Probably you see the signs too, it is hard to miss. New Jersey, Stronger Than The Storm. They are all over, but I noticed them first on the Garden State Parkway, the place where I travel to get to my beach house in Ocean Beach 3, nestled between both communities where Super-storm Sandy hit the hardest, Mantoloking and Ortley Beach.
But there is an unmistakable sadness in the wake of the destruction. On my short block, there are 6 houses missing, some reduced to a pile of rubble on a cement slab, waiting for the workers to return to cart it away. Al, who was there to watch one cottage be taken down, says the crunching sound lasts two hours and then the house is gone. Other houses are unoccupied because either the owners can't afford to rebuild or there is too much demand for work, and they are closer to the bottom of the list. These are interesting facts but these people are my neighbors. The empty houses belong to my friends. Their houses, gutted and bare or missing, are places where I sat and ate and laughed and enjoyed life with them.
And then there is still devastation that lingers, as with this home in Normandy. I mean this is no little house like our cottage, and see how the storm lifted it up and tossed it on its side. Stronger than the storm? Not so much.
I understand the campaign. And many areas are looking great. Considering how it looked when we first returned, it is amazing what has been done. Seaside is open for business, as are many of the resort towns. Our community has rentals available. But is has the unmistakable quality of visiting a sick friend.
I am confident that our community will recover. It was not stronger than the storm, but we will not walk away because it is still a beautiful gift from God that we treasure.
So come and visit anyway. Visits always help a sick friend.