Appreciation Replaces Devastation as New Jersey Begins Recovery

As a lifelong Jersey girl, I don't know if I've ever been so proud of our first responders, our healthcare professionals and our resilient people who mourn great losses but still are fighting back to rebuild tomorrow.

I've been in constant contact with our hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the storm, and now its aftermath. We had two hospitals evacuate and several nursing homes as well. All occurred seamlessly, which is amazing under the circumstances. New Jersey's healthcare workers are second to none.

Widespread power losses crippled our state, and at one time nearly half of the state's acute care hospitals were running on generators. But they remained open, caring for their communities. In the five days since Sandy struck the Garden State, our hospitals report that their Emergency Rooms are much busier than normal; some hospitals are reporting ER cases at two to four times their average. That's testament to hospitals' place in their communities. Our citizens recognize them as the safety net that is always there for them. I'm so proud of that.

I know much more needs to be done to restore power all over the state. Access to gasoline also remains a major issue for people across New Jersey, including healthcare workers who need to travel to and from hospitals, nursing homes and home health appointments. We continue to work with the state on that critical healthcare issue.

Throughout the storm and its aftermath, our hospitals and other healthcare providers have appreciated the response of our state officials, starting with the Governor and including our state Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd and her team. They have listened and reacted and responded. And our Governor especially has been out front leading the state. Not too many leaders have the power to postpone Halloween and have a state full of kids comply.

I especially appreciate the Governor's heartfelt comments about the devastation at the Jersey Shore. The Shore is a treasure. So many of my memories of childhood, teenage years and now, memories with my own son, are rooted here - and I know the same goes for many of you. Springsteen captures it well in Jersey Girl, "down the shore everything's alright…." So true. The Jersey Shore is our place of respite, relaxation and renewal. We drive over the bridges to our favorite beaches and roll down the windows to smell the salt air.

This week it wasn't alright at all down the shore, and it won't be for some time. Some of the scenes from our favorite memories are forever altered. This summer, my son and his friends often rode on the roller coaster in Seaside that now lies in the Atlantic Ocean. I stare at the news photos in stunned awe at the power of nature. But those rollercoaster memories will remain, and new memories lie ahead. We just need to make them.

Written by Betsy Ryan at 20:09

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