I can’t believe that nine months have passed since Sandy hit us. It’s even tougher to figure out why I’ve passed through communities that are still struggling with repairs and payments. I’ve heard so many tales about residents not getting the insurance company compensations or timely and logical answers, and people seem to be getting more and more frustrated about a systematic procedure that if one may judge, doesn’t really work too well.

As individuals attempt to climb out of the difficulty and despair of being displaced and left adrift, I thought I would continue to ask some of our own musicians about their tales dealing with the storm and the personal, anguish-ridden by-product it left behind. I wanted to know how they’ve been dealing with getting back on top. How did they survive, and what do they plan on doing now that much of this is starting to appear in their rear view mirror? This week we swing back to Ocean County and the region of Toms River.

 

Vince Lotito – Guitarist – Moses Mumford

“The day after the storm, when I was taking inventory of what had been damaged, I was hoping it was just stuff like tables and couches, which could easily be replaced. I mean, appliances like our dishwasher and other appliances were all fried, also. But when I got to the place where my guitars and music gear had been stored, my heart began to sink as I open the door to water pouring out up to my knees and realizing that I had lost thousands of dollars worth of guitars, amps, recording gear and more.

It wasn’t the money per se—well, I mean, that hurts, too—but it was the memories that went into every show I played with them, every song I wrote on them. Every lullaby I sang to my son on them since he was a baby. All the good times and great jam sessions that were just as much a part of guitars as the wood and wires they were made of. All the uncountable hours they had been there for me during the tough times in my life—just completely gone. And after Sandy left us with nothing, those friends, as I call them, couldn’t be there for me to help me out of the palpable darkness.

Fast forward with money being tight even before the storm, I have found some new six-string friends since Sandy took my old ones. They may not hold the same value as my Gibson Les Paul Customs did, but it’s a new beginning. We are on our way to getting back to normal and rebuilding our lives in a new home. And what’s equally important is that now I have new things to write about thanks to the wrath of Sandy.”

 

Chris Rockwell – Musician – Slam Poet

“My girlfriend and I just moved into our house near Island Heights in Toms River in October. We were just settling in when we caught wind of Sandy. I had the idea to fill up empty plastic one-gallon milk jugs with water and leave them in the freezer in case the power went out, which worked very well because we lost power for 14 days total, 11 the first time. Of course, we just stocked the fridge, but we lost most of the food as well as some work time. Both of our jobs had no power for a while, especially Erica’s, because she works at the Ocean County Mall.

There were houses all around us that either flooded or were destroyed by trees and other crushing debris. The first night, we could hear everything crashing in the distance, and it got closer and closer throughout the long night.

Fortunately, we had family in Brick. Family is what got us through. They lost power too, but we had all types of tricks we used. The stoves were gas powered, so we boiled big pots of water and it actually heated the house. We showered in my parents’ RV. My brother and I helped a family acquaintance from Cherry Quay open up his crawlspace beneath his house and clear it out. It took three days. So much was destroyed, but we managed to save a lot for him.

I usually record at Ugly Door Studio in Toms River. It’s owned by Jason Portizo, who plays bass in my band.

The day they got power back in his studio was November 3, and that day we recorded a song I wrote about the storm. It’s going to be on a compilation we’re releasing soon, featuring more than a handful of other talented locals including Bog Iron Bloom, Accidental Seabirds, Just Kait, A Criminal Risk, Josh “Dogmatic” Matson and plenty more. We are all extremely thankful that everyone pulled together and got through this mayhem.”

 

As we continue to advance toward the one year date of Sandy, we ask that you continue to send us your impressions about the storm, the aftereffect, and your overall reaction to this ongoing situation. john@theaquarian.com

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