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Seven hundred and thirty days later….

Seven hundred and thirty days later….

“Is that a mobile home?” My mother asked as we were driving through a neighboring beach community this past summer.

“Yes,” I answered, quietly.

“They’re allowed to park it in the street?” She asked, innocently.

“Yes.  After all, what choice do they have? They have to live somewhere.” I replied.  “Look at the house that it is parked in front of.  It’s still condemned.  They probably didn’t have insurance and don’t have money to repair or rebuild it.  Under the circumstances, that mobile home is probably the best they can do.”

“But Hurricane Sandy was two years ago.  How can that be?”

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I’m sorry I can’t take current pictures of people’s homes. They live there and have suffered enough…

I didn’t have an answer for my mom, because I don’t understand how it is possible either. I can’t fathom how many people still are in a state of turmoil, living without habitable homes seven hundred and thirty days after the storm wreaked its havoc.  Equally or possibly more sad is the fact that these men, women and children continue to suffer, alone.  Unless you live in one of the hard hit areas, like I do, you’d have no idea the destruction from the super storm continues to destroy people’s lives each and every day.

Two years later, driving through these hardest hit towns, you feel such a mix of emotions.  In a lot of ways the towns have received a much needed facelift.  After all, destruction brings construction.  Many new businesses and restaurants have opened.  In a way these additions have rejuvenated the neighborhoods.  But there is a cost. Old time favorite stores and restaurants are gone forever, unable to afford to repair and rebuild.  Their absence is felt constantly – especially since a hospital was one of the casualties.

New construction has to be higher to meet the revised codes.  So now beautiful, enormous houses have been erected where beach bungalows once stood.  These new homes are gorgeous. But not every house on a block needed to be elevated or rebuilt.  Some homes miraculously were able to sustain the storm surge and winds.  These survivor houses now are completely overshadowed by the new overbearing giants taking over the neighborhood. But they are the fortunate ones.  Other people just have a slab of foundation to call their own.

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I am one of the fortunate ones.  My home was repaired and rebuilt within six months of the storm.  My town fared slightly better than many of the neighboring towns. It is amazing how much of a difference a five foot elevation can make.  Although life appears normal for my friends, neighbors, and me none of us are the same.  We are all completely scarred from the aftermath of the storm.  Not one of us can make it through an evening without mentioning Sandy. She is always present in our heads and our hearts.

Sandy changed us all.  I look at life differently since the storm. Before the storm, 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.  As we existed for weeks in the cold, wet, and darkness, carting out our destroyed belongings while helping neighbors at the same time, I discovered a strength I never thought possible. Also I learned how wonderful and compassionate people can be, especially in a time of crisis.

Hopefully by this time next year everyone will have a place to once again call home….

 

 

30 thoughts on “Seven hundred and thirty days later….

    1. Loretta – thank you mom… Unfortunately, like everything, no one truly understands a situation until they live it… I hope no one has to live through a natural disaster, but sadly it will happen again and again…

  1. I know how this one feels, and wanted to offer a hug. You’ll eventually look back on it all as a “new normal,” but it takes a long time. We were hit by 3 hurricanes in 6 weeks back on 2004 and bought a house in early 2005. Many of our neighboring homes were still wearing blue tarps instead of roofs six months later when we closed. And you’re right, neighbors who don’t have means to rebuild can take a long time. A year and a half after the storm, there was one house at the entrance to our neighborhood where you could see bright light inside even though it was uninhabited because sunlight poured through the missing roof and ceiling into the bedrooms. Things do settle back to normal, though, eventually. That house eventually had a child’s swing hanging from the oak in the front yard and a family living there again. Today, you would never know, unless you knew the history of the place. And your town will get there, too. Big hugs from far south in Florida!

    1. Sometimes – big hugs back… I know you understand… You are right. I am already looking at things as the new normal.. I know it will take time and everyone will eventually return home, but two years is just so long….

  2. There will never be a time when you do not think about Sandy and her effects—that is very understandable You guys weathered the storm and came through it and now that you are on the other side you can definitely see what really matters in life. I am so glad you and Marc were able to rebuild and get your lives back on track even though you met so many challenges. I hope this never ever happens again to you ! Nice post but an emotional one to write.

    1. Beth Ann- thank so much. Big hugs. you are right. Sandy will always be in our hearts and our minds. But that is probably a good thing. It keeps us grounded…

    1. Brian – I know.. But that is the problem with media. they focus on the stories when they happen and then they move onto the next big event.. Unfortunately so many people are left behind..

    1. Linda – it is funny, even being 20 minutes away from the shores people forget.. unless you live it / see it you have no idea..

  3. I think it’s a sad normal, that those who aren’t as financially well off as some, are unable to put their lives back together for a long time, if ever, and have little or no help. Poorer people can’t donate to political parties (any political party, Canadian, etc.) and so there’s no motivation to help — so says my cynical viewpoint.

    I like how William Kendall put it, a Before Sandy and After Sandy. That will be the case for all those affected.

    Purrs and peace.

  4. This is so sad, and yet so incredibly hopeful at the same time. You write your experience in such a heart felt adn powerful way that it lingers. I share your wish for everyone to have a place they can call home.

  5. It’s so true that unless you live in one of those towns, you can’t really fathom the destruction. I lost electricity for a week and was staying with a friend. I was complaining about it until I watched the news and learned about people who REALLY had the right to complain.

    1. Meredith – Until you experience something you can never fully understand. We think we can, but we really can’t…

    1. Meowmeowmans – I am sorry about your friends.. It breaks my heart that so many people are still in the situation they are in…

    1. Julie – thank you so much… Until you experience something you never fully understand. I am so sorry you experienced…

  6. I’ve never been through a natural disaster, Hilary–but I did go through an unnatural one. We lost everything. My pet pig was killed and my mother had a series of strokes that eventually killed her. It’s taken a long time to recover from that emotionally. I think I can relate on some level.

    1. Norma – A disaster is a disaster… and you definitely experienced a disaster… all these experiences shape and change us… Hugs

  7. Hilary
    I lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake. The destruction was terrifying – the changes to our cities and towns vast. There are parts of Santa Cruz which will never be the same. And then there is the nagging fear that another Big One is looming. I hope your friends and neighbors who are still without are soon again living within the safety of their own homes.
    It takes so much time. . .
    Love Noodles (Mommy #2)

    1. Noodles – I am so sorry your mom experienced the quake… I can’t even imagine how scary that was. Unlike a hurricane a quake has no warning… The fear always remains…

      PS – what is with the #2 mommy business? Both mommies are #1!!

  8. I just remember watching the news and being so worried about you. Sandy will probably always impact you because it was a storm that did so much damage to your community. I think there things in our life that will always stay with us.

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