Big Blue View staff member Kelsey O'Donnell discusses her experiences as a New Jersey resident during Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
For those that may or may not have noticed, I've been MIA for the last week. I didn't go into hiding. I wasn't taking a break. I had no choice.
I live in Bayonne, New Jersey. I am surrounded by Jersey City, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Newark. When Hurricane Sandy came blowing through the area, it wasn't a pretty sight.
My neighborhood is fortunate enough to be a non-flood zone, but that doesn't stop the transformers from blowing up all around you. Last Monday night as the storm was picking up, I was sitting on my couch just watching the flashes in the sky from the transformers that were giving out, some very close to my street. After about 10 or so flashes my power finally goes out around 8:30 that night.
What I thought would be a power outage for maybe two days turned into a week, and the threat of lasting two weeks.
It wasn't just electricity I lost. I lost power, heat, hot water, and I was running low on non-spoiled food. This loss lasted for an entire week, and it became harder to deal with as the temperature got colder.
I rent the downstairs apartment in my family's house, and we had a generator outside for the TV and some lights upstairs in the attic. On Saturday night, it seeped carbon monoxide through my air conditioner and into my apartment. If you don't have a carbon monoxide detector, please get one. Without it, I'd probably be dead.
Finally, last night, after being told by PSE&G that they would try to get the power back on by Friday, just as I was enjoying the Philadelphia Eagles loss to the New Orleans Saints on my generator powered TV in the attic, the ceiling fan light turned on. I celebrated like Tom Hanks celebrated making a fire in Castaway.
With everything I went through, though, nothing compares even close to what's happened everywhere else. I have a friend who lives in Staten Island that literally had to run away from rising waters that destroyed his neighborhood. I have friends and family that lost their homes and everything they own down the shore. I saw the devastating images of the burned down homes in Breezy Point. I saw my childhood memories of the Jersey Shore boardwalk be washed away into the Atlantic Ocean.
I've now learned from this experience to enjoy the little things in life. I can now go back to do what I love most, which is writing and watching sports. I can go back to enjoying my college football Saturdays and NFL Sundays. I still have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, the love from my family and friends, and most of all, my life. My heart aches for those that lost these things in this horrible storm. I can't even imagine what they're going through.
I ask everyone to go home, hug your loved ones, and tell them you love them. You really just never know when you'll see them again. If you see someone that needs help, even if you don't know them, just help them. And please, whether it's $1, $100, a pint of blood, a can of food, a blanket, or a pair of socks, please donate. There are people right now that need it more than ever.
Follow Kelsey O'Donnell on Twitter @KelsODonnell