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Sandy update

It isn’t possible to put into words what New Jersey is like these days.

Typical scene

Everybody tries to find words. “Devastated” is one you hear a lot. Or “wrecked.” Or “ruined.”

At a minimum … “changed forever.”

For the first time yesterday, The Legal Genealogist climbed out of her powerless, heatless, internet-less home and ventured out to see what life was like beyond the quiet streets of Central New Jersey. And, like everyone else, I ended up with no words.

Telephone and utility poles snapped like matchsticks. Major highways narrowing to one lane every few hundred yards because of yet another downed tree entangled with yet more wires. All of those storage sheds you see at every Home Depot store you’ve ever been to… mangled and mauled, as if they’d been made out of aluminum foil. Debris everywhere.

And sirens. Sirens everywhere. Police. Ambulance. Fire. You can’t travel any distance here any more without pulling over to let some emergency vehicle by. And your heart clenches just that little bit more as you hope that, whatever the emergency is, it isn’t too much for someone else to bear.

Our coastline has been ravaged. Our cities darkened. Our infrastructure clearly unequal to the task of meeting a storm the likes of this one. Millions and millions of people are still in the dark, without power and without any hope of power being restored any time soon. The rail system will take weeks to bring back fully online. There are few gas stations open and operating. Those that are open have lines that stretch literally for miles.

Every news report makes us cringe. More bodies found. More deaths. (People, please… if you have generators, keep them a distance from the house. Those two teenaged sisters in Newark didn’t have to die of carbon monoxide poisoning…) More destruction. More homes damaged beyond repair.

All we can do is keep putting one foot ahead of the other and soldier on.

And we can’t do it alone.

New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland… all the states impacted by Sandy… we’re going to need your help.

If you can spare a little, consider making a donation to a charity of your choice that’s pitching in to help with disaster relief.

In my own personal experience, I’ve always found the Salvation Army to be a good choice for disaster relief. Whatever differences I’ve had with that organization’s political stands, I have to say the Salvation Army’s politics have never affected the way it reaches out when the chips are down.

Another possibility, always, is the Red Cross, though some of us in the New York metropolitan area will never quite forgive its handling of post-9/11 contributions.

And please… don’t forget our furry friends. Help for existing shelters can go a long way towards saving lives in this time of crisis. One no-kill shelter that always needs help — and never more than right now — is the North Shore Animal League on Long Island. National groups collecting for disaster relief include the Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association.

There are bound to be con artists out there — there always are after a disaster. So be careful and check out any charity that asks for your help. At a minimum, check it out with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving site before handing over a dime — or a credit card number.

And keep the entire east coast in your thoughts and hearts, please. These are dark days here…

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