Last night, a fire raged in the town next to where I grew up. It was the downtown we shopped in. It was where my parents grew up. I spent the first year and a half of my life living there.
It was a huge 7 alarm fire. Firetrucks from neighboring towns came to help put it out, some from pretty far away, to use their ladder trucks because the structures that were burning were multi-story apartment buildings under construction.
Bound Brook, NJ has had its share of disasters. The main street was flooded in 1999 by hurricane Floyd. Twelve foot high water marks wiped out stores and businesses. They rebuilt and the gov't put up water barriers to keep the nearby Raritan River out of the town.
In order to erect these new apartment buildings, several old useless buildings were knocked down.
When I was a child, this area of the downtown had an active business section, a continuation of the main street. There was a fishmonger, a butcher, a bicycle chop, a shoe shop. People used these stores. Before the supermarkets and chain stores arrived, many years later, this area was viable.
But, things always change.
The houses for the most part remained, along with the people, usually somewhat new to the country, as were so many families in the 40s-50s.
And it remains that way as the big old houses were converted to apartments.
It had a heart beat.
It is alive and, until last night's fire, it was a safe place to live and raise ones' children.
Now, there are ashes. The new buildings are in ruins. The people who lost their homes wouldn't have been able to live in those luxury high rises....
But, luckily, not too much damage was done to the old neighborhoods.
The stores and families of my youth are long gone, but there are people, nice, hardworking people still living in that end of town.
Bound Brook will once again rise from the ashes, or flood waters, to shine again.
Thank you to all the first responders who saved so much with their unceasing efforts.