Nature-wise, the North East is generally rather kind. Our earthquakes tend to be mild, our tornadoes, short-lived and small, and, other than the occasional hurricane, blizzard, or ice storm, weather-related inconveniences are minor. Though I *have* been caught in quite a few blizzards, ice storms & hurricanes, my scariest experiences had more to do with improvising after poor planning for long hikes or surviving weeks of dry pipes when my well-water line froze.
However, this post refers to natural disasters. Although I already blogged about Hurricane Sandy on this blog here, believe it or not, Sandy came up a few times in the past two weeks, so I thought I would revisit that particular event with a new perspective.
Hurricane Sandy hit NYC on a Monday in Late October, 2012 and according to a CDC study, of the 117 deaths due to the Hurricane, 53 of those occurred in New York. Compared to the devastation experienced at the Jersey Shore, Staten Island & Long Island, Manhattan was relatively unscathed. However, the island of Manhattan is cupped by the Hudson River to the West and the East River to the East and during the hurricane, those rivers rose by as much as 15 feet, pouring water onto highways and side streets and blowing out a major transformer at a substation on 14th Street. If you lived downtown, as I did at the time, power was out for four to five days. And, if you lived in a highrise above the second floor (which I did NOT), toilets would not flush and fresh water was unavailable.
My Brother-in-law, however, did live in such a building. His 11th floor apartment by the East River between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges had no water and even the emergency lighting in the stairwells failed. Our power was out, but we had a gas stove (which we could light with a match), a fireplace (and wood), a gas water heater and working water pipes (Huzzah for showers), so he, his wife and his son came to live with us for a few days. We worked together, venturing out for food & and phone charges during the day (a 3-4 mile walk) & gathering around the fire for story-telling in the evening. I saw so many acts of kindness, people giving up their bus seats when older New Yorkers needed them (the subway was closed south of Herald Square and buses were rare). People offering showers. People giving away food. In fact, I didn’t feel unsafe once–not even when I stood on my usually crowded street, turned off my flashlight and couldn’t see the hand in front of my face! By the end of the week, another two sets of Sandy-displaced people joined our household. All it all it was about as pleasant as pleasant can be with so many people crammed into 1500 square feet.
ANYWAY, remember how I mentioned Sandy had come up in the last few weeks?
The first was during my nephew’s high school graduation. His high school was located in a highrise downtown and remained closed for a few months. One of the two student speakers talked about having to go to an alternate school during that time. He recalled using desks made for small children & being crammed into rooms so crowded, teachers could not be heard. He also referred to Sandy as the moment his class came together….the moment they learned to appreciate one another, their school and their teachers. I was moved by his recollections, and saw quite a few of his classmates nodding in agreement as he spoke.
The second, was a trip to the beach over this past July 4th. On the way, we stopped at a Nature center in Jamaica Bay (which is the body of island-studded water you fly over as you land in JFK). A trail had once circled a fresh-water pond by the center, but Sandy breached the trail and the dune and now the pond is a tidal saltwater inlet. Our destination was Rockaway Beach (both these places, BTW, are within NYC city limits in the Borough of Queens). Rockaway was hit very hard by the hurricane. This is what Rockaway looked like just after Sandy, November 2012. The picture on the right was taken this past weekend. So much work has been done to rebuild, but the area remains scarred. Standing on the new concrete reminded me how fleeting life really is, and how it can be interrupted on a random Monday in October, and still be healing three years later.
Sandy left the landscape forever changed. It also left me with a profound sense of gratitude for the way the people of New York can come together in times of need.
Visit the stories of the other participants here:
Contemporary Romance Writers Kat Cantrell – Priscilla Kissinger | Paranormal romance writers Kay Hudson | Romantic suspense writers Carol Post – | Novels with romantic elements Natalie Meg Evans – Jean Willett | Sweet & Faith-based romance writers KD Fleming – Kristen Ethridge | Historical romance writer Wendy LaCapra
And, Celebrate these July Releases:
Carol J Post: Hidden Identity
Natalie Meg Evans: The Milliner’s Secret
Me! (Which I did not submit to my fellow bloggers in time): Lady Scandal