Sunday, November 4, 2012

Writing and Solace after a Disaster

My husband grew up at the Jersey Shore, where most of his family still lives, and in September, I wrote about Belmar Public Library. I posted this photo:

Belmar Library, 10th Avenue and E Street, with a
sculpture honoring the E Street Band, which was founded on the
opposite corner, where some band members lived.

This is the library yesterday:

Belmar Library, November 3.
The basement activity room was reportedly flooded but the 100-year-old library stands.

I had my author photo taken at one of my favorite beech trees that I often photograph because of its extensive arborglyphs. Here's one I took of my daughter at the spot about a month ago:

European beech tree by the park on 8th and C Streets.

And here's the tree yesterday:

Silver Lake at 8th Street, which overflowed its banks.

After Hurricane Sandy, we were very fortunate that the damage to our home and that of our Belmar relatives was minor, but many of our friends and neighbors experienced serious flooding that continues. The lake in the playground photo now stretches through blocks of family homes. The newly completed boardwalk -- one of the primary economic drivers for a beach town -- washed away. The power is expected to stay off until the flooded lake can be drained. The leadership of the town, including Mayor Matt Doherty, is doing an outstanding job of helping neighbors help each other, but it will be a long road.

Others suffered much worse losses, of homes and loved ones. I know people who still aren't sure what they'll find when they go home. Some towns themselves are nearly obliterated, including Sea Bright, where one of my husband's high school friends is mayor.

In the midst of it all, the NY-based publishing industry was hobbled and will likely take a while to get back to normal after continuing power and transportation disruptions.

Why Write?

And then November First came, and many writers began National Novel Writing Month. I have never done NaNo, so it seemed to discordant to see all the NaNo tweets and posts while I was scouring Twitter and Facebook for news of family and friends.

But it makes sense. Many writers started writing on backup generator power or by longhand. Others wrote as a sense of solace, community, and escape during a disorienting time.

I wrote much of my first novel (unpublished) years ago as a respite during a time of mourning. Writing saved me. It was not and is not frivolous.

So keep writing. The stories you write could save you and those who read them someday. And keep helping -- there are many out there who need it.

Donate to American Red Cross here. 

Belmar Beach, November 3, 2012. All photos by Jeff Lyons.


Anonymous said...

I think it is difficult for us to truly understand the depth of this disaster and how it affects people and places. The post you wrote brought me closer to that understanding though...I felt some of what you must be feeling and what others must be as well. My heart truly goes out to you, your family and everyone. Keep writing indeed...doing that during a period of mourning I do understand. All my best.

Kell Andrews said...

Deb, thank you! My family came out really well. I'm only a part-time Belmartian, but my husband's family lives there full-time, and they came out of it really well. My husband delivered gasoline for the generators and electric heaters yesterday because they don't expect power for a long time, and our cousins are staying with us this weekend to get warm and clean for a few days.

One block from our homes is flooded -- someone spotted a sea turtle swimming in the high school today. So we're really, really lucky. I feel so much for those who lost so much -- this was a wide-ranging storm from the Caribbean to the Great Lakes, with many affected all over.

Angela Townsend said...

I've always loved New Jersey. Thanks for sharing the pictures I hope everyone in all areas of the world recovery as quickly as possible.

Jess said...

What a wonderful post~ those photos are incredible and I hope those towns that were hit can find a way to get back on track. I love how you brought NaNo up as a way to help individuals cope with challenges.

JeffO said...

I'm a Long Island boy transplanted upstate, have a lot of friends who live along the Jersey shore. It's especially shocking to see places you know underwater, under sand, so severely damaged. My heart goes out to all.

Carmen said...

I'm halfway across the country, but my heart is with everyone out east suffering right now. Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking!

LinWash said...

So sad and horrible. I feel awful about this. Thank you for sharing.

Dionna said...

Thank you for sharing your photos and heart with us.