Dave Rodney, Contributor
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ:
JAMAICANS LIVING in the United States, particularly New Jersey, are scurrying to pull their lives back together after the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy that left billions of dollars in damage.
The hurricane made landfall late Monday near Atlantic City in New Jersey, a state that thousands of Jamaicans call home. Based on early forecasts, New Jersey was expected to take a catastrophic beating from what meteorologists were describing as a 'megastorm'. Sandy delivered the expected devastation to the Garden State of New Jersey.
"The state of New Jersey has been severely damaged," Jamaica-born council member for Highland Park, New Jersey, Elsie Foster-Dublin, told The Gleaner. "There has been massive damage of property, cars, homes and beaches across New Jersey, the likes of which we have never seen before.
She added: "And Governor Chris Christie has been forced to declare a state of emergency. As a matter of fact, while I was in a meeting of first responders for emergency management yesterday (Monday), someone texted me a photo with three sharks that had washed up from the ocean to the street."
In the city of East Orange where almost 50 per cent of the residents are Caribbean nationals, mostly from Jamaica and Guyana, signs of the post-hurricane stress as well as the devastation were immediately apparent. "I've had no light and no heat for over 24 hours, my family is freezing in the apartment, and PSE&G, the light company, is telling us that we may not get our lights back until a week to 10 days," Dalton Smith, a long-time resident of the town, lamented.
A growing chorus
The complaint about the lack of electricity is a growing chorus across the state as dozens of towns in the state plunged into darkness before or during the arrival of Sandy.
One tree-lined boulevard in East Orange, Eppirt Street, told a sad tale of the extent of Monday night's horror. At least seven massive trees on Eppirt had plunged into the living rooms and verandas of frightened residents, destroying homes and furniture, ripping through roofs and flattening brand new cars. The damage attracted curious onlookers who sympathised with the residents. In nearby Newark, eyewitnesses said looters were out from as early as 7 a.m. targeting premium brands from liquor stores.
On the other side of the river, in Manhattan, New York, a function that was scheduled to promote an upcoming concert in celebration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence at the Jamaica Consulate on Third Avenue for Tuesday evening was cancelled.
New York City was no less ravaged by Sandy's fury. "The level of devastation in New York City caused by Hurricane Sandy is worse than anything I've ever seen," long-time Jamaican resident Anthony Turner said.
"The loss of commercial power in many parts of the city and the lockdown of the mass transit system since Sunday is unprecedented, and will have far-reaching effects for many Jamaicans who work here and do business with the city," he commented.
We are inviting Jamaicans in the United States to send photographs, videos and stories relating to Hurricane Sandy to firstname.lastname@example.org.