by Christopher Halleron
**Here’s a reprint of a blog post written in the days after Sandy hit, followed by a collection of images taken before, during and after Superstorm Sandy hit Hoboken on October 29, 2012.***
First of all, I have nothing to complain about personally—I have maintained electricity, cable, wifi, phone, heat and water throughout. By some miraculous utility grid anomaly, I am the “One Percent.” If this is the only lottery I ever win in life, I’ll still be happy.
The rest of Hoboken is literally a disaster area. Words fail and pictures cannot fully convey the magnitude of personal loss in the wake of the flood.
Of course there are two kinds of people in this world—the people who get it and the people who don’t. My building has been running a “charging station,” which entails simply putting a pair of powerstrips outside for people to charge their phones. In meeting those individuals in need, you can really tell the difference in POV.
There was the woman who was genuinely pissed off because she couldn’t get good coffee, there was the man who blamed the Mayor for not stopping the flood, there was the other woman who took up three spots on the powerstrip to charge her son’s Nintendo DS—until I noticed that was what she was charging and told her to remove it so someone actually in need could charge a phone to contact loved ones.
But then there was the girl bawling on my doorstep because she has lost her home, and the man who spent days at the charging station trying to reach his elderly father in a Queens nursing home—only to learn that he had passed away.
There are those who are overwhelmingly grateful for simple access to electricity, and there are those who sit there and do office work while others wait in line. Elsewhere, there is a stark contrast in how people are dealing with this. One business is serving free food to anyone in need, while another is charging $40 for a large pizza (typically $17). But the reports of neighborly kindness far outweigh the rumors of despicable activity—at least for now.
The rolling restoration of power to more and more areas has begun to ease a building tension. As Hobokenites walk the fine line between vigilant and vigilante, talk of looting has typically been met with, “I f**king dare them to come.” It seems there won’t be a lot of soft targets in this part of Jersey.
So I’ll spare you the lengthy, saccharin pep talk—bottom line is that this will take a while, so pull together. When you look back on this, you’ll want to be proud of how you reacted.
Make no mistake—Hoboken has been one of the “Ninth Ward” stories of this event, but the damage is so widespread and help is needed everywhere. When Anderson Cooper returns to his studio, when the National Guard pull out, and when it gets back to business as usual, remember those who helped you, and remember those who wronged you.
Despite all the tremendous outside effort we’ve received so far, no one is going to magically fix this for us—so get to work.