Some called it the perfect storm. It was a full moon, it was high tide, there was a storm surge and, to top it off, the wind strength was between 70 to 100 mph. The media dubbed this monstrosity “Frankenstorm”. It was considered to be perhaps the worst natural disaster to ever strike the American Northeast. On the evening of October 29, 2012 the largest Atlantic hurricane to date killed over 200 people in the U.S. and the Caribbean, flooded thousands of homes, and destroyed power to millions of households across 17 states.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been one year since Hurricane Sandy devastated our area. But luckily, all of us here at PCH headquarters in Port Washington, NY managed to make it through “stronger than the storm”. We’re fortunate to be able to look back on our own personal struggles and hardships, those of our friends and families, and marvel at the incredible strides that have been made so far toward a full recovery.
Downed trees caused the worst damage in the Port Washington area. It was devastating to see its stately old trees toppled like twigs. Power lines took a beating. It was amazing that we were fortunate enough to come back to work after missing just three days —most of us couldn’t wait to come back to a place that had lights, heat, and computers that worked!
On a positive note, the storm brought everyone back to the basics. With no television, movies or the Internet, families played cards and word games together by candlelight. Neighbors helped each other with chain saws, food and water, batteries, and looked in on the elderly. After awhile, in my neighborhood, extension cords began to snake across the streets from the “lucky” houses to the ones without power. Although it wasn’t much of a Halloween for the kids, I remember a few young ghouls and goblins who managed to find one of the few houses with lights burning (mine) and plenty of treats on hand!
Some communities on Long Island were in the dark for six weeks. Gas stations had no way to pump gas and long lines began to form at the few that still had electricity. Batteries, flashlights, lanterns and generators became hot commodities and flew off the store shelves. The few coffee shops and restaurants that were up and running enjoyed a brisk business.
But the response from around the country was truly amazing. Convoys of utility workers and tree trimmers were quick to arrive, as well as the Red Cross and FEMA. Slowly but surely, roads and utility poles were repaired and a tremendous amount of debris cleared away. Our boardwalks have been rebuilt, and our lovely beaches welcomed back grateful visitors this summer.
Now that we can think back on it and look for the silver lining, I asked some of my coworkers in the Creative Department to share some of their personal stories with our blog fans. Here’s what they had to say.
Maryann C. recalls: “After the storm when neighbors saw the extensive damage to my home, they all came by to lend their support. My husband and I met many people that we did not know, and some even came around with hot coffee for us each morning! It was very touching for me to learn that our neighbors, who were also dealing with the aftermath of the storm, were concerned enough to take the time to help us.”
Amanda C. says: “What I’ll always remember about the storm is people coming together to help each other out. Even in the midst of all the chaos and sadness, it was beautiful to see strangers helping out strangers, and families and friends becoming closer than ever before.”
Bob B. had this to say: “My whole family (my wife, 5-month-old son, my wife’s parents, and brother in-law’s girlfriend) moved into my brother in-law’s apartment for 11 days. I stayed back at the house to remain with my dog, because he wasn’t allowed in the building. My neighbors helped out with firewood, food and anything else they could do. It really brought us closer as neighbors and friends. This was all nothing compared to some of my friends who lost homes along the south shore, including Breezy Point.”
Mary Beth H. can now say: “It made me grateful for some of the every day blessings we take for granted — room-filling light, warmth and hot water!”
Phil A. recalls: “If anything, the storm forced my 16-year-old son to take responsibility. I was proud to see him rise to the occasion and pitch in on the cleanup after our first floor flooded from the canal. Me, my wife and two sons lived for months on the second floor. But we would meet at the local diner with the other neighborhood ‘refugees’ a few nights every week to commiserate and that made it more bearable.”
Victoria C. relates: “My cousin lost her entire apartment to about 5 feet of water. A couple of months later, her and I moved into an apartment together, and her friends presented her with a $300 IKEA gift card to help replace all that she had lost. It was touching to see how generous people can be.”
There you have it. A look back, some lessons learned, and hope for the future. Everyone here at Publishers Clearing House will never forget Hurricane Sandy, and are thankful we came out “stronger than the storm”.