My best friend at Cliffside Public School in Toronto was Brian Clark. (he was also a good friend of CBC's Rick Cluff). On September 11 2001, Brian was sitting in his World Trade Centre South Tower office when a plane struck the building. He was one of only four people in the South Tower to escape from a floor above the plane's impact. His heroic story can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Clark_%289/11_attacks_survivor%29
I mention this since Brian now lives in New Jersey in what I suspect is a very nice neighbourhood., When I witnessed the scenes of devastation in New Jersey on TV, I wrote to him, expressing my concern for him, his family and friends, especially since I knew he had already been through one incredible disaster. Today I received this response:
Thanks for your note of concern.
consider ourselves to be in the 'fortunate' group. We lost power only
for the first thirty hours but a huge area all around our neighbourhood
is still without electricity. At night, our street and two or three
around us look like islands in a sea of darkness. We don't quite
understand how this has occurred but we dare not question the facts.
our cable company has not yet recovered. That means we have no TV, no
Internet and no land-line phone. I have just come to my son Tim's
in-laws' home where they are running on a generator. Their cable service
is from a different provider so, for the first time since Sunday, I have connected to a wireless hub and can find out what is going on in the rest of the world.
residential streets around us are a mess. Detours are everywhere
around huge downed trees and power-lines. The damage in our area is
extraordinary and we are miles and miles from the Jersey Shore where the
property damage is even more extensive. In our area, things will
eventually get back to "normal" but the changes along the coastal area
will, in many cases, be permanent.
It's hard to fathom what life must be like for the many thousands of people who remain without power and all the other things we all take for granted four days after the storm hit. Somehow it hits closer to home when you know someone who's having to live through it.