On Monday evening, the sky was filled with shades of gray, increasingly becoming darker as the storm continuously approached. The winds were violent, forcing tree branches to sway out of control; moving in every direction possible. The rain trickled at first, and as the storm finally arrived, the rain began to flow like the Mississippi River and it had become completely apparent that Hurricane Sandy had finally landed in Jersey City.
At 9:59 PM, everyone who lived in my apartment building, including myself; lost power. A group of local residents, including my sister and I gathered in the front of our building to see the full effect the storm was having in our neighborhood, to see if anyone else in the community had lights. The only illuminations visible were the lights on police vehicles. Cop cars were driving up and down Montgomery Street making various announcements, urging residents to take shelter in their homes and to wait out the storm.
Curious, my sister and I walked to the corner of our block, and it was there that we saw what can only be described as a pond. Like instinct, our faces turned towards one another in shock and our curiosity was suddenly replaced with fear, and it prompted us to return home and wait out the storm. As the storm became worst, the crowd that once was gathered in front of the building had returned inside and assembled themselves on the first floor of my building.
I could hear them from my bedroom, joking and laughing about the current situation we were all in and among several other subjects, and it was there and then when I had decided to go to sleep. I awoke the next day in fear, but not because of the Hurricane, at the moment I had forgotten the whole ordeal. What frighten me was that I thought I was late for school, I rushed into my sister’s room and started to shake her, “Tina, we’re late for school!” I said in complete panic. She looked up at me, still half asleep and a bit confused, rubbing the coal out of her eyes and said, “So you plan on swimming there today?” And with a sense of relief, I sat beside my sister in her bed and exhaled.
I was utterly miserable reading Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse as a form of entertainment, so my sister and I knew that we could no longer stay in the house, regardless of the curfew that was in place. We wandered around looked for anything that resembled some sort of life, something normal, something with light. As we arrived at Grove Street our prayers were answered, we discovered life in the darkness. In front of the Duncan Donuts, we found a Taco truck, opened for business, and coincidently, it was also the only place my sister could get service to use her cell phone.
So while she got in contact with family members, informing them that we are ok, I stood on the extremely long line and waited to buy two steak burritos and a coke. We opted to share a coke because the vender decided to charge 10 dollars per burrito and I did not have enough cash on me. I found it uneasy how certain people could take advantage of others at a time like this, how ones greed can trump their morality. As human beings, our humanity should tell us to band together and help one another in desperate times, but instead, every so often, the worst part of a person rises to the surface.
Business owners have an obligation to the community they serve. Eddie Cotto Jr. , Owner and Executive Chef of MI CASA LLC brought light to his loses. Instead of throwing out all the food that was going to go bad he gave it to various members of the community, including myself. His loses estimated over $4,000 in revenue and food, and regardless of what he was faced with he did not mark up his prices and sell empanadas on the side of the street, he gave it away for free because he is aware that people are going through enough with the aftermath of the Hurricane.
The following day was Halloween, and several parents dressed up their children and began trick or treating but the turnout for Halloween was extremely slim due to Governor Chris Christie’s postponement until November 5. My mother, sister and I left early this morning in search of an open store and it was on Jersey Avenue where our lives were saved. A small bakery had a generator attached to several extension plugs, and people were charged only a dollar to charge whatever device they needed to be charged.
So as my mother and sister charged their life lines, I decided to get my face painted as a cat. As a way to keep myself from thinking how cold I was waiting for my mother and sister, I tried to lighten the moods of those around me by meowing and making various other noises I’ve heard my cat make at one point or another.
My final day in darkness ended on Thursday afternoon, and everything seemed to be getting back to normal, people were happy again. And as I turned on my television to receive reports on the rest of the East Coast I finally realized the true effect of the storm. I was horrified by the sights that appeared on my screen, people lost their houses, and people lost their lives. A sudden feeling of stupidity ran through me and I hated myself for complaining about not having hot water and lights, it seemed so petty compared to what everyone else had to endure.