“Do you remember when I called the hotel?” My neighbor Bonnie asked as we had dinner together a few weeks ago.
A sad smile appeared on my face. “How could I forget?”
It was the night before Superstorm Sandy was expected to hit New York. My husband and I had spent the entire day securing our home for the pending storm. Exhausted we went to Bonnie’s house for dinner. Other neighbors were there too. The wine was flowing, and we were laughing. It was a party atmosphere all around. Sure we all had the storm on our minds, but we didn’t take the warnings of its severity seriously. After all, we evacuated the year before for nothing. Why would we leave our home this time?
Every few minutes someone’s cell phone rung. All of our friends and family were frantically worried about us at the beach. Everyone thought we were nuts to want to stay. Everyone was urging us to leave. After Bonnie’s son called, she called a hotel in a neighboring beach community. In a funny voice, she asked if they had any rooms with a view available for tonight or tomorrow. They said they did, and we all laughed….
How stupid were we?
Fortunately, our power was shut off the early the next morning, which prompted everyone to flee the beach. After all, on a good day, we’d flood without power. Even though we left, never in our wildest dreams did we expect the destruction that we’d return to. Never did it dawn on us that lives would change forever.
One thousand ninety five days later, the fortunate ones like me and Bonnie, can laugh about what we went through. After all, when you are living in darkness for five weeks straight with no heat or hot water, during a frigid November, and working from dawn to dusk carting out your destroyed belongings you need to find some humor in your days. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get through them.
Three years later, I can reflect back on the weeks that followed Superstorm Sandy and smile. Don’t get me wrong; by far it was the most difficult time of my life. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. But a lot of good came out of Sandy as well…
Before the hurricane, I would stress over the silliest things. Minor disturbances and challenges would make me crazy. Now I see them for what they are, nuisances. All that really matters in life is the health and safety of yourself and those you love. If you have that you can get through anything. Sandy made me stronger and Sandy taught me how wonderful and compassionate people can be, especially in a time of crisis.
But like I said, I am one of the lucky ones…
Today is third year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. One thousand ninety five days later there are STILL people who are not yet back in their homes. Can you even imagine? Unless you live or visit one of the hardest hit beach communities, no one understands that people are still struggling to survive. There are so many people who only have a slab of concrete or a condemned structure to call home. I prayed last year that my Hurricane Sandy post would end differently, I hoped that I could say life for everyone was back to the new normal. Three years later, I really wonder if it ever will be…