Preparing to ‘Light Up New Jersey’ for Sandy Anniversary: My Memories of the Storm
As the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy nears, I find myself remembering a variety of diverse and unrelated moments from that time, much like you recall different scenes from a movie.
What’s being remembered isn’t so much the power and the fury of the storm itself that Monday night a year ago. The memories tend to be related to the people who were affected by the storm.
The images of huge mounds of wet and ruined possessions piled up in front of almost every house in our neighborhood, ours included, in the weeks after Sandy, are still vivid in my mind.
We “only” got about four inches of water in my house, So little in comparison, that I began to feel guilty about complaining when I saw the amount of the devastation elsewhere. Still, it was a major obstacle for my family to live with and overcome.
I remember how shaken my neighbors who had ignored the evacuation order still were when we talked about the storm in the days that followed. There had been so many false alarms from previous storms, that most of my neighbors had stayed in their houses during Sandy. Some were forced to watch helplessly as flood waters poured in to their homes. One neighbor told me fish were actually swimming through her living room at one point.
My family had evacuated. I was needed on the air to help with the storm coverage, so I set up an air mattress on the floor of my office and slept at the radio station for four days. My wife and kids had taken the pets and gone to the safety of a friend’s house. I still remember and regret not taking more time to prepare the house and to move valuables from low lying areas. You see, there had been so many false alarms before when I had done that work for what turned out to be no reason.
Powerful memories remain of trying to find information about our homes after the storm and the check points police set up to keep people from returning to the affected towns before it was safe. Using media credentials, I had returned home on Wednesday afternoon, a day before Margate was officially reopened for evacuees. The mess I found was substantial. With assistance from some wonderfully helpful neighbors, wet carpets, furniture, toys, and other family items were carted out to the street. That was a very sad day in my life.
Before leaving to return to the mainland, I stopped to check on my elderly neighbors next door who had refused to leave. They were in bad shape, cold and hungry, having spent the last few days in a flooded, dark house. When I arrived, they were heating up left-over slices of cold cuts by a candle’s flame. But they refused my offer to leave and find a hotel room offshore. They were tired and miserable, but they weren’t going anywhere. I promised to bring them some real food when I returned the next day.
When I see them now , I wave and say hello just like always, but I also remember the desperate look on their faces that day after the storm.
Where does this all leave us? We’ve cleaned, rebuilt, and tried to move on in the year that has passed since Hurricane Sandy. We also gotten to know one another much better as a by-product. I more fully realized what a great group of neighbors we have and I’m proud to have them as friends.
Does that make us stronger than the storm? That’s a spiffy slogan, but I’m not so sure. What we are is strong enough to take what nature has dealt us and try to learn from it as we’ve fix up afterwards. And, that’s a pretty powerful thing too.
Join Lite Rock 96.9 WFPG as we stand together and remember what happened and look forward to the future.
Last year at that moment we were in the dark. Now,one year later, we are in the light.
Lite Rock is hosting a “moment of light” ceremony on Tuesday, October 29th at 6pm at Lucy the Elephant in Margate. If you have per-registered at literock969.com, you’ll receive a “Light Up New Jersey” flashlight or you are welcome to walk up with your own flashlight. At the designated time, all Townsquare New Jersey stations will shine our flashlights in to the sky to recognize the occasion.