Guest Author NJ Senator Loretta Weinburg: The Week of Sandy Finally Ends

The week of Sandy! It's been exhausting, horrendous, and astonishing in some ways.

Facebook was my friend and a friend to many throughout the week. I posted every bit of information I was able to attain, and received messages from facebook "friends" who had horrendous problems during the week. It is a great communication tool, and we used it to get help for some in real need. Getting information out was important to so many who only had cell phones or IPads to stay in touch.

President Barack Obama has shown us all what a great leader does in times of crisis. He has a terrific FEMA agency, and they were on the ground before the storm hit with supplies and equipment. They have been a source of tremendous help with everything from blankets to generators.

Governor Chris Christie has been a true leader throughout. Hope I don't offend too many of you with that shout-out, but the Governor has earned it!  He's had conference calls with elected officials at least once a day, and his cabinet is truly engaged in everything from testing the viability of roads to making sure hospitals are safe and operating. Election rules have been loosened dramatically, and we'll soon see how all that works out. More on that later in this diary. By Executive Order, the Governor even eliminated the Bergen County Blue Laws.  So beside voting early, you can shop in Bergen on Sunday  - that is really a "first"!

The People of New Jersey have for the most part acted with resilience, patience and determination.  In my area in Bergen, we've dealt with some serious issues of seniors in high rise buildings who needed priority attention from PSEG, and some who needed food and blankets in the interim. So many stories to tell.

First responders have done what they always do in such times - worked to keep all of us as safe as possible, sometimes even without our own cooperation!

Utility workers have come from all over the country. It is amazing. Estimates are we have about 8000 out of town workers housed and fed in New Jersey. Even the logistics of that was amazing. I know many of our residents are still without power and it is cold and awful. but considering the magnitude of the job, these workers are outstanding. We're getting there!

The Election process this year is very new for all of us. Under the direction of Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, all types of deadlines were extended. You can even vote on line. In several Bergen towns, alternate polling sites had to be found, machines moved, and voters notified. Most Municipal Clerks have worked overtime setting up complete plans for their communities and notifying their voters about alternate voting places. It's been no easy task. The County Board of Elections and the Supt. of Elections office along with the County Clerk have all worked for hours, many of them in the freezing cold county administrative offices with no power. These Public employees have, and are continuing to do everything possible to make sure that everyone gets their sacred right to vote.

You can still cast an early vote at your County Clerk's office until 4:30 today. It will probably be quite awhile before we find out what really happened in this election - even right here in New Jersey. It's going to be an interesting textbook study on how our election laws might change more permanently.

New Jerseyans are not alone. We are all in shock about the devastation and loss of life caused by this horrific storm. We do have reason to grieve. But we know that New Jerseyans are not alone. We have the resources of a great federal government working on our behalf. We have leaders and citizens determined to rebuild and regain some normalcy in our collective lives. Thank you to all who are and will play an important part in that future.

By the time I write this column next week I hope we will know who our new leaders are.  Of course, I am looking forward to re-electing President Barack Obama. However, I am sure the popular vote for him will be somewhat depressed, because New Jersey. New York and parts of New England are home to so many Obama voters, and they have been most hard hit by Sandy.

We all know what we have to do the next 36 hours or so. So let's just do it!

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