I was your everyday, run-of-the-mill, landlocked Colorado native embarking on an adventure when I first moved to New Jersey in 2009. I had never experienced a jughandle, no-left-turns, someone else pumping my gas (by law!) — and I certainly wasn’t ready for the quicker pace. I arrived in New Jersey with no job, no friends. For the first six months, I felt really, really alone.
As odd as it may sound to some of you reading this, the one thing that has made the greatest difference in my life while living here is connecting with emotionally open, giving and powerful Jersey women who were a part of an online network of bloggers and businesswomen. I am so lucky to call them friends.
I remember hearing about the nasty weather that was due to come in to the area in late October, 2012. My grandfather had recently passed away, and my kids and I were to fly back to Denver on Thursday and return home on Monday. We didn’t leave when we expected to. You’ll remember Hurricane Sandy came in and destroyed the area on Monday, October 29, 2012 — leaving the entire state and parts of New York torn apart at the seams.
My friends and the rest of the state suffered in many ways. For many Jersey shore communities, there was no electricity. Neighborhoods burned to the ground. Homes had drifted into the ocean. PEOPLE had drifted into the ocean, ripped from life.
All this time, I was in Colorado, watching the tragedies constantly from my computer, television, and connecting with friends on Facebook to keep up on who was affected and how much damage there really was. I remember seeing Hoboken’s train station flooded. I felt guilty for being so far away. This single moment was when I realized we were more than just a network of women. I was worried sick for them and I had no way to help my friends, except to pray for their safety. This is how my #jerseylove came to be.
I checked in with a neighbor who was taking care of our fish while we were away. We live in North Jersey and didn’t see as much water damage as the Shore communities did, but my neighbor did explain how our neighborhood had experienced powerful wind gusts. We are surrounded by a wooded area, and trees fell on electric wires and damaged houses.
My kids and I were able to fly back to New Jersey on Wednesday, two days after the worst part of the storm. Phone lines were out in many areas and so there was much confusion when we arrived at the airport due to the phones being down. We weren’t able to call our shuttle to pick us up and take us to the parking lot miles away but that wasn’t the worst of my problems. After we finally got to our car, we drove home with no street lights to guide our way through the darkness. I prayed we would not get lost on the highway. Luckily, I had driven that same route many times before and we arrived home safely.
It was a difficult next few weeks. Our Governor rationed gas, grocery stores were depleted and, while we fared better than our devastated Shore friends, our local school district remained closed due to damages incurred by various schools and communities surrounding the schools. I remember hearing that some of the Shore residents were transported up to buildings in our area and I remember running into some acquaintances who said they and their two young boys had not had power in about ten days at that point.
I haven’t been able to go down to help my Shore friends and their neighborhoods with the recovery over the past several months as I would have liked to, so the opportunity to influence future Shore tourism along my network of powerful women bloggers and businesswomen makes me eternally grateful. These are not just friends with whom I will be doing “social good” — we are a band of sisters that will be forever tied to this life-changing mission of showering New Jersey’s Shore with love.
Jersey sisters, I promise #jerseylove will be in my blood forever.
Photo Credit to : New Jersey Photographer Clarissa Nassar