A few weeks ago I experienced a storm that has devastated, destroyed and forever changed the landscape and the lifestyle of a place I call home.
Long Island is a place that I have lived and loved my entire life. If you read my blog you know that I celebrate the richness of waterfront living. I am always grateful for my good fortune at being able to enjoy the ocean and waterways of this area. I grew up looking at the Bay. I grew up with both Long Beach and Jones Beach sand in my toes. I love the little hidden clam bars and waterfront restaurants and bars.
The night of the storm was a night I will never forget. Home is a place you are supposed to feel safe in and the sights and sounds of that night will forever be in my mind. I learned that there really is no safe place and that anything can happen anywhere. And that is a frightening feeling. Watching the water come rushing up, in places that it never has, in a torrent of dark and stormy sea water and knowing there was nothing we could do to stop it and knowing we couldn’t get out was terrifying. We lost our contact with the outside world. No electric. Cell phones stopped working. No Internet. No way to reach out if we needed help. Watching a neighbor’s home burn to the ground, because for nearly two hours the fire fighters could not get near it due to the flooding, was something I will never forget. I have heard more sirens in 3 weeks than in my whole life. In the darkness of the night the water poured into our homes and seeped into our lives destroying the very fabric of our existence.
And in the morning, when the full impact of the devastation was apparent, I cried. I still cry for my neighbors and friends who have lost their homes. In the weeks that followed they lived in darkness and cold; by day sorting out the ruined pieces of their lives, by night they huddled under blankets and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I saw the Red Cross and the National Guard and FEMA in my hometown. They set up camp in the elementary school.
We were among the lucky ones. We were only temporarily displaced. We were inconvenienced. We got our power back after 10 days. My mother got hers the following day. My girlfriend and her mother were not so lucky. My friend lost her home in Long Beach. My friend’s mother had water damage to the lower level of her home. They stayed with us a few days until my friend’s mother got power back.
But my friend, like so many others, can never go home again. Besides the water there were fires and sewage leaks that destroyed even more homes or made them uninhabitable..
More people reached out to us than we ever could have expected. That was a blessing and made us feel loved in a world that seemed no longer so very friendly.
And now, suddenly, it is Thanksgiving week.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that has always been my favorite. This year I more thankful than I have ever been.
I am so grateful to have been able to go back home and resume my life.
I will buy my turkey and trimmings and buy extra for those that cannot buy or cook their own. I will donate what I can to help.
This year when you sit at your table say a prayer for the people of Long Island. They are still struggling to find the new normal.
If you can, please donate to Island Harvest or the Red Cross. Thank you.