Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Superstorm (hurricane?) Sandy… and I had nothing to say about that topic.
October 29th, 2012: Due to the fact that my baby was only 12 weeks old at the time, I chose to evacuate Long Beach. While I didn’t believe the storm was going to be that bad (I’m no meteorologist), family came first and didn’t want to put them in any harms way. So we spent Sandy at a relatives’ house about 20 miles away in an area that was pretty secluded from the storm. Heck, where I was, it didn’t seem like any major storm was happening at all; just high winds and falling branches. We did lose electricity that night, so the only way I was able to follow up on Long Beach was by checking the internet via my iphone.
I noticed how all my Long Beach friends started following a new Facebook group called Long Beach NY, Hurricane Information. That was where I learned about the boardwalk being breached, the lifeguard station washing away and Park Avenue being several feet under water. On a side note, Mandy, who still runs Long Beach NY, Hurricane Information should have been given a key to the city for all the efforts and work she did that night. While networks and major news sites concentrated mostly on New Jersey and the NYC subway system, me and 14,000 others were glued to Long Beach NY, Hurricane Information and was given up to date reports as it actually happened.
The next day (which would be a year from today) I needed to head home to assess the damaged. It wasn’t until I drove through Oceanside and Island Park when I realized just how bad this storm really was….
Waiting in a traffic to get over the bridge to Long Beach, I was on pins and needles, so anxious to get home and see how different my life might be from all this. While showing a police officer my ID, which allowed me over the bridge, he asked why I was coming back. I told him how I needed to check on my home. The officer gave me a sad and concerned look and said “good luck.” I could see it in his face and hear it in his voice just how ugly things were.
Driving into Long Beach, I was in shock… As many of you know, words cannot describe just how bad the damage was here. It seriously looked like a scene out of a movie or something you’d see on the news of a place that was very far away. It didn’t seem real. Looking back, it still doesn’t. The sad part is, I don’t think most people on Long Island realize just how bad it was, as I am still telling them how things aren’t 100% back to normal.
As I approached my home, I noticed pieces of the boardwalk on my front lawn. Now, I live like six blocks away from the beach, so I just couldn’t believe it! I looked down the boulevard and saw a trail of boardwalk wood a basically making its way all the way up to Park Avenue. Besides the seagrass, sand & debris that were all over my lawn, my house looked so peaceful on the outside. I saw neighbors already starting to empty their homes onto the sidewalks, so I was scared to see what waited for me on the inside. One of the scariest moments that I can remember was going up my house and opening up the door…..
Lucky for me, my damage was minimal. My garage and car were flooded, my crawl space had several feet of water, but never touched the beams. No water inside my house. I consider myself to be extremely lucky. My house was spared. But still, walking around, seeing what my neighbors were going though made me extremely sad. As did walking to the beach, under the damaged boardwalk and basically seeing what look like a barren wasteland… I felt so helpless. I remember thinking “will Long Beach ever be the same again?”
Those next few weeks, living in Long Beach was not an option for me with a baby. No clean water, no sewerage and no electricity is not an ideal situation for anybody. Add gas shortage to that, my time coming back to Long Beach was very limited. I was lucky enough to stay at a relatives house, so I basically just came back to check on the house and clean up a little. In Long Beach and immediate area, food was also an issue too. Almost everything was closed. The army-issued rations weren’t soo bad… haha. Let’s just say, it was an experience. One that, I hope, never have to go through again…
Which brings me to why I am writing this. Yeah, I could have written something commemorating the one year anniversary, but the fact that my damage was minimal fills me with tremendous guilt. I know folks who are still struggling; still trying to figure out how to get back home or figuring out how to raise their homes. So, what am I supposed to write? Do I take out a party hat and say “Happy Anniversary! Wasn’t that sad?” Nothing seemed right for me to blog… Each of us has our own Sandy-story, so I figured the only thing I could do was share mine.
There are many things we should be thankful for: For one, no serious accidents or deaths occurred during the storm. Looting was greatly exaggerated and cleanup was pretty swift, considering the amount of garbage that was created. Our new and beautiful boardwalk is going to be completely funded by FEMA and NY State (all that wrong-screw stuff will be fixed). Be thankful that many of our local business are back, with many new ones coming in. Be thankful that you no longer have to look at giant piles of garbage everywhere. This list goes on…. I am just so happy how Long Beach is much closer to normalcy, when a year ago that seemed all, but lost. The other day I road my bicycle from Neptune to New York Avenue. I had my music blasting and did a few laps of the full boardwalk length. Can you believe that while I was riding, I was so lost in thought that I pretty much forgot how this boardwalk didn’t exist not so long ago? It’s amazing how easy it is to forget….
Is Long Beach perfect? No. It’s far from it, but I truly believe we are moving in the right direction. Yes, so much still needs to get done. So many people still need to get their homes straightened out, but I do believe 2014 is going to be a good year, I just know it. So let’s just forget about the past and move forward. I really don’t want to think about Sandy anymore… I’m tired of it.