Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our Hurricane Sandy Story



This home above belongs to a friend of my brother Walt. You can see directly into that bedroom upstairs like it's a dollhouse. Every house on this street was equally damaged.



Sandy lived up to her name. There used to be a paved road where that sand now sits. In this house, where the inside is now outside, we could actually see a pot still sitting on the burner of that stove, and a bottle of ketchup on the counter top.


On every street there were homes like this, ripped open and exposed by the fierce winds.


The winds ripped entire walls from houses. Hundreds of houses, all within a couple miles from our home.


In this spot there used to be a dune. Those rocks in front of Aaron should be underneath a seven foot tall hill of sand. The tidal surge came in and completely washed the dunes away.

Forgive me if this is a complete wreck of a blog post. The power just came back on minutes ago and my typing fingers are still frozen stiff from an entire week without heat...or light!! I think the monitor might be hurting my eyes! As you may already know from many previous posts...I live on the Jersey Shore. And if you turned a TV on for even one second in the past week you know that the Jersey Shore is absolutely devastated. My little town suffered so so much damage. And so much of my beloved Jersey Shore is pretty much wiped off of the map. I cannot stop crying. All of those images you are seeing in the newspapers or on TV...those are pics of my backyard. I don't want to write an epic here. I am going to try to keep it as brief as possible. I guess the best way to tell this would be chronologically. I am so jumbled and the last seven plus days of darkness, and dampness, and fear, have all blended together. I really hope I'm able to tell all of this to you so that it makes some sense. I've never been through anything like this and I hope to never ever go through it again.

Sunday---the day before Sandy hit. A business as usual Sunday except for all of the news reports saying that we're about to be hit with a storm that no one has seen the likes of in more than a hundred years. There's really not too much you can do to prepare. We went grocery shopping and the stores were pretty much wiped out. And it's a bit of a quandary...you need supplies but you don't want to buy anything that needs to be kept in the refrigerator...because you know that the power is going to go out for a loooong time if the storm hits as hard as they say it will. The winds are picking up a bit, everyone you know is a bit wary but no one believes it will be as bad as the news is predicting.

Monday---the day of the storm. Absolutely no rain in the daylight hours. It's windy and the sky is looking ominous. We're beginning to see the news reports from places farther south and Sandy the hurricane is looking just as bad as they said she would look. But it's still early in the day. Aaron's parents, who live across town from us are able to take a walk to this little wooden walkway up on the beach and they report back to us that in their thirty plus years living on the bayshore, that they have never ever seen the bay looking so big and so fierce. We're hoping that the dunes that stand between our town and the bay are tall enough to keep the tidal surge held back. Me, Aaron, and my brother Walt spend the day securing the house and yard. Taking down the deck umbrella, laying the chairs down flat, taking in the plants...putting away anything that can become a projectile in high winds. Walt drives his girlfriend's car to the next town over, farther inland, and parks it there in case of flooding. Luckily for us Walt has a jeep with giant tires and it's lifted up so that you nearly need a ladder to climb in, and it has a snorkle exhaust so that it can drive in almost six feet of water. And he's filled the gas tank plus a few Jerry cans. During the day Walt goes for a series of drives in our immediate area and there is already a few feet of flooding in some lower lying coastal areas...and the storms is still HOURS away at this point. So we know it's going to be bad...no rain, no storm yet...and yet there is tremendous flooding!...uncanny.

 Now, in the town where I live we are on the bayshore, not the ocean...but the ocean is nearby. We are hearing reports that the bay is going to flood worse than the Atlantic, due to smaller dunes and less tidal walls, etc...Compared to the rest of our town we are kinda far inland. So we think that we might get some flooding but nothing outrageous. As the winds kick up and Sandy nears, Walt parks his Jeep in front and settles in with me and Aaron in the livingroom. His bedroom is directly beneath a very big old tree that might come down, so he brings a blowup mattress into the livingroom fearing that his bedroom will be crushed in the night. The three of us are in the livingroom watching the news and discussing what our escape plans will be. We have a second floor...so if it floods we can always go upstairs...with the two chihuahuas and our poor bird. If a tree falls on the house we'll leave immediately. So there I am on Facebook reading so many messages from dear friends living in other places telling me and Aaron to please evacuate. Believe me...I heeded these warnings and appreciated them so much...but where we were seemed relatively safe. At one point...just as I'm about to update on Facebook, the power goes out. Luckily, Walt is an outdoorsman and has a ton of camping equipment. A great radio....and lanterns...and a portable jumpbox to start a car with a dead battery. It's windy and dark and scary...our cell phones are losing bars by the minute. Aaron is actually dosing off on the couch as me and Walt look out the windows. At one point we see the roof on the house across the street completely blow off. Then a giant branch that's nearly the size of a tree lands on our deck completely shaking our whole house. Then, we begin to see water in the street...just a few inches at first...but then it's halfway up Walt's jeep tires...and soon it's coming across our lawn and up our front steps...all within minutes. Walt get's a call from his friend Greg who lives right by the bay. Greg has a truck almost twice as tall as Walts and he says the water was over his hood and came up into his livingroom which is more than five feet off the ground. Greg jumped in his truck carrying his dog and nothing else and fled. The flood overtook his house in seconds. He had actual waves crashing into his backdoor and his house is hundreds of yard from the bay on a normal day! So we figured that the water creeping up our steps was about to double since the dunes behind Greg's house were compromised. Walt ran out to his trusty Jeep and whattaya know...it's dead...but again, he has that jumpstarter thing. He hooks it up under the hood of his jeep at  the height of the storm. He is thigh deep in water in front of our house. He gets the jeep started but has to keep his foot on the gas or else it will stall. This jeep is our only escape so we abandon our plan of fleeing upstairs...because what if a tree comes down on the house after we have gone upstairs?...then who knows what dangers await?...there are hours of storm yet to hit us and high tide has not yet crested. Walt is screaming for us to hurry up. We quickly try to pick up anything that is close to the floor...keep in mind...this is in the pitch dark...we grab speakers...the computer....our original paintings that are on low shelves... We throw a handful of clothes into garbage bags, grab the two chihuahuas, and go out the front door. Stepping off of the front porch into thigh high water is terrifying. It's so so dark and the wind is whipping around like you wouldn't believe. 50 to 70 miles per hour. We wade through the water and climb into the jeep and race off in search of higher ground. For blocks the water is just as deep but then as we get farther inland we finally hit dry pavement. We don't really know where to go at this point. The last time that Aaron spoke to his parents they said that there was no water on their street across town. It seems so hard to believe because they are right on the water. So we drive out of town and then head back in on their side of town...to take the chance. Holy cow...Aaron's parent's house is not flooded at all. They happen to live in the part of town that used to flood many many years ago...until the Army corps of engineers came in and built the floodgates. So, at the height of Sandy, their house has not a puddle even near it. Yes, keep in mind...it barely rained...all this flooding is from a tidal surge.

  We arrive at Aar's parents house all huffing and puffing and wet. It's pitch dark so Aar's dad is shining a flashlight on us wondering who the heck just came speeding into his driveway at 10pm. Again, the cellphones had stopped working at this point...so we couldn't even call ahead to tell them that they were about to shelter us for the night. We strip out of our wet, muddy clothes...that smell like the bay...borrow some sweats and huddle around the radio in the livingroom with Aaron's parents.
  The winds are so so scary. The house shudders with every gust. But they've got a great old Victorian and Aar's dad has sufficiently bolstered it over the years and it feels so so safe in there. We camp out downstairs in sleeping bags fearing that the giant tree in the backyard may crush the upstairs. But later in the night Aaron's hip can't bear the dining room floor any longer, so when the winds have diminished a bit the two of us head upstairs...and we bring our pup Carlos. The strange surroundings and the stress of the storm have our pups, Carlos and Jack, fighting. We lay in bed but do not sleep. It is so so scary and all we can think about is the state of our home that we left behind.

 Tuesday---and the cold dark days that followed. The morning after the storm we awoke safely at Aaron's parent's home. Well, Aaron awoke from a couple hours of sleep...but I didn't sleep a wink. The power is out but Barb, Aar's mom, has got scrambled eggs going on the gas stove. Upon a quick inspection there doesn't seem to be any damage to Aar's parent's house. It's raining but the strong winds of Sandy seem to have passed. At this point we are dreading the notion of returning to our home and finding it destroyed. After breakfast we slip our soaking wet shoes back on, get in the jeep, and make the five minute trip across town to go check out our home. Most roads are still flooded so we can't yet take a ride around our small town to survey the overall damage. But even in this very short trip it's unbelievable how much destruction we pass by. Houses are under water, hundreds of trees are down, dozens of utility poles are fallen over or darn close to it...the town is a mess.

Our yard is loaded with yucky mud and fallen branches. The lawn has eroded away almost completely. We've got pieces of the roof from across the street strewn all over. Our garbage cans are gone. My brother Walt's prized 1987 Firebird is immersed in water...the entire interior is wrecked and he guts it later in the week. When we enter our house we are first hit with the smell of gross flood water. It smells like a very fishy, mucky, low tide. The flood waters have receded from our property but we've still got some standing water throughout the first floor of our house...yes, the water came in. We dreaded it, and it happened. Luckily it didn't get too deep and it didn't fill the entire floor plan. It kind of made a small stream from the front door to the back door...through the living room, the dining room, the kitchen...and it branched out into our studio space, and as my luck would have it, the deepest part of this indoor stream ended up in my closet! Yeah, our bedroom is still the temporary one on the ground floor, and my little closet that's full of my clothes and jewelry, and purses, and shoes, and family photos, picture boxes, gifts and keepsakes...well, all of that stuff is in a pool of dirty, stinky, water from the bay. We start mopping it up and we instantly know that all of the wood floors will have to be ripped out and replaced, as well as the carpet in our little bedroom. There were some amazing graces...the water dodged our couch somehow! We believe Walt's air mattress had something to do with this. It was placed right inside of our front door and it diverted the flood water just ever so slightly enough that the little indoor river went around our couch without touching it! And the same goes for a bunch of our artwork that was in a box on the floor of our studio...the water encircled the box but never touched the cardboard box.

It was early yet, but we knew we had to clean all this mess up like whirling dervishes before sunset. The power was out and we'd be enveloped in black soon (and for the next week! But we didn't know that then.) We couldn't yet get a full grasp on the damage to our home (and we still don't really know now) but we knew that whatever the damage was it was nothing compared to some of our neighbors and fellow New Jerseyans. We were lucky. Sure, our central air conditioning unit outside was immersed in the flood waters and destroyed. The rain poured through a big hole in our laundry room ceiling. Our floors are all destroyed. The mold and the muck stench will get worse and worse by the day. Part of our siding and gutters are ripped off the exterior of the house. In our crawl space there is a swamp and all of the insulation is drenched and has fallen down into the swamp...all sorts of stuff...but we are blessed because our home still stands. We can still shut the door and go to bed here. Many many people right here in our little town do not have this luxury. Their homes are GONE.




One of many houses that was ripped apart by the winds of Sandy.



At the height of the storm cars were completely immersed in water, and some, like this one, exploded and burned to crisp.





The winds ripped entire walls from houses. Hundreds of houses, all within a couple miles from our home.




The cleanup effort. This sand was swept into town by the surge. In some spots the sand reached as far as six blocks inland.




My Nana's summer bungalow is the white one on the far left. The whole front porch came off. You can clearly see the water line there on the yellow house. Minutes before I took this pic that man sitting in the chair had found jumbo shrimp flopping around on his livingroom floor.



The entire contents of my Nana's summer house. Ripped out and put on the street in the days after the storm. She has owned this house since the 1950's.


So, this was Tuesday. We were exhausted after the long day of cleaning...just the tip of the iceberg of the cleaning that we'd be doing for the rest of the week...and the rest of this year for that matter. When night fell we too fell...and slept like weary, muddy dogs in the cold dampness of our home.
The rest of the week was more of the same...but even in all this chaos we did manage to get ourselves into a bit of a pattern. In the morning me and Aaron toured our little town on foot. Every single morning we walked just about every street in town. There were lots of tears...shed by us and by those who we observed. We went and found where the bay breached the dunes on the beach. The spot was nearly a quarter mile from our house and the waters still managed to reach into our living room. The area of town where the breach occurred is one of the older parts of town. This was originally a summer town really...full of tiny beach bungalows. My Nana's summer bungalow was pretty much a half a block away from the breach in the dunes. She's owned it since the 1950's and now after all that time, it got wrecked, completely underwater and gutted. The friend of my brother Walt who I mentioned earlier, Greg...well we saw his hot tub had floated two blocks away from his house. There were cars and boats that floated around all over like they were toys...perched on top of fences and steps and front lawns.



A pile of amusement park debris. That's a little jeep from a kiddie park ride.


A pile of amusement park wreckage. Video games and fixtures from an ice cream stand.




Beyond that guardrail you can see a rooftop that is now sitting on the pavement. The building that was once below that rooftop is now completely gone. It housed everyone's favorite summer pizza place and a legendary French Fry stand.


The kiddie park section of the amusement park. Every single ride is totally destroyed.



The old carousel was completely destroyed.




There were prizes from the amusement park stands strewn all over town.




One of the famous bumper cars. This one floated about five or six blocks inland.




I just got so sad when I saw machines like this one that floated all the way across town and were then busted open by looters.


All over town there were vending machines. They floated for blocks and blocks. And in the days after the storm every single one was broken into and the contents were looted.


These video games and other contents from an arcade floated maybe a dozen blocks through town.



These bungalows were decimated by the tidal surge. Where you see sand there used to be a parking lot believe it or not.


In our town we have an amusement park...and it this was probably the most dramatic source of the images we'd see from the Sandy's aftermath. Arcade games, vending machines, skee ball games, prizes, ride tickets, all sorts of fun signs, bumper cars, video games galore, parts of rides...all the stuff that makes up your average boardwalk/amusement park...these things ended up all over town. Things that you'd never think could float, floated far and wide...a quarter mile...a half mile maybe. So many memories...really, the entire amusement park is gone. Aaron lived in this town since birth...we have a whole lot of history here.


Ok, I know I said that I didn't want this post to be an epic...and that is precisely what it is at this point. Let me try to speed things up. The following days really did just melt together. Without electricity the world can be a tough place...now add in the fact that all of our surroundings are flooded...it's so cold, outdoors and indoors...we are dirty, we can't wash our clothes...we are in the same wet muddy socks for days...all of our shoes are soaked and caked with mud...and the mud stinks...the whole town stinks...it's fishy and smells like dead animals...the food in our fridge is going bad...even if your car is working you won't able to get gas...and night time is scary. It's so so dark and there is a curfew...police are everywhere and there are rumors of looting...rumors of break-ins and people stealing other people's generators. And it's all so so sad and depressing. Your thoughts keep going to all the devastation that you've seen...the displaced, homeless families who lost every single thing that they own...every shred of their belongings are gone.



Our poor little Jack. A few days after the storm. Amid the cold blackout, he couldn't eat or drink, and he temporarily lost the use of his legs...for almost three straight days.


All over town there are basements being pumped out...if one is lucky enough to have a pump. Anyone who can access their wrecked home is removing all of the contents and putting them in piles out by the street. The municipal work teams are working round the clock with tractors trying to put the sand back up on the beach where it belongs, and trying to pump the bay water back into the bay. When night fell we turned on our trusty radio to hear the news about the rest of the state...trying to find out how relatives in other towns made out. The battery powered radio was all we had. Our cell phone didn't work, nobody's cell phone worked for a couple of days. We felt so isolated...in the dark...figuratively and literally. We were scared that we'd need help and that we wouldn't be able to get it. This notion came to mind when our adorable little chihuahua Jack all of the sudden could not walk or even stand. We'd prop him up and his legs would go limp. We couldn't get him to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom. We'd take him outside, prop him up next to the bush, hoping he'd tinkle, and then he'd just wimper and flop down into the mud. It went on for two plus days. The only water that passed his lips was from my finger tips...he wouldn't drink so I would sorta wipe water into his mouth, wetting his gums and tongue.We were a bit scared, but we suspected that it could be mental. Jack is a worrier and a week in cold darkness had freaked him out. We think it manifested physically. This ordeal with Jack miraculously ended finally today...pretty much when the electric came back on. We took him outside and he walked and relieved himself...we took him inside and he ate and drank.

Fast Forward to this Tuesday---Today. Here I sit, frantically typing this blog post...hoping that the power stays on...and if it doesn't...well then at least I'll have filled you guys in on what happened to us this week. I disappeared from the internet over a week ago without a word or a whisper. I am so so happy to be back in front of this screen and to have discovered the hundreds of emails and facebook messages from you guys...your concern for our well being has tears streaming down my face and Aaron's. We are so so appreciative of you guys!

In the couple of days after the storm I tried to take as many photos as I could around my little town. You can see a few of them here in this post. It's almost impossible to convey the full extent of the damage that Sandy has done to this state that I love so much...and this region of the state in particular...The Jersey Shore. The geography has actually changed...where once there was land, there isn't any longer. Whole towns are gone. Towns down the shore that had homes that Aaron and I painted murals in...huge beautiful homes filled with hand painted furniture of ours...they are all gone. It's heartbreaking. The entire boardwalk down in Seaside Heights now sits in the Atlantic ocean. And again, as bad as it is...I can only feel lucky. We lost so much less than many many souls. My heart goes out to them and I feel deeply for their losses. Amid all of this chaos and despair I have witnessed so so much goodwill and charity and kindness. People have really stepped up as neighbors, as fellow New Jerseyans, fellow humans. Every day I have been amazed by what people are doing for other people. I have yet to explore any farther than my little town really. It's been too hard to travel. And with the power being out...even though being home is miserable...you don't want to leave your home. Yeah, I know, people have been amazing...but there are still a few rotten apples out there that are looting and robbing...the world is far from perfect.

We're graciously asking for your help!

So now it's time to clean up and rebuild. Me and Aaron are hard at work already, getting the studio in order, laying out supplies, and we can't wait to start creating. We are flush with inspiration. For the very first time we are humbly asking for any possible help that you guys could send our way. This storm has put us in a hole financially...the depth of which I do not know the extent yet. We've put in calls to the insurance and fema but we know that whatever help they could offer couldn't possibly be sufficient. So in an attempt to start to get us back on track we are having a sale...everything in our store is 20% off...use sale code: XONEWJERSEY.

We really do need any bit of help you can send our way. Start your holiday shopping, or pick up something for yourself...whatever the occasion may be. We appreciate you guys so so much and it warms our hearts to know that you are there and that you care. I really should end this post...how many times have you refilled your cup of coffee in reading this?! Again, Thank you so so so much! And as always...
Love from the Jersey Shore!
xo, Jenny...and Aaron


Aaron standing by where a dune used to be. There should be a smooth rolling hill of sand there. You can see that the water rose over six feet in this spot.



This house, like countless others, had upwards of four feet of water inside.


We saw messages like this all over town.



The tidal surge ripped the exterior wall off of this home. You are actually seeing the inside hallway of this house. There used to be a paved parking lot and grassy yard where that sand and tidal pool now sit. See those trees in the background? The bay is about a hundred yards beyond those trees...and the water rose up so far that only the rooftop of this house crested above the surge.


84 comments:

  1. Oh my god... I can't imagine how horrible it must have been going through something like that.. The last photo of help message was terrible. I send to you lots of encouragement and hope everything is resolved soon. From Spain , all my love for people who have suffered this.

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  2. OH my goodness. You poor thing. I'm so sorry to hear about what you went through! Those pictures were so intense.

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  3. SO incredibly heartbreaking!! My sister lives in Hoboken, NJ and was trapped in her apartment building when the water level rose too high for any tenants to get out. She just got power back yesterday afternoon. She was very lucky compared to many of the people's homes you photographed! Prayers to all and your family as well! I know the days to come will be stressful. Might be a good idea add a link to the Red Cross Sandy Disaster Relief on your page for folks to donate. After seeing your photos and hearing your story, it would be hard for them not to! :)

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  4. I'm so glad to to hear that you're safe!

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  5. Oh my gosh, I am so glad you are ok and escaped pretty lucky! I can't imagine going through this... it read just like a movie. I hope that the days get brighter, and slowly but surely your town gets pulled back together.
    xox dana

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  6. I can't even imagine. However odd it sounds: thank you for sharing your experience & the photos. It definitely makes things real. I send my compassion, & pray you find warm socks & recovery quickly!

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  7. Jenny, I'm so glad you and your loved ones aren't hurt and are doing ok. When I heard of the devastation that Sandy inflicted over there, I couldn't stop thinking about you and Aaron...hoping you were safe. I'm glad to hear from you finally and I pray for a speedy recovery to a normal life for you and yours. I think you should add a personal donations link to your blog (if that's legal) for all the people that are gonna want to help you out. God bless!

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  8. Jenny & Aaron,

    It is a relief to hear that you are doing OK.

    Thank you for taking the time to document and share the experiences you had.

    Your brother is a hero. :)

    If you have been getting mail delivered- please send me your mailing address-
    *hugs*
    Amber Dawn

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  9. I'm happy you and Aaron are safe and warm. xo

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  10. Oh wow. I just finished reading this entire post and couldn't stop crying! I'm so sorry for you and your family Jenny and also all of the others affected by hurricane Sandy! I could never imagine what its like to go through something like that. I am praying for you and your family and all the others affected. :) And I will try to purchase something to help you out very soon! Lots of love coming your way dear. I'm so glad to hear that you all are ok!

    xo Aubree

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  11. Oh gosh, I was aware that New Jersey had been hit hard but your images really do hit home. Such a powerful post. I hope things get back on track as quickly as possible. Lots of hugs being sent to you from the UK.

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  12. Wow, you guys got hit so hard!I too lost power for almost 5 days and it was not fun at all! I know exactly what you mean about not knowing how to prepare for this sorta thing.We were heating up my babies milk with candles.This experience was just horrible. I'm glad you're ok!

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  13. My prayers and thoughts are so with you...what a terrible ordeal this has been for you and so many others..Wow...I just keep saying to myself how can this be possible!!!? I will try to do all I can to help you...if possible could I link this post and send as many of my fb friends over to read your story..and help in anyway they can.
    Sending you sooo many prayers and love in this difficult time . I really can't even image the stress, anxiety and sorrow you are experiencing at this time. Prayers of strength and HOPE to everyone touched by Sandy. xoxoox

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  14. Oh so glad you guys are safe - being from Connecticut We were riding out the storm too.

    I would love to send a nice little care package to you guys -
    Is there anything you need immediately that we could send? and a place we can send it to?

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  15. Please do take care and may God showers you with all the strength. I am so sorry to hear all this. Take care.

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  16. Heartbroken for you Jenny and hoping things start to turn around soon x

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  17. Jenny and Aaron -
    Wow. Amazing journey. I am so so so sorry that your family is experiencing this, and cannot possibly imagine. I shared your story on our "beach living" Pinterest page, and will add you as a contributor. Pin Away! Will also share on our fb page - keeping my fingers crossed for sales.

    l,
    Caron

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  18. Jenny and Aaron -
    Wow. Amazing journey. I am so so so sorry that your family is experiencing this, and cannot possibly imagine. I shared your story on our "beach living" Pinterest page, and will add you as a contributor. Pin Away! Will also share on our fb page - keeping my fingers crossed for sales.

    l,
    Caron

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  19. I don't even know what to say. Horrific. Happy to hear you survived. Big old hug.

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  20. i wish i could hug you both & help clean up!!
    xo

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  21. Oh Jenny, I am so sorry, and have been keeping you in my prayers. I am happy to hear you and your family are okay. Such horrible devastation. Sending hugs, warmth, and prayers during the recovery. Take care sweet one! xo Heather

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  22. Sending hugs from Staten Island. So glad you, Aaron and your families are all ok. My jaw is still hanging open from all the devastation. It's so hard to see.

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  23. Oh Jenny,
    I know that you and I don't know each other, but my first thought when I heard about the Jersey Shore, was you and Aaron. I am so so sorry for the devastation of your little town, home, and the entire area hit by the storm.
    You have been in my prayers so many times over the past week.
    xoxo Cori

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  24. I am so sorry for the losses experienced during Sandy. I have friends and family that lived through Katrina. My son's grandparents, who owned a house in Long Beach MS, lost everything...EVERYTHING...there was nothing left but the slab of concrete where their house and carport once stood. God bless!

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  25. Jenny,
    I am so sorry to hear this. It is unbelieveable the devastation that this storm brought. My thoughts are with you.

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  26. I don't even know what to say, it is so sad to read about this horrible experience, I can't even imagine how devestating it must be for you all. Stay strong, and all my love <3

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  27. First off I am so glad you & Aaron are ok!!! You're still in my thoughts and will do what I can to spread the word.

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  28. So saddened that (all of) you had to go through this, I truly hope that many more kind soles step up and help each other out instead of all the looting. My brother lives in a basement unit on Staten Island, so far it sounds like he's ok, at least he made it through. I'm hoping that you guys can get back to normalcy as soon as possible! Sending you lots of warm hugs xo Alex

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  29. Thank you for posting this and the pictures. It must so sad and hard to see so much damage and suffering. Hugs to you and your family, and extra hugs to Jack. Love from Sweden, Emily Gray

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  30. Jenny I can't tell you how my heart lifted that you posted. I'd been beyond worried for my virtual crafting soulmate. Seeing your posts everyday in the various social medias has been one of the high points of my websurfing. I wish, more than anything, that I could pack up a few of my guys and head up there to help you with our experience in storm recovery. Instead I'll pray everyday and donate when I can. All my best-Jeannie in Florida

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  31. OMG, Dear Jenny!~~~Thank goodness you, Aaron and all of your loved ones are safe. I was thinking about you so much as Hurrican Sandy touched us, but not nearly as bad as it hit you. Of course I had to get one of your delightful prints, but if there is anything I can send you, please let me know.~~~XXOO, Beth
    www.elizabethholcombe.typepad.com

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  32. Oh Jenny, you have been in my thoughts.. I'm so glad to see a post, although the devastation is so terrible. I didn't look yet, but maybe you have a blog button for us to donate to you all. You have been so generous with your tutorials, it's the least I can do. Big hugs from New Mexico, Helen

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  33. Oh, Jenny! Aaron, I am just overwhelmed by your experience...your post really hit home and gave me a taste of the horrors you and the East Coast survived after Sandy. I am so sorry for the losses and the scary moments, and the loss of property to a degree I can't even phathom. Thinking of you and will be purchasing from your store to support your efforts to get back to normal. Much love from the Midwest xoxo

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  34. Jenny, I look at your blog everyday for almost a year now. I love it so much. The vintage colors and creations are scrumptious. I don't know you, but I knew you lived at the Jersey shore and was worried about and praying for you every day when I did not see a post on your blog day after day. I sent a message to Nat of Take the Cannoli just yesterday asking if she knew anything or if you were OK. My prayers are with you and my concern and love. When I am going thru major hurdles and deep suffering that rips at my soul, I read my Bible and it makes such a difference. I was so relieved to see your post today. So glad your little doggie is doing better. Who says animals don't have emotions? Not me. You are a treasure to God and all of us. As you reassemble your life, I pray that you will be led by God and see something and Someone that will come out of this that is more awesome than you ever could have dreamed or imagined. I pray that God will pour out such blessings on you that there would not be room enough to receive it, so much that it overflows to others as well. Deep concern and Heartfelt Prayers, Loretta <3

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  35. I am sitting here just totally in shock for all that you have been through the past few days. I can't imagine...and feeling so helpless to do anything.

    I am hoping and praying you start to feel that normalcy you're so wanting right now.

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  36. Jenny and Aaron--
    Both my husband and I have been checking in to your Facebook page this past week hoping that you were both okay. We read this post together and are grateful that you are both alive and your home is still inhabitable. But still... the devastation you've witnessed and the sadness you feel because of it must be overwhelming. I am so very sorry. I am glad you are able to break out the paints and create so soon after, but still. As a fellow artist, my heart aches for you both. You will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. Please continue to reach out to this vast community out here of people who care. Somehow we will help you get through this.
    Love and hugs,
    Cindy (and Hubby) at Rosehaven Cottage

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  37. I also think a personal donation link for you and Aaron would be welcomed. <3 Thank you for telling your story. I cannot even imagine the devastation and heartbreak. Take care Sweetie.

    Julie

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  38. I've been thinking of you! So glad to hear you are SAFE, and so heartbroken about all the loss in your town. You are both such survivors, I know you can get through it!~ Hugs and best wishes!~!

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  39. I was thinking of you guys! So glad to know you are safe. I can't imagine how hard this has been in you. Hugs and hoping for better days ahead for you. xo

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  40. Jenny my heart goes out to you & Aaron and everyone in your area..I do not know how you are surviving!! Please know my thoughts & prayers are with all of you!

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  41. I was getting so worried about you! I saw you hadn't posted, so I figured that you didn't have any power. I'm glad you have power again!

    Xo,
    Eeka

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  42. Oh Jenny, I cannot imagine the heartbreak you and Aaron are experiencing. I love you girl.

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  43. Oh Jenny ... my heart is breaking for you and the people in your township!! My friend lives in south Jersey (Pennsville) and I have family and friends in Wayne and Kinnelon and they are all okay and had some damage, but nothing this extreme... my heart is just aching for you..... I even have family in upstate NY and in the city and it all just makes me cry....

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  44. HI Jenny and Aaron...
    Thank you so much for sharing this Jenny.. it must have been hard to relive this awful night..I am so very glad you are all safe and send you love, hugs and prayers!! xoxo

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  45. Jenny, I don't know what to say.What a horrible and horrifying experience! I'm so glad that y'all are safe and that Jack is doing better. Poor little guy must have really been freaked out! It's hard to see all that you're familiar with damaged or gone. I felt that way when the Pentagon was attacked on 9/11. And looters are awful! How dare they steal from others in such bad conditions? Makes me sick! All I know is that houses will be rebuilt, familiar landmarks will be put back in place and eventually, this will all be but a bad memory. New Jerseyans are tough people, commited to their area and loving towards their neighbors. y'all will fight and work and it will look like home again one day. Please try to focus on that, a positive side, as you deal with your rebuilding and recovery. I will advertise your shop on my blog and face book. We have hard times right now so I doubt I'll be able to purchase anything, but I'll do what I can to send clients your way. Will continue to pray for all Hugs, Leena

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  46. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.. this post made me cry my eyes out. I have been thru a complete fire, and complete lose....I help in the places i can and hope life returns to a new normal for you all soon... a post I will not soon forget... hugs... and so glad you are safe..

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  47. Oh Jenny and Aaron and Walt and doggies. My heart goes out to you all my friends. I am SO glad you are all alive and ok. Walt, thanks for taking good care of everyone.
    xox Colleen

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  48. New Jerseyans are so strong, we can make it through this together! My entire family (even extended family - literally everyone) lives on the shore, mostly Point Pleasant, I grew up there and haven't cried this much ever in my life. I hope everything gets better, at least you're okay. My thoughts are with you. <3

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  49. That is just so horrific. I just can't even imagine what you guys had to go through. It looks like something out of a movie you would see about natural disasters. So glad you peeps all right.

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  50. Dear Jenny & Aaron & Family,

    So happy to hear that you are all safe and that you still have a house to call home. It was amazing to hear and see the devastation that occurred along the shore lines. The stories of people losing homes, family members, and everything they had, makes me realize how lucky we were to only have lost our power for 6 days.

    Hopefully it won't be long before your house is up and running and smelling good again!

    Sending good thoughts your way.
    MaryDeluxe

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  51. You don't know me but I read your blog and love the work you do and I was wondering if you were ok! Glad that you posted and hope all goes well for you again! Prayers for all!

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  52. I was so worried about you guys! I'm in Denville in Morris County and we still don't have power, and it's so frustrating, but I keep reminding myself that I have a house, and I'm very lucky that no trees fell on it. It's so hard to look at the footage of the shore and the places I love so much. I was really worried about Asbury Park, since it's my favorite place to go, and was happy when I saw that the boardwalk wasn't hit too hard. Please keep us updated on your progress at home.

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  53. Wow. Intense but I'm so glad you're okay. I don't know you personally, only through your blog but I am so relieved that you and your family are okay.
    Stay positive. The only constant in life is change.
    Sincerely, Hayley.

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  54. So, so sad... I can't even imagine how it feels. We don't have hurricanes here in Finland.
    Thank you for shearing this.
    I wish you all the best!

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  55. I'm soooooo sorry Jenny :-(

    I was thinking the cold affected little old age arthritis is your fur babies bones. Which would cause the stiffness and pain so bad he couldn't move, eat or drink. Poor little guy. I'm so glad he's better.

    My eyes just got bigger and bigger reading the first night and next day ordeal. So horrible and tragic. Where was your sister? Was she affected and her awesome classic car?

    XOXO

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  56. I'm so sorry...but I do know first hand about the destruction from hurricanes. I left the coast area after hurricane Katrina wiped out everything.

    Stay on FEMA to help you and stay on your insurance company. I know you are overwhelmed. I know it's not much comfort for me to say I've been there, done that but I do want to give you hope for the light to shine again...and usually brighter than ever before.

    In my thoughts and prayers,
    Stephanie Suzanne

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  57. These are so sad, sad images to look at. Fortunately you are safe and sound. Our thoughts go out to those who lost their lives or lost someone dear. It's hard to rebuild your life, but all you need is strength and good faith. I wish you all the best and courage through all this.

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  58. I have been sending positive energy to all of you in NJ. I am glad you and your families are OK, the power is back on and rebuilding is under way. What a shocking experience for all. WARM hugs!

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  59. Last night I was lying in bed thinking about my favourite crafty couple in New Jersey and made a mental note to check your blog and send you an email so i am glad you updated. Im so sorry for your community and my thoughts are with you guys xoxo

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  60. I was so worried about you guys (as if I knew you). I kept checking your blog and so glad to see you are somewhat okay. Heading over to the store now!!! xoxo

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  61. Thank you so much for sharing your story and the story of your town. I feel like I know you after reading your blog (or I want to know you at least). I'm a pink haired, small dog loving, artist/ designer too! I am so sorry that so many things you worked hard for, history, and memories, have been washed away. I hope you can find a way to take this frightening and sad experience and find some love and gratitude in it. I'm not sure how but I know that someone who creates such beautiful cheery artwork of life's simple joys can do it! I know it is hard. I have a chronic illness and struggle everyday to find gratitude. Hang in there Kitty :) Sending my Love

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  62. Oh ,Jenny, I had just today sent a message to Jennifer Hayslip, who I know is an acquaintance of yours, via Fb asking if she'd heard anything about/from you regarding the storm. I hadn't checked my email from yesterday and was relieved to see a blog post there from you. To say that I'm glad you all are ok is an understatement. My heart is so sad for all the damage you've all suffered. As a long time Southern resident, I know all too well how these storms can wreck lives. I grew up on Long Island and NYC and have great love for the whole eastern seaboard. I wish you all a safe and speedy recovery.

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  63. schar_is@hotmail.comNovember 7, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Thank you for taking the time to post this story with the photos.
    I'm impressed by your fortitude. I got your link from my daughter, Lisa Fulmer.

    Stay strong.. I'll peruse your site for gifties next. Scharlene

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  64. I hope things are looking up for you, your family and loved ones soon. I couldn't read the entire post just to emotional for me, just heartbreaking. The pictures really told the story.

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  65. Oh Jenny, I have been thinking of you. I am so glad you guys are ok and so sad to hear about all that has been lost. It's heartbreaking and such a tragedy. I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going through. Stay strong, my friend. My thoughts and prayers are with you! Love, Andrea

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  66. Oh Jenny, I am so sorry for everything that you have been through. I have been thinking about you guys all the time, wondering how you were doing and holding up as I was watching it all unravel on tv. I'm so glad to see that you and yours are all alright and that Jack is finally okay. I can truly understand what you are going through (my family and I were in the heart of the flood of '93 in St. Louis)and I know how hard it is. My heart goes out to you and your loved ones. And you are in my thoughts and prayers!!

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  67. I can't imagine going through this. Reading about it from familiar bloggers is totally different than reading about it in the news yknow? It really makes you think about things. I could have been so much worse and I'm so glad it wasn't and that you guys are safe. xoxox

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  68. Jenny, Margaux and I are sending you prayers. We hope you can find some kind of normalcy in the upcoming months. Lots of love.

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  69. So glad to hear from you and to know that you guys made it through the storm! I am glad you did an epic post...what great writing and descriptions and pictures. Here on the west coast it is hard to sometimes imagine what is happening on the other side of our country, but your post was just perfect. Poor little Jack! I am so glad that he has recovered....just broke my heart to hear of his stress and the worry it must have caused you and Aaron. Can you post your Paypal email address for people who just want to send a bit of money directly? Anyway, just so glad all your family and friends were not hurt physically and many good blessings to you all. I know you will all take good care of each other. Fondly, Lori in California

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  70. Oops, just saw your Paypal link to donate! Good job!

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  71. I'm so sorry that this happened to you guys! I'm glad you're both okay and I'll be sending as many shoppers your way as possible.

    Also, this post was beautifully written.

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  72. I live in Washington State but my heart and home are on the Long Island Sound. My heart hurts for everyone struggling through this storm. We have formed a group of artists on FB (Kindred Souls for Sandy) - artists are donating a piece of their art to be auctioned with the entire proceed of each auction being paid directly to the Red Cross or Salvation Army. Hopefully, everyone will find a venue to make a contribution to aid in the recovery ... Thoughts and prayers are sent your way.

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  73. Hello, I just placed an order, but also attempted to make a separate donation via paypal.....I received a message from paypal advising me to check my activity.....can you please verify that you received an order from me, as well as a separate donation? Thank you..
    Alice

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  74. Hi Jenny and Family,
    I was really worried about all of you during and after Sandy!! I remembered you were close to the coast also, we live on a small island off the coast of North Carolina so hurricanes and storms are a big part of our life. We were lucky this time except for the oceanfront but the damage I have seen in your area is heartbreaking! At least you all made it thru in one piece and it will a be behind you some day soon.Our island had just finished cleaning up from Irene when this one came by we prayed so hard for it to go out to sea and leave everyone alone!! Take care and hugs to all of you! Michelle in Manteo, NC

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  75. Oh my gosh, Jenny.... this is so heartbreaking. It made me cry to read this! I'm so sorry for all you've gone through and are still going through, it sounds so terrifying, I can't even imagine. Like I said before, I immediately thought of you when I saw all of the destruction and I was so worried about you... I'm elated that you and your family came through ok, and that your house is still standing at least. And I'm so glad your pup is ok now, oh my gosh, how scary to have that happen with him, on top of everything else. I'm spreading the word as much as I can, I want you guys to be in a safe and clean home as soon as possible!

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  76. I lived in Keansburg as a child and loved riding on that beautiful carousel and trying to grab the rings. I cried all through your blog...especially when I read how devastated your little dog was. I'm happy that you are safe and I thank you for being brave and sharing your painful experience.

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  77. Hi I'm DianD's mom and I too was brought to tears by your comentary on what you and your fellow townspeople went through. I've been through a few hurricanes in your town and I understand your plight. My heartfelt prayers go out to you during this calamity.
    Love, Mae P.

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  78. Jenny, you're such a sweet lady and reading this made me extremely sad. I live in South Florida and have experienced a couple of hurricanes but nothing to this degree. Fortunately you and you loved ones are safe. Stay strong, I'm certain that you and your community will pull through. Sending lots of positive energy your way!

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  79. Jenny,

    I am so sorry, sweetie. I thank God that you guys are okay. It is so heartbreaking to see your beautiful town so broken. I am heartbroken for you, to see all that was so lovely now completely destroyed. I know that there will be rebuilding, and the sun will shine again, but in the meantime it must be so difficult.

    I am thinking of you and keeping you and all your neighbors in my prayers,

    love, Lidy@FrenchGardenHouse

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  80. This destruction is just unbelievable and it is terrible that so many people are still without power two weeks after storm. Wishing nothing but the best for all in need at this time.

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  81. Your neighborhood looks like ouirs on Long Island. Good luck to you. andto us. We need it!

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  82. Oh my goodness! I actually shed a tear whilst reading this fully (I have tried before but my laptop died) and I still can't believe how bad it got for you guys. I remember watching this on the news and my heart dropped! Im glad you, Aaron & the pups not forgetting your friends and family are all ok. Even though I'm a tad late commenting on this post my heart goes out to you. Much love

    Lulu xx

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  83. here I am reading this nine months later. I too stayed home during the storm and was probably only a few blocks from you. Seeing these images and reading your post just brought back all those emotions. I too grew up in Keansburg and felt like so much had been ripped from us. It's great to look back and see just how far we've come. Thank you for posting this!

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Thanks so much for reading! We absolutely love to hear from you guys...so please leave a comment if the mood strikes you, or if you have any questions for us about a recipe, project, art supply , paint color, etc. Don't panic if your comment doesn't appear right away...we moderate all comments to avoid getting tons of spam. Thanks again!!
xo Jenny & Aaron