One Year Later

October 29, 2013

I didn’t really know how to start this post. I didn’t want to be dramatic, but I wanted to share my thoughts about how I, and I’m sure others, have been feeling. I know that it helps a lot of people to know there is someone out there who feels the exact same way.

There’s been a lot of media coverage the past week or so–comparisons of then and now, the status of federal relief, rebuilding, buyouts, etc. For me, its not just about that specific day, Oct. 29, 2012, it was that whole week, even months after that still bring back difficult memories. I feel like its all we talked about and still talk about—reiterating how much of an impact the storm had on all of us. Last night, all I could think about was how last year at this time, we were leaving the house and were spending the night at a friend’s house, not knowing what to expect when we went back, or if we could even go back.  (Shout out to the Haspels, we are so grateful to have you in our lives and to have had a safe place to go that night.)

For those on the outside, the media coverage of the anniversary is great in that it reminds everyone of what happened and how much work still needs to be done. But for those of us who lived it– in the literal Zone A, we haven’t been allowed to forget. The reminders are outside our door every single day. For us, its not a reminder, just a chance to reflect on how much better we are today and how lucky we are to be here and with a roof over our heads. Its not exactly a time to celebrate though, as there is so much that still needs to be accomplished. There are people who are still homeless and with little resources to get back on their feet.

There are things that remind me of this time last year and I am sure some of you know exactly what I mean–to get those flashbacks triggered by the cooler weather, the rustling of the leaves, Halloween decorations. Hindsight is of course 20/20 and you constantly relive that day and question yourself. But there’s no use in that now. We just have to keep moving forward.

I wrote about Sandy at the three-month mark (click here to read that post about my experience), but here are some other things I remember from that day and week:

The brown muck caked on the streets and sidewalks, the smell, the abandoned cars on sidewalks and in the middle of the street with condensation on the windows, the water flooding the back yards of houses leading up to our block, the water lines on all the fences.

The wind the day after, the chill in the air and in the house, the clouds still swirling around, the sirens, the helicopters. Those damn helicopters hovered around for days. The smell of my sister’s and mom’s cars when we opened the doors, the mud caked on the seats, the water pooled on the floor and in the cup holders. The smell of the mud in the basement, the sound of the muck and dirt under our shoes. The piles and piles of household belongings sitting out on sidewalks. The smell of mildew as you walked by empty homes.

As many painful memories as there are, there are more good ones.

The cups of hot coffee that never tasted so good. Getting a deluge of concerned text messages when a glimmer of service would come through. The amount of supplies we received, big and small. Cleaning supplies, cookies, hot food, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water. Friends did our laundry and lent us space heaters and offered use of their showers, brought us gasoline for the car, our neighbors with power ran extension cords. The local church ran a huge barbeque out on the street for whoever needed a hot meal. The people driving around in their mini van giving out water, the runners from the canceled marathon bringing supplies throughout the area, the numerous relief hubs that popped up with food, clothing, and cleaning supplies. There were so many people coming to help, that I had to park five blocks away one day in that week after. These were the people who helped each other, more than any official relief agency could have done.

I’m sure its difficult for some to picture and imagine how this all felt. Its something I could have never imagined when seeing events like this on the news. When you are in the middle of it all–its so hard to comprehend at first. It takes a while for the magnitude to hit you. Even a year later, its still hard to wrap your head around everything.

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Miller Field, Midland Beach
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Miller Field, Midland Beach
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Midland Beach
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Miller Field, Midland Beach
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New Dorp Beach
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New Dorp Beach
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New Dorp Beach
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New Dorp Beach
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The streets of Midland Beach are still somewhat empty, but the abandoned cars and piles of debris are gone.
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The streets of Midland Beach are still somewhat empty, but the abandoned cars and piles of debris are gone.
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The streets of Midland Beach are still somewhat empty, but the abandoned cars and piles of debris are gone.
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The streets of Midland Beach are still somewhat empty, but the abandoned cars and piles of debris are gone.
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The streets of Midland Beach are still somewhat empty, but the abandoned cars and piles of debris are gone.
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Our block today
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Message at the one year anniversary gatherings
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Memorial organized by the Midland Beach Civic Association to remember those lost in the storm.
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Memorial organized by the Midland Beach Civic Association to remember those lost in the storm.
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Residents placing their candles on the beach after the Light The Shore ceremony
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Residents placing their candles on the beach after the Light The Shore ceremony
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Residents on the beach after the Light The Shore ceremony

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Here are some articles I found that I felt were thoughtful and captured what are truly important pieces to remember.

Here is an interesting timeline of how the storm unfolded in New York City by the Daily News

Hurricane Sandy Timeline 

Some crazy photo comparisons of after the storm and now.

BuzzFeed Then and Now Photos

I was so happy to see that this article got it right. The recovery has been uneven, some people are still not back in their home and are still waiting for assistance. This article really highlights the fact that there is still work to be done and this has not been and is still not an easy road for a lot of residents.

NPR Article

Most importantly, we should remember the enormous amount of good that came out of this terrible ordeal. There were so many good people who devoted their time and their energy to helping others. Denis Hamill from the Daily News wrote about two from my own neighborhood. Our own hero of the block–Danny Quinn was the one who told us the water was coming. For that we are forever grateful.

Daily News–Denis Hamill writes about the storm’s heroes

And a different kind of hero, but heroes nonetheless, were those who kept the Staten Island ferries afloat during the storm. Transportation was severely affected here, but thanks to these guys, the ferry was up and running only a few days after. Something you take everyday, its easy to take it for granted. There would have been zero ferries today if it weren’t for them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saj8SD3dyGM&feature=youtu.be

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