Thursday, May 15, 2014

Restoring our Shore

As we celebrate the beginning of spring and look forward to the warmer weather, here in Ocean County we are also still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Life as we knew it changed forever on October 29 2012. Our beautiful beach front communities which everyone in Ocean County proudly called home lay destroyed in the path of Hurricane Sandy.  Families struggled to find alternate housing while waiting for FEMA and their insurance companies to access the damage so they can start rebuilding. Yes, everyone is rebuilding. The one thing that I am proudest of is the wonderful spirit of the people in this area.  Whole communities have lost everything. Not just their homes but their schools, banks, supermarkets, and their daily way of life. They are reduced to living in rental properties with the few remaining procession lovingly placed in storage waiting for the day that they can rebuild and return to their homes.

Working at Storage Station in Toms River, and South Toms River has really given me a front row seat to the devastation that these survivors have endured. In the weeks following the disaster unit after unit was rented to hold the few undamaged items that were left in their homes.  Everybody that walked through our doors looking for a storage unit had a unique, but similar story. Some of our tenants were displaced to towns farther away as things filled up in Ocean County, some stayed with relatives that were fortunate enough to not sustain heavy damage, and some were living in their cars. Children were displaced from their schools, the elderly were disrupted from their social activities, and many lost their employment now that their place of business was destroyed.

Everyone had a sad story to tell, but the similar cord running through all of their stories was the spirit of rebuilding. No one wanted to leave their homes and relocate to another area. This was their home and everyone wanted to restore and return to the towns and communities that they love.

Some of the hardest hit areas were our resort towns that the rest of the country flock to in the summer to enjoy their beauty, boardwalks, and beaches. Ask anyone and they will tell you that the Jersey Shore is the place to be in the summer.  Most of these towns no longer have boardwalks, rides, or stands. They have all been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Just driving through Seaside Heights, Lavallette, or Ortley Beach after the storm made you feel like you were in a war zone. Block after block revealed  just how much damage we sustained. Homes sat in the middle of the street completely lifted from their foundations, and all of our beach dunes were destroyed leaving us vulnerable to any new storm that came this way. Most people did not have power for days, and in some cases weeks. Complete towns were closed until officials from the gas and electric companies could fix what needed to be fixed in order to make it safe for residents to return. The devastation of our beautiful towns was hard to look at. Now almost five months later, construction is at its peak. Everyone is determined that by Memorial Day weekend the shore will be open for business. Our boardwalks, rides, and stands will be up and running. Our beautiful beaches will once again be full of summer tourists trying to get away from the hustle and bustle, relaxing as they enjoy the gorgeous summer breezes.

As spring unfolds, I am now starting to see little by little, our new tenants finally starting to rebuild their lives. Some have completed the work on their homes and are able to move back, some have longer to go.  As they come to pay their bill, or stop in for a chat I hear about how their children are adjusting to the new school that they had to transfer to, or a special cherished item that they thought they had lost forever has been recovered by someone in the next town and returned to them. The spirit of community is strong down here and no hurricane or disaster can take that away from us. I have seen lost pets returned to their owners through the power of Facebook, and a feeling of brotherly love that I thought was all but gone. It amazes me that through such a terrible disaster the people of Ocean County have remained resilient and strong. We were bent but we did not break.

Storage Station worked diligently through this tough time to help anyone that came through our doors. We made sure that anyone that needed to store their belongings were treated like family and all knew that they could come to our office with their storage problems and we would bend over backwards to accommodate their needs. We kept our rates affordable,  and customer service our top priority.  We wanted everyone to know that our company cares about this community and will do whatever we can to service the needs of the tenants that store with us.

As time goes on and things return to somewhat normal the one thing that I notice is that through this disaster we have all learned that the worst can happen. Now you would think that would make us bitter and apprehensive, but the opposite is true. This horrific disaster made all of us realize that even though you lose material processions, life is still good at the Jersey Shore. People that have struggled to find employment are now happily working, and each milestone that we celebrate is a community effort seen to its fruition.

I am proud to live and work in such a great community where more emphasis is placed on helping thy neighbor instead of running over them, where every person proudly does his or her best to return their homes and communities to their former glory days. We are so grateful to the rest of the country for their outpouring of love and support, and will never forget the way we felt when we knew that we were not alone in this, that the rest of the country had our back.

In that spirit we want you to know that Storage Station has your back in this also. We will be here for our beloved community in these tough times, knowing that everyone is in this together. Our both locations in Toms River are here to serve you in your time of need. We have units available and waiting so you can feel comfortable in the fact that while you are working hard to rebuild your homes and businesses, we will have a place for all of your cherished processions that is dry and accessible. We also have parking  spots available at our South Toms River location for your RV’s, boats, or trailers. So please call us if you are in need of storage. I promise that your experience with us will be one filled with compassion, and friendliness. After all, we are all in this together.

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