Hurricane Sandy leaves state without power, hope
Column | Weighing In
Around 7:20 pm last Monday evening, I sat on my couch talking on the phone as the storm raged around me. Within the next minute, I'm fumbling around the living room, bumping into everything imaginable to get to my flashlight and light some candles. That was my first night without power, which would continue until around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. A few days in the dark and cold is nothing compared to what many have suffered and are still suffering through. Once my power came back on I was able to see the devastation throughout both New Jersey and New York on the news. Many have lost homes as well as all their belongings, not to mention the countless others who have lost their lives. I now look at my powerless days as nothing more than a nuisance that I'm happy was my only issue.
New Brunswick and the surrounding areas are still in the midst of cleaning up and trying to get power to everyone. As I drove down the streets of Somerset and New Brunswick it was surreal seeing the amount of damage the storm actually caused. Even though we had a few fallen branches in our yard, it didn't compare to all the uprooted trees, downed wires and flooding in many of these neighborhoods. Streets remain closed in some areas and there are still some stoplights that aren't working, making you wonder if an accident is bound to happen. As I walked down the aisles of Stop and Shop, not one ounce of milk or water could be found. Batteries were sought out everywhere as well as any ATM that would actually dispense money. Pictures on Facebook showed the countless bags of food thrown out and areas where the ground is no longer visible due to the rising waters. Boyd Park in New Brunswick was unrecognizable. Gas has become a hard commodity to come by, and if you find a gas station, you're likely to wait twenty minutes to an hour just to fill your tank. Our own school closed and many students left without power.
With all these things comes one of the ongoing items of discussion amongst residents and businesses in both states. Are FEMA, government officials and utility companies doing all they can to help everyone? According to some residents, they're not. It seems they are doing a lot to help through this, but for those who are still without power and the displaced, it’s not nearly enough. FEMA is constantly criticized especially after the fiasco of Katrina. They've learned a valuable lesson from Hurricane Katrina though and as such, were well prepared for Hurricane Sandy before it hit. Water, clothing, shelter and other necessities have been provided by the agency. There has also been funding available from FEMA as well as the federal government to help rebuild our state and those whose home have been destroyed. Obama even made an appearance to the Garden State to see the damage and pledge to make sure everything is done to see to the rebuilding (whether that's for votes for Tuesday's election is anybody's guess). I don't believe our government or FEMA could be doing anything beyond what they are already doing. They've been tending to the needs of the countless people who have suffered and continue to do
Utility companies, such as PSE&G are another matter. They seem to be dragging their feet. As of a few days ago, there were still some two million customers without power within New Jersey and New York. People are being told their power will be on in two days and when those two days has gone by, they are told a few days more. This constant back and forth is one of the things that are frustrating. No food, heat, or electricity is no way to live and with temperatures getting progressively colder, something needs to be done by these companies to ensure customers are no longer suffering. Although my time without electricity didn't last as long, I was miserable during that period and can only imagine what those who are still in the dark or without homes are going through. The power companies are making claims to have power restored within about two weeks, but we'll have to see if this is the case. Christie advises that they must uphold their deadline or else. What that may mean is anyone's guess, but if he can get them to commit to their deadline, there will be a lot of happy people.
Courtney Averette is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. Her column, “Weighing In,” runs on alternate Fridays.