My Hoboken Sandy Experience

Hoboken writer Greg DeLucia recounts Hurricane Sandy

Freelance writer and Hoboken resident Greg DeLucia wrote a story about his experiences in town after Hurricane Sandy. How did it compare to yours?

“I live on 1st and Clinton and my fiancé and I were without power for a week. While it was inconvenient and definitely emotionally draining, we know we were incredibly lucky. I decided to write a piece on it – an honest account of my thoughts on Hoboken before Sandy and my thoughts on Hoboken now.”

My Hoboken Sandy Experience

By Greg DeLucia

My Week With Sandy: Without light, seeing my town in a whole new one

On the first Friday night in a post-Sandy world, I passed by a few drunk girls and frat dudes at The Shannon, one of the many drinking establishments near my apartment on First Street in Hoboken. Normally, I would shake my head at these people because the girls are overly Valley and annoying and the guys give me douche chills. Inevitably, they will wake me up via fistfight or J-E-T-S chant at 3 am on their way home because they can’t handle their drink. But not Friday. On Friday, these people inspired me. Somehow, they were able to find happiness in an otherwise bleak situation.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’ve lived in Hoboken for over three years now and I don’t think much of it. Previously, I lived in Jersey City and loved it because it had culture and a lot of things going on. But this place? Mostly white kids who brought the suburbs with them and, while I am in fact a white kid from the suburbs, I’ve always been drawn to cities so I could be a part of the proverbial melting pot. I have a joke about Hoboken: It’s kind of like Brooklyn… for people that fear diversity. I once heard the members of A Tribe Called Quest talk about growing up around rappers and DJs, helping them become hip hop legends. If that’s the case, I have argued, then Hoboken will raise a generation of kids who are really good at brunch.

Before the storm hit, I suggested that David Simon will, as he did with Treme and Katrina, create a show about Hoboken’s recovery in the aftermath. Unlike the former, which is rich with great music and interesting characters, this show would focus on 20-somethings who have to wait on longer lines to get into lounges and fusion restaurants and maybe the folks from Cake Boss as they struggle to make a cake in the shape of a storm surge. And unfortunately, unlike Treme, people would actually watch.

Now, after Sandy, and having had spent 6 days and 14 hours without power, I am starting to rethink my position on all of this. Sure, the vapid idiots are out there. There’s the completely able guy I encountered who, after I walked up nine stories in his building to make sure he and the other tenants were not in need of water or medical attention (humble brag #1), yelled at me because I didn’t have ice. After one day. Was it so you had something to chill your martini with, stupid? Or the girl in her 20′s in the BMW who yelled at the pedestrian to get out of her way… as he was helping survey damage to a storefront. And I can’t forget the older gentleman who beeped at the car in front of him… as said car yielded to two people carrying trays of food in front of FEMA’s command station. But for those three horrendous incidents, and for all the sadness and devastation surrounding us, I have encountered so much goodness in this little town of mine it has been eye opening.

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5 Comments on "My Hoboken Sandy Experience"


Member
jabrph
2 years 9 months ago

Hi. Loved reading your story as I shared the same harrowing experience. I would like, if I may, to provide a bit of historical context that your story lacked. I was born and raised in Hoboken. Yes a dreaded “BNR”, an epithet that my generation at 40, actually has come to own, much like the modern day “Y’at” of New Orleans. We are an unusual variety of “BNR”, our generation, as we are indistinguishable from the more recent transplants to our city. The city in which I was raised, oddly, was the antithesis of that which you characterize. It was like Brooklyn but Brooklynites feared and chastised it due to an over abundance of “diversity”. A term embraced by the sheltered, suburban raised middle class who romanticize what in the 1970′s was a euphemism for the more accurate “poverty”. Hoboken then was wonderfully “diverse”. I a French Creole/Metis with family from Quebec to Baton Rouge grew up speaking fluent Spanish, spotty Italian, and with a thorough working knowledge of the East and West Indian cultures in which I was raised. There was no color line. We often referred to outsiders as “white” (although I am, what I suppose you would characterize as exactly that) because we were without color, or more accurately of the generic colorless patina that is poverty and the experience of a failed blue collar community. There existed at the time a wonderful thriving food scene from every corner of the New and Old Worlds and with the arrival of “urban pioneers” in the late 1980′s a thriving arts and music scene. Actually the City often reminded of New Orleans. Another City near and dear to my heart. Old, the product of antiquated tradition, having fallen on hard times, but somehow turning some of that misfortune into an admirable “grit”. I sometimes call Hoboken The Vieux Carre of The North. I have met a New Orleans resident from New York who refers to “The Quarter” as “Hoboken by the Gulf”. So what happened? A lot. I recently read a bloggers piece in which a New Orleanian was offering advice, post Sandy, to New Jerseyians. “Beware carpet baggers that will transform your community into their vision of how it should be rebuilt”. This is sadly what often occurred in New Orleans post Katrina. In Hoboken it occurred much earlier. In the late 1970′s and early 80′s as the “diverse” homes and apartment buildings were eradicated, often by accidental? fires, to make way for more pleasing and appealing homes. The gritty, quirky, tough, colorful, “diverse” (read poor) Hoboken was razed. To be scooped up by developers. Characters straight out of “Treme”. Making homes for the generic, white, suburban residents you describe. People who moved here simply for convenience but, to use your own words “thought nothing of it”. In many ways the events of Sandy, to someone like myself, was the physical drowning of a native culture that died many years before. The current residents (including myself) who could not believe what has happened; who have felt the range of emotions from fear to helplessness to anger now understand what the older residents felt culturally and emotionally some 20 to 30 years ago. It is my hope however that the positive experience that Sandy brought yourself can create something new in Hoboken. A phoenix to rise from the ashes (to use such a cliche). Perhaps the shared trauma, want, humiliation, and sense of the death of what was “normal” that we have now all experienced (the BNR’s now both culturally and physically) can unite us into something resembling more of what Hoboken once was.

Member
HAWK
2 years 9 months ago

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In a town where everyone lives so close it seems we were all so far apart prior to the storm. Neighbors have gone out of their way for each other and this is how it should be. I guess we do take care of our own. Hopefully this bonding stays around even after we rebuild.

Member
212transplant
2 years 9 months ago

Greg’s right about the culture in this city, and beyond being good at brunch, they’re Facebook experts too. What a slamming resume of skills.

Member
Shayyho
2 years 9 months ago

Very nice article, however I 100% disagree about your comments in regards to Hoboken.

Being a white, suburban 27 year old I could take your comments to heart. Yes, I do love a good brunch, however have you ever taken the time to talk with a stranger in a park, or chat with fellow dog owners in the dog run, or even taken the time (besides helping the pharmacy) to speak with local business owners? Maybe you have not been fortunate enough to take in all that this city has to offer. Or maybe you have not seen the kindness and generosity (prior to the storm) of the residents. Whether it is the Steven’s students that have helped carry groceries or the anonymous resident that saw my car vandalized (and left a note which ultimately led to the vandal), I have never been more appreciative of where I live.

Hoboken is a true community and if you haven’t realized it before, I am glad that you can see the positive in this tragedy and to realize the true joy in being a Hoboken resident!!
[quote comment=”218208″]Greg’s right about the culture in this city, and beyond being good at brunch, they’re Facebook experts too. What a slamming resume of skills.[/quote]

Member
jerseyjack
2 years 9 months ago

Always interesting to hear someone else’s perspective. I am a writer as well; here was my experience if anyone cares to read it:
http://saltinwound.com/2012/11/09/hurricane-in-hoboken-my-story/quote comment=”218210″]Very nice article, however I 100% disagree about your comments in regards to Hoboken.Being a white, suburban 27 year old I could take your comments to heart. Yes, I do love a good brunch, however have you ever taken the time to talk with a stranger in a park, or chat with fellow dog owners in the dog run, or even taken the time (besides helping the pharmacy) to speak with local business owners? Maybe you have not been fortunate enough to take in all that this city has to offer. Or maybe you have not seen the kindness and generosity (prior to the storm) of the residents. Whether it is the Steven’s students that have helped carry groceries or the anonymous resident that saw my car vandalized (and left a note which ultimately led to the vandal), I have never been more appreciative of where I live.Hoboken is a true community and if you haven’t realized it before, I am glad that you can see the positive in this tragedy and to realize the true joy in being a Hoboken resident!![/quote]