It’s been a long couple of weeks working on the streets and debris piles in Seaside Heights. Sadness, pain, and loss cut through every minute of the day, no matter what you do or where you go. The level and depth of destruction in this beach community is staggering. You can be moved to tears throughout the day when you see the tattered remains of peoples’ lives and memories in piles along the curb or loaded into the backs of trucks on their way to dump sites. People put down roots here and raised families and built lives that had value and meaning, and now it’s all gone. That sadness hangs on everything.
You see and hear about tragedies and natural disasters on the news, and for many people it hurts about as long as it takes to change the channel to “Dancing With The Stars”, “Storage Wars”, or some other idiotic reality show. Life takes over for most of us and returns to normal, even with the best of intentions. But for people up and down the Jersey coast (as well as in the Rockaways and Staten Island), life can’t just “go on”. Not when everything you spent a lifetime building is gone like it never happened or was never there.
But what comes back at me day after day, no matter who you meet, is the unwavering belief and conviction that we will rebuild. That nothing will stand in our way – tough odds and hard work are no match for the kind of strength, resiliency, and toughness the people in this state own. Through the pain comes hope, strength, and courage. Like a boxer in the late rounds of a fight, we took everything Hurricane Sandy had to give and we’re still on our feet, throwing jabs and punching our way out of trouble. We may be down, but it’s only a temporary thing.
Nothing can keep us down.
That’s the real lesson from the debris piles.