In her hit song, "Firework," Katy Perry sings the lyric, "After a hurricane, comes a rainbow." Sorry, Katy, but if there's one thing I've learned in the last year since Hurricane Sandy roared ashore, effectively dismantling my home state, and in particular, my much-beloved Jersey Shore, it's that rainbows, symbols for happiness and serenity, don't follow hurricanes. Instead, it's a roller coaster of emotions that follow, ranging from deep despondence to unending hope and pride. You realize that home is so much more than a building, but rather a community, and it's devastating to see a community so drastically changed. You realize that the worst brings out the best in people, and that kindness and the human spirit run deeper than you can ever imagine.
Even the positive emotions are those we never wish to feel again, because if we do, we know we're on yet another road back. But while it's painful to reflect on these events, we should always hold onto and remember how we felt in the immediate aftermath of and recovery from a natural disaster. We must remember them because it is these emotions that we need to tap into when looking at how to best cope with climate change. We can look at costs, statistics, numbers and probabilities, but those don't tell the whole story. They don't tell you how emotionally draining it is to have only a single photo of your home in the days and weeks after a storm, and have that photo taken by an aircraft from thousands of feet up in the air. They don't tell you how heartbreaking it is to hear from friends that only their foundations, or worse, nothing, remain.
I personally never want to feel the way I did one year ago, and nor would I wish it upon anyone else. This is why we must take steps to prepare for, mitigate and adapt to the potential impacts of climate change. If we don't, we're going to be riding emotional roller coasters, as opposed to boardwalk roller coasters, much more frequently than we should.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Floods/storms, Resilience
Location: Ocean Beach, Lavallette, NJ