Today we have Mark’s 1st hand account of recent Hurricane Sandy. Mark is a resident of Staten Island.
During the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane season, I had a mild interest in a tropical storm which had developed in the Caribbean. During hurricane season (June through November) we are concerned about these tropical storms which often become hurricanes since our daughter lives in Central Florida and my dad and aunt live on the Gulf Coast. Though all the way inland on the Florida peninsula, where hurricanes usually don’t travel, there was one hurricane season in which no less than four hurricanes passed her way. This one was one which did. This tropical storm strengthened into a Class 1 hurricane and passed over the state of Florida, continuing into the Gulf of Mexico.
As a Class 1 hurricane, while it did cause some damage, it was not terrible, and Florida is routinely prepared for a storm of this type. But this tropical storm turned hurricane continued into the Gulf of Mexico where it gained strength, reaching Class 5 strength. By the time Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana, it was primed to devastate the entire Gulf Coast, including New Orleans, which is protected for the Gulf by levees … which failed under the storm surge.
For days, the TV showed nothing but the devastation which used to be Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, and it was terrible. I have/had friends in that region and was happy when we finally heard that they were safe – if homeless at the moment.
But, to be honest, with immediate TV news so prevalent these days, it soon, despite knowing people in the devastated region, became another news item with a feeling of detachment. The name Katrina became synonymous with horrendous disaster.
Last month (October) my wife and I had a trip planned to Disney World in Florida. In the week before we traveled down, my wife saw that the next named storm would be “Sandy” – her name. It was just a passing observation that it would ironic if it caused us to be stranded in Florida again – as we were last year when Irene hit NYC and caused us to have to spend an additional four days in Disney World. Look here.
The odds of it actually being an issue were small – and hurricanes rarely make it as far as NYC – so it was forgotten. We had a great trip to Disney World and returned home as planned.
Then it happened!!!!!
Tropical Storm Sandy became a hurricane. Computer models showed that it would come north along a very unlikely path. While most hurricanes that get as far north as here usually turn east out into the Atlantic Ocean. This was predicted to turn west and make landfall along the eastern seaboard. And it was a huge storm! At one point it would cover most of the US if placed on top of the map. Time to prepare!
While we were in Florida when Irene approached, a neighbor kindly secured our back yard. This time I was home and was able to do it myself. My chairs were strapped to the fence, small items were brought in, our table was turned upside down … hopefully it would all be enough.
As it approached, it became obvious that this would be a storm of historic proportions. The tropical air from the south, meeting a mass of cold air from the north – right over NYC! The perfect storm!
However, the predictions last year for Hurricane Irene were not fully met, so some people didn’t take it as seriously as they should. When mandatory evacuations were ordered, many ignored it and decided to ride it out. For many – it was a fatal decision. Not only was this storm as advertised … it was worse. It became the strongest hurricane in history north of Cape Hatteras. It was a killer, and my home borough of Staten Island became the new New Orleans … the center of the destruction. Now when I saw the images on TV, they were of my neighbors, and places I knew all too well.
I won’t go into the details – you would have seen it on TV and in the newspapers by now, but NYC still is not back to operating at 100%. Tunnels were flooded from floor to ceiling – something that had never happened in their century or more of operation. Parts of our subway system are still inoperable – a new station built when its predecessor was destroyed on 9/11 was itself destroyed.
And then, we got hit by a nor’easter!!!!
After Katrina there were fundraisers held to supply aid to New Orleans, and telethons, and celebrities asking everyone to donate. That is happening again, but this time it is my home city – and specifically my home borough – (as well as the entire tristate area) that is in need of support and help.
At the moment they are saying that 900 homes are no longer habitable here in NYC. I have had a chance to drive through the area and it’s quite different from seeing it on TV. View here.
You can see the photos I took of my own neighborhood immediately after the storm CLICK here.
Tomorrow/Today/Yesterday (depending where you are) is Thanksgiving here in the US, and while many of my neighbors have little to be thankful for, I was one of the lucky ones. My house survived with practically no damage other than some missing roof shingles. My backyard furniture is still secured and I will leave it that way until the spring. My son and brother – whose houses lost power for more than a week – both now have power and heat. We will be spending Thanksgiving with them tomorrow at my brother’s house.
And my wife has now started using her full name, Sandra, as – like Katrina – Sandy now has a whole new meaning.
Thanks Mark, we are glad you are safe, and that people can rebuild their lives without too much struggle.
Did Sandy effect you? How did you cope? Have you been through something similar?
Mark’s next article will be about another kind of adventure. Subscribe now so as not to miss any of our great articles this week, or ever.
Lastly I wanted to restate…
It is due to the memory of a dear friend, Rick, that we have embraced this annual November Challenge. Rick was a constant loyal friend. Blessed with a great sense of humour, and powerful imagination. He had an extraordinary ability to stand by people, to see the best in them and support them in the things they wanted to do. With his sparkly brown eyes, kiss on the cheek for your arrival or departure, and always without fail, holding doors open, meant that one always felt as if you were a very special person. And we are. But so is Rick. Married to a special friend, he is a much-loved husband, wonderful father and fun grandfather, and dearest of friends. Rick is ever missed. He is not with us now, and yet he always is.