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Hurricane Sandy Hits Home

Hurricane Sandy hits home for me—really close to home. I grew up on Sandy Lane, forty minutes from the sandy beaches that hurricane Sandy pounded a few days ago. For me and millions of other people, the Jersey shore is synonymous with summer. Whether your family took day-trips to a local beach or week-long vacations on LBI, the Jersey shore has been a second home for many of us, a home that has been washed away. The boardwalk at Seaside Heights—our teenage playground on cool summer nights—is gone. And now, in the calm after the storm, instead of hearing the click, click, click of wheels spinning on the boardwalk, silence hovers over mile after mile of debris.

We are, however, resilient creatures. Soon the buzz of chainsaws and the rumble of bulldozers will fill the air as we start cleaning up the mess. In a few months the crack of hammers driving nails into plywood will echo up and down the coast. And before we know it, the click, click, click will be back on the boardwalk again. In the end, the Jersey shore will be bigger and better than ever before, and we will unconsciously thumb our noses at the forces of nature, proclaiming our resolve to build and rebuild whatever we want, wherever we want.

This post, though, is not about our resiliency or our ability to transcend our differences and come together for a common cause (although that makes for a nice story). This post is about the small window of time between the end of a disaster and the beginning of recovery—a window through which we catch a glimpse of reality and are reminded of what it means to be human.

You see, in the calm after the storm we stare in disbelief, trying to wrap our minds around the landscape of destruction. In surveying the wreckage we are overwhelmed by the reality of how small we truly are. This realization can be unnerving, causing some to scurry, frantically trying to “fix it,” hoping to regain the illusion of control; while for others, this realization is a helpful reminder that we are only human and that we are never, ever, truly in control. This humbling realization is what causes people to thank God after surviving a natural disaster, and why, for at least a few days, their hugs are a little tighter, their kisses last a little longer, and their words, “I love you,” flow with a little more heart.

So if Hurricane Sandy pounding the Jersey shore hits home for you, I would like to encourage you to visit the coastline sometime in the next few months—before it’s bigger and better—because it will never be the same. And if you’re able to look across the landscape of destruction and get past the unnerving realization of how small you truly are, I promise you’ll gain a renewed sense of what it means to be human: you’ll reminisce about the good times you’ve had there in the past, you’ll be grateful for the life you have today, and you’ll look forward to the memories yet to come.

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About Leon Hayduchok

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