Forgive me, but on a rare occasion I have an overwhelming need to deviate from my customary light fare. This is such an occasion. The news from back home is horrible. I am thrilled that Malibu is my home for the past 10 months, but it might well be several years before I can refer to New Jersey without the word “home” popping out.
Virtually all my friends and family back in Jersey are literally and figuratively powerless. They have no electricity which means no lights, television, and heat. Telephone service is spotty. Most stores are not open including pharmacies. If your kid gets sick, good luck reaching a doctor or securing medicine unless you go to a hospital. The temperature is supposed to drop to 40 degrees and if you don’t have a fireplace and firewood, you are going to be awfully cold.
Schools are closed, most work places are closed, and there is little to do but wait for the power to return. Many towns haven’t even seen utility repairs begin. And the friends I’m speaking to are an hour away from the Jersey shore where the devastation is infinitely worse.
One of my friends from Englewood contacted me to see if I had any advice. I suggested he go to a hotel. He emailed me back, “Burt, most of the hotels have no power either and there are no rooms at the few hotels open.” When I suggested he drive his wife and three young children to a hotel a couple of hours away, he explained he didn’t have a lot of gas in his car, and many of the gas stations didn’t have gas or the power to pump their gas. In other words, he was powerless to provide his family with the basics.
Another friend of mine was literally driving two and a half hours to Hartford to secure gas for his fleet of four vans. Without it, he would be out of business. There is little light at the end of the tunnel. Power is slowly being restored, but it could take another week of reading by candle light, foregoing a hot shower, and family cuddling to stay warm. For the first time, people really understand how our ancestors lived and don’t like it one little bit.
On some level I feel guilty being in Malibu where I have every need met, but I know if I were home, I would contribute nothing and would feel as trapped and frustrated as my friends.