In some places the water was 4-5 feet deep.
Some of our favorite bars and restaurants were destroyed, and grocery stores were damaged and left without power for days. We haven't seen working street lights since Monday, the few gas stations that are open have crazy long lines, and any business that's open is running on generators and only accepting cash.
Saddest of all, Seaside Heights - the town in which Matt and I and many of friends spent the better part of our 20s, the town where Matt and I had our first apartment, and where my sister-in-law and her husband still live - was ripped to shreds.
We were left without power for about a week, but I am so thankful that we are safe and all our loved ones are safe. I'm thankful that Riker got to go on the rides on that boardwalk before it was taken from us. I feel so lucky our home was spared and left undamaged. I'm grateful to all the first responders and power lineman who are risking their safety and working 16 hour days - sometimes living in hotels or shelters away from their families - and all the volunteers and lineman who are coming from around the country to help make our homes warm and our towns safe again. Most of all, I'm in awe of the way our communities have come together during this devastating time.
Here's a glimpse of our week in Toms River.
We played games by lamp light....and Matt kicked my butt in Monopoly.
We took walks and surveyed the damaged roads and trees down (this looks like an off-road path now, but it's actually a main road).
We have a gas stove, so I was able to cook by candles and lamplight to try to use up fresh veggies and things that would go bad without refrigeration. We still ended up having to throw out nearly an entire fridge and freezer worth of food, but we did our best.
I could barely see, and couldn't really tell what our mushroom ravioli dinner looked like until I took a picture with a flash, but it came out pretty tasty!
We ate by candlelight, which was actually quite nice.
For the first few days after the storm, no one had power and we felt a little cut off from the outside world even though we were spending time all together (no power and no heat can make you a little stir crazy unless you have some company). On Wednesday my friend Heather got power back, so we spent some time at her house. She and her husband Kevin fed us, gave us showers, and let us do laundry and watch the storm footage on TV. We had a lot of fun all together, it was like old times in college. Halloween was canceled by us, so we also "Trick or Treated" with her daughter Delia in the living room. I don't think D minded. :)
Then Matt's parents got power back, so we moved in with them for a few days so I could work remotely (the buses don't resume service to the city until Monday) and we could stay warm. We were very thankful for our friends and family taking care of us this week!
Our power came back on yesterday, so now we're home and trying to get back to normal, and now it's our turn to help those still in need. We're pulling together donations for the shelters, and Matt's been helping friends rip out flood-damaged floors and walls. Friends have been stopping by to take showers, get a hot meal, use the Internet and charge their phones. Sadly Matt's sister and her husband lost their home in Seaside, so last night they moved a bunch of their things to our house and they'll be splitting their time between here and his parents' house until they figure out what to do. Many other families are in the same boat right now, but we can't complain since everyone made it through the storm safely.
I hope you and yours made it through the storm safely as well, and if you are fortunate enough to still have your home, please consider donating to help those who were not so lucky. Here's a link where you can donate to local shelters: http://www.nj211.org/
hurricane.cfm#volunteer. The Red Cross is also accepting monetary donations to help Sandy victims.
It's going to take us a long time to rebuild and right now it feels like Sandy is the only thing any of us can think or talk about, but we know it will get better. We know that the Jersey Shore will be beautiful again, and New York will be majestic again too. I'm looking forward to helping in the effort to get our friends and family back in their homes and restore beauty to our wonderful state. Stay safe, friends!