Carmen Logue gets chemotherapy regularly. She has stomach cancer, and when asked she will tell you that she doesn’t think she’ll be alive in five years.
“I’m scared. I’m hopeful, but I’m scared because of how many treatments that I’ve been on,” she said. “After awhile they kind of run out of chemos. I have the lord, so I’m not worried. If I die I get to be with him.”
Logue was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2011, a month after Hurricane Irene flooded her Squire Street home. It’s her second bout with cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, but had been clear for several years before her recent diagnosis. On disability due to nerve damage she says she got from the original treatments, Logue’s world was turned upside down yet again in October, when Hurricane Sandy came through, flooding her home just weeks before she was ready to move back.
“I lived there 25 years and before Irene, our basements got flooded just two times, one was a nor’easter. With a nor’easter you have to expect it.”
So now, with no job, little money, and no home (she is staying with a friend), Logue struggles. She has been on several types of chemo and doesn’t think she will be able to move back into her Squire Street home for at least six months.
“It’s kind of tough, having cancer and doing things. Like cooking. It’s
impossible some days,” she said. “I get exhausted very easily. Some days I sit on my chair and watch television and can’t do anything else. Some days I just have to eat junk food and some days I don’t eat anything because getting out of the chair is too much work.”
Logue has lost more than 50 pounds in the past year and has been in the hospital four times. She said insurance would cover some of the work that needs to be done at her home and she hopes FEMA will cover the rest, but she doesn’t expect to have the money for several months.
In addition, since Irene hit, residents of Squire Street have been asking the township, county and federal government for help. . But they were unable to convince enough members of the Township Council to help. At the time, Councilwoman Camille Ferraro said she would have been unable to promise a majority of "yes" votes for the proposal to pass. She also said there was no guarantee that DEP money would come, and that the impact of buying the homes would be $15 per taxpayer per year for the life of the bond, which could be 20 years.
But that was before Hurricane Sandy, and residents have been attending council meetings once again asking for its help. In order to get access to some of the programs the residents want to take part in, the Township Council must make the first move, they said.
“We would like them to buy us out so they can turn that street into
something that will actually be a place the water can go,” said Logue.
Township Council members decided Nov. 26 to look into what it can do to help the residents, but no course of action was decided
Residents blame a lot of things for the recent floods: Hurricanes, area development and dams up stream of the South River being released at the height of storms. But in the end the cause doesn't matter as much as the effect, and most would like to leave, but can't sell their homes, and all are tired have having to rebuild.
“I hope they can buy the homes and turn it into a water way. It’s going to get flooded every time they open the flood gates,” she said. “In Irene we would have been fine, but they opened the flood gates and we were flooded out. Jamesburg, Monroe, Spotswood. All those dams were opened and I saw water I never saw in my life until Irene.”
Fortunately, Logue's not entirely alone. Her friend Karen Scott helps get her to doctor’s appointments and looks after her, a bright spot in a scary situation (the two own the Squire Street house together though Scott doesn't live there).
“She’s gone to most of my doctors appointments with me, because people will tell you, chemo starts taking brain cells. She goes with me so she can kind of tell me what I’m supposed to do later. When I leave the office I’ve completely forgotten what they said. The call it chemobrain.”
For the time being, Logue and her two dogs will be staying with Karen, hoping that her cancer goes into remission and she will eventually be able to go to her own home. She’s also hoping that she can get some help elsewhere, either through donations of food for her or for her dogs.
“Donating food for the dogs is helpful because I am on disability and
money gets tight,” she said. “I can go to several places that give food, but l I’m on a strict diet because of my stomach, and I generally need
help with cleaning the house, preparing food, stuff like that.
There’s not a lot of places that do that kind thing for people like me.”