TRENTON – Devastation.
It’s probably the first word that comes to mind when one thinks about Hurricane Sandy.
The Statehouse was closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and various committees that were scheduled to convene were postponed as a result of the statewide devastation.
Even Gov. Chris Christie, whose in-charge demeanor provides reassurance to rattled residents, seemed to give in to his emotions when describing the destruction that took place at such beach communities as Seaside Heights.
Still, the governor was a commanding figure throughout, providing daily updates on rescue efforts, the reopening of roads, and power restoration timetables.
He reminded residents throughout the ordeal, as they sat literally in darkness, that New Jerseyans are a resilient group of people who will come out better and stronger from this experience. He said he didn’t want to sound like a ‘Pollyanna,’ and he wasn’t. He was simply telling the truth.
Legislators contacted by State Street Wire said there are no immediate legislative remedies that could provide assistance in the recovery.
But looking at things from a macro level, certainly such things as business incentives, beach erosion analysis, evacuation techniques, back-up energy generation, and conservation will no doubt be tackled in the ensuing months, according to lawmakers and business groups.
One of the ironies of the hurricane-dominated week was the almost complete sidelining of election news.
Photos and stories about long lines at gas stations, roller-coasters sitting in waves, houses being demolished, roads rendered impassable and whole neighborhoods without power days after the storm hit relegated election coverage to inside-page status.
Yet there were some notable things, including the bipartisan camaraderie of President Obama and Christie surveying damage together, and Obama fast-tracking federal aid pledges to help the state rebuild.
As Christie made clear, this is no time for partisan politicking. This is a time for serving people in need.
By the end of the week, some normality had returned. Casinos had been given the OK to reopen, some public transit had begun to move again, and residents began to return to the barrier islands and other coastal communities to assess the damage and the heartbreak.
In addition, the state started going after suspected price-gougers by issuing 65 subpoenas and investigating more than 500 consumer complaints regarding illegally excessive prices for items such as gasoline, room rentals, and more.