Friday, November 2, 2012

A Storm To Remember

The No. 1 question being asked in these parts these days is this: Has the power come back on?

When TigerBlog is asked that question, he comes up with his stock answer, that he has no power and no electricity. Or that he is powerless.

In reality, it's hard to make jokes - lame of otherwise - about Hurricane Sandy, not these days, not in this part of the country.

After all, what happened here is unbelievable.

The lines that form and seem to stretch forever as cars line up to get gas, often waiting literally for hours. Entire towns are still without power. Traffic lights are out. Trees are down everywhere.

People have lost their homes and, sadly, their lives.

The Jersey Shore, which to so many conjures up so many great memories through the years, is nearly gone.

TigerBlog grew up not far from the Seaside boardwalk, the one that was essentially washed away with the wind and rain from Sandy. He rode on the rides that now are in the Atlantic Ocean.

If one person symbolizes the hurt of people from this area who spent so much of their lives in towns like Seaside and Lavallette and Mantoloking, it's New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose performance during this crisis time has been extraordinary.

It's not the level of preparation or the hard work in the aftermath of the storm or even his non-partisan embrace of President Obama's assistance that is remarkable about Governor Christie.

It's the hurt he clearly is feeling as he watches a beloved piece of land in ruins, flooded and in some cases burned and in others completely destroyed. And it's the resolve he shows in saying that it will be reborn.

Frankly, it's inspiring, in a time when so few public officials on either side of the aisle seem to understand what that concept is all about.

Yes, there are tempers flaring as hundreds of thousands are asked to wait patiently for the power to come back on, as their houses become colder and colder at night.

TigerBlog has seen a few people reach their boiling point, including one episode of a shouting match over a parking space in a jammed lot.

For the most part, though, people have faced this challenge with resolve, or maybe just a sense that nature is too strong to battle sometimes, and as a result, there is nothing that can be done other than to ride it out, assess the damage and move on.

It has been a trying week in Princeton, and the impact that the storm had here pales in comparison to what happened 30 miles to the east.

TigerBlog isn't sure how many times the University has been closed in all the years he's worked here, He remembers a huge blizzard (1996?) when it was closed maybe two or three days in a row, and that's the only time he can remember having to close for multiple days.

Today marks the fifth straight day that Princeton University is essentially closed.

With the lack of power and the uncertainty of the weather and everything else, it was left to a few people working behind the scenes to do everything they could to ensure that Princeton's athletic teams had as stable a week as possible to prepare for some huge events this weekend.

And, for that matter, to see that the facilities themselves would be playable come the weekend and that the games could go on as scheduled.

That, as it turns out, is the case.

No Princeton event will need to be postponed or moved to a different time or site.

And that's a good thing, as the fall winds down and Ivy League championships are on the line. The games themselves are also a sign that normalcy is returning - just as the return of more and more traffic lights are as well.

Still, it'll be a long time before every sign of what happened here this week is eliminated, that everyone has power back, that every damaged or destroyed house is rebuilt.

Because of what happened so close to here, the events this weekend will probably not draw the crowds or have the festive feel they otherwise might have, and that's fine.

This is a time for reflecting on an epic event of nature - and to move ahead with the spirit that the Governor embodies.

It'll be good to see Princeton teams playing again and the University attempt to get back to normal.

Succeeding at the first won't be easy, not with the challenges that Princeton's team face this weekend.

At the same time, it certainly won't be as big a task as the second.

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