The day before tragedy struck, I went home so I could attend a NY Jets vs. Miami Dolphins football game with my family Sunday afternoon. After the game, my parents broke the news to me that I could not go back to my dorm room, and I would be spending at least Monday at home. With that said, we spent the entire Sunday evening preparing for the storm: shopping for food and waiting in line for gas.
When Sandy began, I remember seeing my friends from all over posting on the Internet, from their smart phones, how they had lost power. My neighborhood was one of the lucky ones. We lost power around 9:30 PM and most of us didn’t regain it until Thursday night, or Friday morning. During our time in the darkness, my friends and I did anything to occupy us. For two days we played hours of pick-up basketball in the street, followed by countless games of Monopoly. It seemed as though once seven o’clock struck, the day was over because the sky turned pitch black.
What irked me was seeing the devastation that my borough had experienced. I remember driving around with my dad the morning after to look at the damage in my neighborhood by the water. It was devastating. Trees were down. Boats were in the middle of streets. Homes were flooded, and some were even uprooted by the massive 15-foot waves. My dad and I got out of the car at his friend’s house, which faces the water of Staten Island, to make sure that him and his family were OK. Although they were OK, next door there used to be a pub. Now, the bar was on the ground completely crushed, and the owner stared desolately at his property.
Unfortunately, my college did a poor job of informing us when we would officially return to school because they did not know when they would restore power. I had to go back to my dorm, just in case I had class the following day. Late Wednesday evening, I returned thinking there would be school the next day; It turns out, there was no school. This bothered me greatly because I could have been home with my friends helping out clean up the homes of people in our neighborhoods.
Just before midnight on Wednesday, a friend informed me that she would be heading out to Long Island Thursday morning to volunteer with the Red Cross. I figured if I could not help the people of Staten Island, I might as well help out my fellow New Yorkers. I spent the day giving out lunch and dinner to those who lost their home and everything inside of it. Listening to some of their stories makes you truly grateful for everything that you have in your life.
Still, as I sit here writing my “Sandy story,” something does not feel right. Here I am at school, going about my business as if nothing has happened. In reality, my home, Staten Island, is in ruins. Those people need help, and unfortunately for quite some time Staten Island was “forgotten.” People always joke and kid about how Staten Island is the forgotten borough, but it’s actually true. If there was no outcry from the people of Staten Island, there was a good possibility that these people would still be neglected.
It’s sad to say, but I have heard multiple stories of people I knew whose houses were flooded, damaged, or even destroyed. An alumnus from my high school track team, who is also an army veteran, rounded up a bunch of his friends the days following the storm. They called themselves the “Brown Cross” because they knew they were going to have to get their hands dirty to help out. This group, which started out as a small circle of eight friends, has grown to over 100+ volunteers including many of my fellow teammates from my high school track team. Although the rebuilding process may take weeks, or even months, for some, I look forward to going home and helping these guys out on the front line.
While Sandy had little to no effect on many people, it devastated others. A tragic event like this allowed me to evaluate life and put a lot of things into perspective. My family was fortunate enough to only lose power for a few days. I feel as though I owe it to Staten Island to do whatever I can to help speed up this recovery process. But most importantly, I learned that we should appreciate everything we have because the next day it could all be taken from us.