I’m all for the positive spin. But in Saturday’s paper, a Long Beach resident wrote a super sunshiny story about the state of things here. It’s true: the sand glistens. Toddlers toddle into the surf, and big kids tear through it on colorful boards. Summer is bright, and all this beauty breeds hope.
She did recognize the sad stories that had bound us together—bound, past tense. Back then. Way back in those awful post-Sandy days. This editorialist moved back to Long Beach in March. She goes to the beach, she writes, she makes art. I am happy for her! I have been fortunate too, and am starting to find more time myself for some old and sacred enjoyments. I just wish she had not written of our city’s recovery in the past tense. She paints happy scenes on old pieces of boardwalk. That is her story of Long Beach: old wreckage made new. I love that! That is everyone’s favorite story of all time, all through time! That is a happy ending! And, like her, that is what we have been trying to create, every day for 278 days and counting. Bless her for sharing her efforts so creatively.
I’m just afraid people reading her piece, all over Long Island, will get the sense that the story is over—that the happy ending has arrived and is being enjoyed by all. She sums it up by stating that roads were cleared, stores were opened, and homes were built. Homes were built. Just like that.
They are not built. Some are. The angst is not gone. It’s been almost nine months, and all that some of my neighbors have to show for it is a square of dirt. I hope the paper publishes the letter I wrote to remind people. Here is an excerpt, in case they don’t. People need to know that for many across the East Coast, Superstorm Sandy remains a dark fairy tale—a Disney movie turned off in the middle when summer came, so everyone else could go out and play.
“….I too celebrate the building of boardwalk sections and sandcastles, but I worry that they cast long shadows on the backstreets. Empty lots and skeletal structures sit in silence as the displaced continue to fight for insurance money and disaster aid. Stores that discounted after the storm are returning to “business as usual,” and many of the hardest hit will never benefit from their generosity. The “sad stories” that were shared are still being shared and are sadder still, but fewer are listening now.
Many of us are still struggling to get our heads above water in a sea of red tape. We have not enjoyed the glistening sand of our beloved beach this summer. Instead, we rush off to the extra job needed to pay for inspections, surveys, code requirements, permits, and architectural plans. Cars, homes, life savings, investments, and jobs are still lost. We rent apartments and make mortgage payments on one salary, with no assistance.
So please come, enjoy our city, and celebrate the comeback—but know that the return of Long Beach is still very much in progress. Many local charities understand this, including Long Beach Christmas Angel, Inc. Please help your neighbors by giving what you can.”
I admire people who see the positive, and I always strive toward it myself. My writing about the loss of my mother and our home looks for light openings everywhere. But part of the purpose of my blog was to share the ongoing struggles of Sandy survivors. I saw the stories falling from the TV like brittle branches being cut away, and I knew I needed to show the loss and also the new growth. This is why I am still writing, all these months later. I’m afraid that this editorialist’s readers will turn their attention elsewhere when they hear from a Long Beacher that Long Beach is back. I know she meant well and I’m hoping her upbeat attitude will bring people out to visit! If you do come, though, remember that many of the houses you pass while looking for a spot are unlivable, and their owners are desperate. Thank you for being part of our story, and please keep hoping and helping so we can all write our happy endings.
Feel free to copy and paste the link to this blog so we can spread the word. Long Beach is COMING back, houses ARE BEING BUILT and NEED TO BE BUILT, and we need your awareness and support!