One year, 52 weeks, 366 days, and approximately 8’766 hours, 525’949 minutes have passed since our world was turned upside down.
A year ago yesterday at this time, my power had gone out and I was on my way to my mother-in-laws house suitcase in hand, but already under the assumption I would be returning to my home that evening or at worst case scenario the next day. For the love of God—my power would go out if two raindrops landed on the transformer.
As a life long New Yorker, I had grown jaded and cynical when it comes to storms in my region. The media does nothing but hype this stuff up…words I said to a scared out of her mind receptionist at the gym where I taught yoga on the weekends. How those words haunt me now.
Never in my life did I, (or could I have) even imagined the destruction I was to bear witness to in the ensuing weeks. An anomaly of nature struck the east coast a year ago—Hurricane Sandy which in this writers opinion the worst storm in recent history to strike the New York City. Barreling its way up and through all 5 boroughs; as well as the mainland, slamming upstate New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, the after effects of this super storm are still being felt a year later.
I wish it were possible to put into words the images from this event now scorched permanently into my memory, but no words could ever do my emotions (or anyone else who lived through this) justice. I started to write this article yesterday—but it became too emotional for me to continue. Looking through the pictures I received from friends of the destruction this hurricane caused brought back a flood of memories for me.
Luckily I was only without power for a week; a mild inconvenience bouncing from house to house for a whole week is a drop in the bucket compared to what others went through. Where I was simply inconvenienced, others had their lives literally destroyed.
I will always believe the media is partially to blame for the amount of damage and human lives lost during this storm. Too many of them hype up any little weather event to the point where many of us blow it off. We paid the price with Sandy as a result of this habit of everything being blown out of proportion. I have friends who made it out of the storm with little more than the clothes on their backs, their animals, and most importantly—their lives, all because they chose not to evacuate. The media worked everyone up over Hurricane Irene the year before, and it ended up fizzling out before it even touched the city’s shore lines. So many thought—well, Sandy won’t be different…how wrong we all were.
What was an even larger disgrace was the way the clean up was handled. As I stated in the article I published a month later An Open Letter to the People of New York City I often stopped to be grateful for social networking sites; because without them—the volunteer efforts coordinated by the very people this storm had devastated never would have gotten underway. You read that right—the efforts we the citizens of the other four boroughs (since the Red Cross and FEMA—and MOST media outlets focused solely on the devastation in Manhattan and New Jersey) brought together are the reason this city is getting back on its feet as fast as it is.
FEMA, Rapid Repairs launched by Mayor Bloomberg, and the Red Cross, make me absolutely sick to my stomach. The deplorable; and callous way this disaster was maneuvered by these three organizations should make us all stop and question exactly where our tax dollars go as well as donations. Had it not been for people like me, my sister, and a dear amazing friend who launched the Facebook® page Help Brooklyn Sandy Victims—believe me when I tell you we would not be where we are now as far as the physical recovery is concerned.
Mentally—many are still in need of help. It broke my heart reading a friend’s Facebook® post where her daughter asked her if they were going to have to evacuate again like last year. Though my friend’s family were lucky enough where they didn’t have to evacuate, it’s blatantly obvious this experience in Sandy was a life altering experience for this young girl.
Instead of just placing remembrance on one day—I am choosing to honor the memory of those lost during, as well as after the storm and to keep vigil everyday as a reminder to myself that this could happen again at any given time. Don’t get me wrong—I don’t live my life in constant fear (and I would never expect anyone else to either) but I will never let go of the lessons Sandy taught me:
- Courage will always outweigh fear. I give a special salute to Dylan Smith a Belle Harbor resident who (as a lifelong surfer) used his surfboard to rescue people trapped by flooding streets. A few months after Sandy we lost this hero (ironically enough) while he was surfing in Puerto Rico—you were a true hero Dylan and the Rock will always remember what you did for them.
- Even as hardened as New Yorkers are—we will always come together as a community.
- Government programs aren’t all they cracked up to be, we have only ourselves to rely on.
- Just as we learned in September 11th as New Yorkers, we are as tough as they come. Terrorists couldn’t break us—neither could you Sandy.
My fellow New Yorkers…we are unbreakable.