I am a Jersey girl. I was born and raised right here. Despite the stupid jokes and moronic cast of The Jersey Shore, I've always been proud to be from New Jersey. It isn't just the Turnpike (I have no idea what exit my town is off either the Pike or the Parkway. I don't drive toll roads) and toll booths, refineries and swamps. It's mountains and horse farms. It's beautiful beaches and the Delaware Water Gap. It's Jockey Hollow, where George Washington and his army camped through the brutal winter of 1779-1780 that was even worse than Valley Forge. It's the Barnegate Lighthouse (known to locals as Barney.) It's the AC boardwalk. It is a beautiful place to visit, when you take the time to see beyond Newark Airport.
This week, my home state was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. My family was lucky. We were without power for four days and that was it. The people of the Jersey shore -- the real Jersey Shore, not those idiots you see on MTV -- were not so lucky. Many of them lost everything, including their houses. Everything.
My summer has included time spent at the Jersey shore for as long as I can remember. LBI, Pt. Pleasant. Lavallette. When I was a kid, my grandfather would take my brother and me to Seaside every year. We looked forward to it all year. Those memories are some of my most treasured. Now, the Seaside Heights boardwalk and those rides are gone. Just. Gone. Washed into the Atlantic Ocean, washed up on the beach a mile away in some cases.
It isn't just millionaires who have homes on the Jersey shore. It's regular people. And some of those houses are gone. Just. Gone. Washed out into Route 35.
I've always thought New Jerseyans were a special breed. We're strong and resilient and we WILL rebuild the Jersey shore. It will take time, but it will happen. I absolutely believe that.
Please, if you can, donate to the Red Cross to help those who've lost so much. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. It's that easy.