians, and local businesses is to still attend events like this.

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The photos are mine from the day after the storm. They are the Atlantic Ocean; a local road; and the house where my sister used to live.

Blog the Vote

Better late than never, right?

Originally, this was supposed to get posted on November 2, as part of Chasing Ray’s Blog the Vote¬†blog series.

It’s not that I didn’t believe that Sandy would be as bad as everyone said; it’s just that in pre-Hurricane planning, finalizing the draft post I had prepared got put on a back burner, and, well, excuses, excuses, and here, on Election Day, is my post, finally. But first, on Monday, Colleen rounded up the Why I Vote posts from the book blogosphere at the Why I Vote Round-Up.

Here’s the thing. Between then and now, the “why” in Why I Vote changed for me. I was going to blog (as others did in the round up) about the importance of voting, the importance of government, how close elections can be, how historically some people were prevented from voting.

Then, Hurricane Sandy happened. As some of you may know, I’m from the Jersey Shore. I grew up in Ocean and Monmouth counties; I currently live just under two miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

While I hope to write a more detailed post about what’s going on around here, I’ll say that I’m safe & sound, as is my family, as is my house. However, there are family and friends that are not so fortunate, whose homes were damaged by flooding or wind, or whose businesses were hurt.

So, why do I vote?

I vote because one of the many things people asked after Sandy was, where do I vote? Is it the same place? If we still can’t get into our towns, where do we go to vote? Where now? They want to vote, and will do anything and everything they can to exercise that right, even though they are still without power, or can’t go home, or have no homes to go to. Even though the clean clothes are running out and there is no heat and there is gas rationing and there is a nor’easter is predicted for tomorrow.

People are voting.

Why do I vote? Why did I vote? Because I can. Because it’s important. Because it matters.