A Perfect Storm
Hurricane Sandy is a good reminder of why we should all still get out to vote
I’m a Jersey girl, born and bred. No matter where I move or where I plant new roots, I am now and forever will be a Jersey girl. I have spent time every summer of my life at the Jersey Shore – from the southern shores of Cape May and Atlantic City to the northern shores of Point Pleasant, Belmar Beach, and Seaside Heights. This is not the Jersey Shore made famous by the TV show. The Jersey Shore I know was a haven for families during the warm summer months and the birthplace of iconic American nostalgia, among them the Miss America pageant, salt water taffy and the boardwalk. My great-grandmother, a cleaning woman, bought 9 houses, one for each of her children. My grandmother’s house was in Atlantic City and my family spent much time there. As a teenager and throughout my early 20s, my friends and I would go and stay at the family house just to get away. To now see the devastation that my home state has endured is surreal. But I know that we will rebuild. It won’t happen overnight, it may not even happen in the next few months, but I am confident the Jersey Shore will reclaim its place as a summer destination for families and that the other affected areas will be restored.
This storm has been a blessing and a burden. Many people will wonder how I could say that a storm like this could ever be a blessing. Lives have been lost, homes and communities have been decimated, families are without power, water and food. However, we have seen Americans come together in support of each other, regardless of party affiliation, regardless of differences. In a year when we’ve seen a great deal of partisanship made worse by an impending presidential election, we saw New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie and President Barack Obama stand shoulder to shoulder, with Christie praising the president and his administration just days before the most critical election in my lifetime. It served as a reminder that at the end of the day, we all want the best for our nation. Though I have not always been a fan of my governor, I am happy to have his leadership as we work through this challenge.
For obvious reasons, I’m sure anyone can understand why I would say that the storm would be a burden. Right now many people are just trying to get by. They are trying to rebuild their lives, which is much more important than many other things that are going on. There are some people who might think that voting should be afterthought, that figuring out where the next meal will come from and how communities will be rebuilt is priority number one. But this storm has brought back to the forefront of this election season another hard line difference between the president and Governor Romney – the responsibility of the federal government to provide disaster support to states. While Governor Romney says that he would shift responsibility for emergency management to the states and private sector, those same families whose priorities are on rebuilding should also be questioning what type of support they would receive if FEMA changed under a Romney presidency. In my view, these are the times when the federal government should step in and help. We have heard state and city government officials saying that the response from the federal government is just what they need in these types of disasters.
This is a time when we need everyone to turn out to the polls even if the lights aren’t back on and even if you haven’t showered for days. This storm has reminded us that there are important issues that we should be focusing on, like how our communities will be supported when a natural disaster strikes. If we can support other countries when they suffer a devastating earthquake or tsunami, the people of this nation should expect help from their government. Sandy has also shown that we can get past political turmoil and gridlock; we can come together, even during a critical election season. But more than anything, Sandy has reminded me that we have a responsibility to vote. A decision not to vote could mean that the next time disaster strikes New Jersey, New York, or any other state in this country, the response could look very different. This storm perfectly outlined yet another difference between the choices for President. The responsibility is now on each of us to weigh in and cast our vote for the candidate that has the American people as a priority.