“It can’t be that bad, it won’t be that bad. It’s gonna be ok, It has to be ok.”
These were the types of thoughts that were running through my mind on that ferry ride from Manhattan to Hoboken that 31 of October of 2012.
A year ago today, Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. As Wikipedia puts it, “was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, as well as the second-costliest hurricane in United States history.” I live in Hoboken, one of the areas affected by the hurricane.
It was Halloween weekend, nobody cared there was a super storm coming our way. People went out, football games went on and life seemed to go on normally without any bigger concerns than halloween costume choices. Then the red flags start going up and as the natural freak out person that I am, I start panicking when my landlord mentions that I might be getting “a little bit” of water into my room. You need to realize that my room was located in the basement of my apartment. I proceeded to take out half of my room into the kitchen (higher than my room) and elevated my bed with plastic flower pots because there was nothing better I could get at the hardware store.
Both New Jersey and New York started evacuating plans the day before the storm and one of my good friends welcomed me into her Upper East home. Sandy came, Sandy left… I did not feel a thing. We did not lose power and although it rained, it was nothing compared to what I was seeing in the news.
“My room flooded. No way it could have not flooded.”
With every single footage shown of Hoboken, I lost a little drop of hope.
There was no way I could reach Hoboken from Manhattan. No trains, no buses, no nothing. Then the ferries started to work and me and my roommate found ourselves going against the flow of people that were abandoning Hoboken to seek shelter in upper Manhattan. Red flag.
I obviously got the ferry route wrong so we ended up in Weehaken (north of Hoboken) and we had no choice but to walk all the way to our apartment (about 25 minutes).
What a sight.
It really felt like something taken out of a post-apocalyptic movie. I saw people draining their houses, furniture floating around, and the look on their faces was a deep mixture of hope and despair, as little sense as that makes.
When I arrived to my apartment the stench gave it away. I went down the stairs to my room and evidently, everything in my room was ruined. The bed had collapsed and everything I had raised had fallen to the floor. With the electricity being gone, I faced a dark and stinking room… I broke down. I remember sitting in the kitchen floor and crying because I did not know what to do. It’s interesting to see how easily humans lose perspective. I had seen complete houses crumbled and flooded while I walked to my apartment, but at that moment all I could see was my loss.
My roommate truly helped me through. She did not hesitate, started making things better and kept telling me that it was going to be alright. It’s amazing what that can do, just to have someone tell you that something is going to be alright, even when they might not be so sure about it themselves. I am thankful of all the network of people that were quickly activated upon my request for help. I had lost all my furniture, some of my clothes and all of my shoes (I know, shoes!).
Now that I’m actually sitting down and writing about this, it doesn’t sound as bad as it felt. I am beyond thankful about all the help I received from everyone in my life. From coworkers to friends, everyone was there for me and that was worth more than what I had lost. I remember someone told me “It’s all material stuff”. It really was.
Sure, it was no peaches and cream. I had no bedroom for over a month, but then I remembered the faces I saw walking down to my apartment that day and I realized how blessed I was. I see the pictures of the damage across the tri-state area and I know that what I suffered was nothing compared to those who lost their homes and even their loved ones.
“Stronger than the storm”
Some may find it cheesy, but that’s really what it’s all about. Being stronger than the storm and being able to dance in the rain, or being able to jump and clap your hands around, I know not everyone is a good dancer so whatever rocks your socks.