My daughter is a college student in New York City, and was in her dorm last year when Hurricane Sandy blew through the area, knocking out power and effectively shutting down the portion of Manhattan she calls home. It was a difficult time for her -- and for us, since we couldn't get in touch with her or know what conditions she was living through -- but we were very proud of how she handled the crisis.
A few days ago, on the one-year anniversary of the storm, I asked her to share some memories of the experience:
I remember nearly everything from that week. It was really, really scary during the storm, but somehow I felt safe huddled together with floormates in my electricity-less dorm hallway, with flashlights, telling ghost stories for Halloween. I think we became much closer as a community, and I still view those few days as the time we became much better friends. So in a way, I am twistedly grateful for the storm.
I am also grateful that I lived where I did during the hurricane. We may not have had electricity, heat, or running water (that means no flushing) for upwards of a week, but that was honestly the least of New York's troubles. My next-door neighbor was from Long Island and she went 48 hours not knowing if her family was alive because all the channels of communication were down. When she finally got ahold of her family members, they told her that their entire house had been destroyed.
I can't even imagine what people like that family went through. They lost all their worldly possessions as well as many, many memories.
I'm not going to pretend to be some heroic survivor who braved a terrible storm, because my experience was not bad at all. The true heroes are the firefighters, the police officers, the emergency responders, the food and water donors, the generous people who let others use their electricity to charge their cell phones, and those who lost almost everything but survived to see the next sunrise.
I like to think of Sandy as a uniting event rather than a dividing one. A year later, my friend and hundreds of others are still rebuilding. There is a long way to go, what with lasting flood damage, buildings knocked over, and other neighborhoods that are now cinders because of the wildfires in Queens.
But we're NY Strong and NJ Strong, so nothing can keep us down for long.