I got a little busy last week and intended to catch up on posting this week. Then we had a hurricane and it was bad. It was really bad. And the aftermath, well that’s really bad too.
I rarely talk about anything personal on this blog because it’s a food blog, but right now I’m heartbroken and I just can’t separate that from the rest of my life.
First I want to tell you this; everyone I love is safe and that is the absolute most important thing and certainly what I’m most grateful for. I live uptown, in an area far above sea level so we never lost power sustained very little damage. If only rest of the city had fared that well.
New York is a city that wears its emotions on its sleeve. Unfortunately, as I walked the streets the day after the storm what I felt was a palpable sadness that hung over the city like a fog. Huge chunks of lower Manhattan are still without power and there are elderly people stuck in homes still waiting to be checked on, our subways were flooded and have only just started running limited service, the backup generator at NYU Medical Center failed and patients had to be evacuated at the height on the storm. Manhattan is a mess, but there are so many areas that are doing even worse.
The Rockaways, just off of Brooklyn though actually part of Queens, lie on a narrow spit of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay. The towns on the Rockaway Peninsula have been decimated. You’ve likely seen images of Breezy Point on TV. First the ocean rose up an met the bay, submerging the whole of the Peninsula. Then on Breezy Point, a beach community of only 5000, a fire started and due to the high winds it spread… and spread… and spread. Because of the flood conditions firefighters could barely get in to the Rockaways and it took them all night and in to the morning to extinguish it. When the damage was done 110 houses were destroyed. That’s 110 houses in a town of only 5000 people. I have family and friends in the Rockaways and so far no word on how any of their homes fared so for now all I can do is pray for them.
Then there’s my home, New Jersey. Yes, it’s been a long long time since I’ve lived there, but when someone says the word home I still think of New Jersey first because it is the place that made me. Seeing my home in pain kills me. Thankfully my parents are fine and their home sustained no damage, but their entire town is still without power and heat. We have no idea when the power will return so they’re bunking up at in my 250 sq foot apartment while I crash at a friend’s place 2 blocks away, but clearly we are fortunate. The Jersey Shore didn’t get off so easy. I see footage of boardwalks I went to as a kid to win prizes, buy orangeade and eat salt water taffy destroyed. Entire chunks of boardwalk were torn off their foundations and now sit in the middle of beaches. I watch these people, my people, being rescued from houses frightened and shocked and it feels like a punch to the gut.
I see all of these images and I am irrationally angry. It’s the kind of anger you feel when a loved one dies. It is senseless and frustrating because you don’t know where to put it, but you just can’t shake it.
If you asked me what quality of character growing up in this area has most instilled in me, I wouldn’t even need to think before answering, resiliency. In NYC and the metro areas we just do, we just keep on. It is simply accepted that things will go back to normal and life go. Life goes on.
Thank you to all the unbelievable first responders who have worked tirelessly before, during and after the storm and thank you for the maintenance workers and the MTA workers who are getting things up and running again. Thanks also for all the wonderful messages we’ve been receiving from people in other parts of the country and the world.
If you live in NYC remember to thank your building staff who left their own families at home and came to work during a hurricane. Since I have a rule that all posts on this blog must have some mention of food I’ll leave you with this image of how I thanked my building staff, trust me it was the least I could do.