Local News

Separate realities

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Editors note: Amanda Lamb is in the northeast United States this week reporting on clean-up and recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy tore through the region two weeks ago.

While the hustle and bustle of urban life continues to swirl around them, life has literally stopped in small pockets of New York and New Jersey.

You drive through streets lined with cafes and shops, people listening to their iPods and checking their text messages and turn a corner to see piles of drywall, insulation and children’s pictures strewn in front yards for blocks.

Unlike the Gulf States after Hurricane Katrina, the northeast is so densely populated and so commercially driven that life for many people has resumed as normal by necessity.

But for their neighbors, in places like Island Park and Long Beach, N.Y., everything is at a standstill while they figure out what to do and where to go next.

Generations of families who lived in the same neighborhoods are now homeless. Having lost practically all of their belongings, they are holding on to any small pieces of their former lives that may be salvageable.

One hurricane victim who rode out the storm on her bed as it floated around the room found her grandmother’s wedding photos, water-logged and muddy, beneath the debris after the storm surge receded. In a desperate attempt to save them, she laid them in the brief sunshine that peeked through the overcast skies Monday afternoon.

Unlike the Gulf States where everyone was hurting, there are now two New Jerseys and two New Yorks.

There is a place where everything goes on as normal – where Sandy was a mild inconvenience and is quickly becoming a distant memory. And there is the place where Sandy wreaked such havoc on people’s lives that they can’t imagine how they will rebuild.

Long after the volunteers leave and the news crews lose interest, the people in this place will still be struggling.

It’s important that we don’t forget them.

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