Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back to Work After Hurricane Sandy: Signs of Recovery

By the time I got home from work tonight, this is the sight that greeted me. The sun was nearly setting because I had spent time at the Barnes and Noble near my school, picking up a book for my son and grabbing an iced latte. Driving to work today, my first day back from work since the hurricane, I wondered whether I was the only one thinking about  Hurricane Sandy and its effects on our lives. It turns out that was all anyone really wanted to talk about - at school, at the bank branch I stopped by on my way to the book store, and at the book store itself.

A good proportion of my students still have no power or heat in their homes. Those who do are  hosting family members and friends for meals and for overnights. My lesson plan today was to have my students play reporters, interviewing classmates about their experiences during and after the storm, and  taking notes. I modeled for them what reporters do, explaining the difference between paraphrasing and direct quotes. Tomorrow they will type their stories up. This work felt more relevant today than delving back into the work we had left behind 12 days ago - Canterbury Tales for the juniors and To Kill A Mockingbird for the freshman.

After work, I needed to deposit my paycheck and take some money out. There were more signs of the storm's effects. When I noticed the drive-through at the bank wasn't working, I stopped into the branch. It turns out the bank branch, which opened the Wednesday after the storm, still didn't have working computers. I deposited my paycheck and withdrew money the old-fashioned way. The bank teller dialed a number to ensure we had enough money in our account to withdraw the money. The teller handed me two stamped receipts - one for my deposit, the other for the withdrawal. The bank manager engaged me in a conversation as I was walking out, telling me his daughter's school still wasn't going to open for at least another week or two. It's being used to shelter displaced families.

More evidence of the hurricane's impact came at the Barnes and Noble. A lot of boxes of books were lying around and employees were busy putting books on shelves. I talked to three clerks and they all had a hard time finding the book I wanted for our son, The Hunters: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 3.

Finally, one clerk explained today was the first day the store had opened since the hurricane. Deliveries were backed up, which explained the inventory all over the store. She offered to go to the back of the store and look for the book. She returned several minutes later, holding the book aloft. I told her she was a true hero to me; my son would be so grateful to read the newly published book!

This corner of New Jersey is still recovering from the storm. Every day, things are improving. Still, the storm and its effects have created so many stories, stories I can imagine my students and my sons telling their children and their grandchildren - maybe on an evening years from now when another storm shuts the lights.

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