I don't know how to begin this post so I'm going to write it straight from the heart....
I can't speak for any other area that has been affected but the devastation I've seen in Brooklyn because of Hurricane Sandy is something straight out of a movie. I live in the Sheepshead/Coney Island area and it's so heartbreaking to see what has happened over here having experienced it myself. No power, no heat for a week, I felt like I was living in the 1800's with candles as my only source of light just waiting for my horse to come by and scoop me up so I can go churn my own butter. Having to live like this really made me wonder how bad it would be for others who've been affected by the storm....I'm guilty of being one of those that didn't fully understand or really grasp how a natural disaster could affect someone's life but I won't ever make that mistake again.
For those of you who are fortunate enough to live inland, you may feel like Sandy was not a big deal because all you experienced were high winds and maybe power outage but for those of us who live along the water or blocks from it, Sandy has brought on floods, fires, vehicles floating on sidewalks and houses being completely destroyed and washed away.
I live about 4 blocks away from Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay (shown above) and I felt the affects of the storm as early as Monday afternoon. The wind was picking up, my windows were shaking but the worst as expected was during it's peak at night. I heard the trees cracking outside, a very loud cracking sound, something like thunder and then falling to the ground. I decided to poke my head out my window to see what was going on and that's when I saw water rushing down the street. It was the scariest thing I've ever seen in my life...something straight out of The Day After Tomorrow. I went out to my stoop and just watched all of this water pouring down my block, non of which was rain, all of it was sea water. There were literally mini waves hitting my front door step, cars that were parked in the street including mine were going off. There was a yellow Eclipse parked in front of my house that was floating and giving off a burnt smell...it then it started to smoke. I was so afraid that it was going to blow up because it was smoking really bad so I called 911 but no one picked up. It just rang and rang and rang....that's when I knew how bad it was and how real it was...I wasn't the only one going through it in this Hurricane. After 3 hours of high winds and non stop water, the storm finally slowed up. The aftermath? Water reached up my thigh on my block, cars were floating around, trees and power lines fell down, I could only imagine what people who live right along the bay had to endure and I was right.
All of the water had been finally flushed out a few days ago, power still hadn't been restored but I decided to walk to Gerritsen Beach, Coney Island and around Sheepshead helping anyone I could but PB&J sandwiches and milk can only go so far....Hearing the heartbreaking stories from my friends and random strangers brought tears to my eyes....I know this sounds like I'm exaggerating or being overly dramatic about everything but this is reality, the sadness and devastation out here is all real.
Around my area, a lot of people rent out and live in basements so to hear them talk about how they lost everything, lost their entire lives in the flood, how their animals drowned... it breaks my heart. People are crying, screaming that they have no place to go or live, some families have been camping out in garages thinking of the next step. Everyone's basement on my block was flooded with 5 feet of water when their ceilings are only 7 feet high...you do the math. A friend of mine around the block has a family that lives in his basement- a guy, his wife and 2 kids. He told me the water just came rushing in out of nowhere and the wife was stuck between a door and told her husband to save the kids and just get out...she managed to push open the door and reach the basement steps while the water was pouring in but ended up breaking her leg...thank God she was pulled to safety. Another friend of mine who works for the city had his home completely underwater but left it to go help others in the city. He said he was driving back home and exited onto Knapp Street (next to the water). A tree had fallen fell right in the middle of the exit so he tried to drive around the tree until his car started filling up with water with him in it and it began to float away. He was able to escape through his sunroof when a huge wave came crashing in almost taking him into the ocean and he frantically, "swam for his life". A second wave came and ended up carrying him from Shore Parkway to Voorhies Ave, which is four blocks from eachother. He had hypothermia when he was found but he's alive. Right now he's living in his mother's home but he lost everything....we're all so lucky and thankful to still have him here with us...
When I walked to Gerritsen Beach I had to fight back the tears. It is completely destroyed and a lot of it is underwater...People's houses were demolished and washed away, phone lines were everywhere, trees, furniture, cars. Houses were torn apart right down to the foundation, some completely gone. Some told me they saw their cars floating right into the ocean and houses from as far as the Rockaways were floating right into their neighborhoods. (shown below)
Another person said the Tiki Bar that's located in Rockaway Queens was now in front of his doorstep....all the stories were so overwhelming...to see the hurt in their eyes, the tears when they were talking about losing everything, every little thing they owned and having no where to go it just really tears at your soul.
Coney Island is nothing short of a war zone. If you ever played Call of Duty, that's probably the best visual I can give you. The National Guard's main headquarters is stationed right on Floyd Bennett Field, there's armed forces everywhere, the boardwalk is destroyed, Brooklyn's landmark rollercoaster, the Cyclone is half gone and that's even before I get to what's happening with residents over there. My friends who live in C.I, told me the entire area from Surf Ave down to Neptune and even further had water up to the top of SUV's, some cars were floating around while others were completely submerged under water and they described the streets as "brown rivers". People's businesses and homes have been destroyed as a result...people who live in the apartment buildings over there have no power, heat or running water due to the power outage...some people are desperate for any kind of help that they're beginning to loot. Some are doing it for for survival while others are doing it out of ignorance....at night people are even shooting at cop cars! It's a very very dangerous area to be right now and it's no surprise the news isn't reporting this because they don't want anything to appear worse than it already is. But I was told this from straight from the horse's mouth, from my friends who live in the heart of Coney Island and have seen it themselves. This is all happening and I feel for the people here so much...
I spoke with a woman who lived in one of the apartment buildings and she told that all the tenants are huddled up in one apartment trying to stay warm and keep each other's spirits up. Her husband is recovering from a recent brain surgery and he's complaining of being cold and hungry....it's so sad....I mean sure there are organizations giving out food, clothes and more but there's only so much to go around for so long and at the end of the night, all these residents will have to go back to their homes freezing with no water to wash their bodies or heat to keep warm. And what' so upsetting is that they will have to wake up and go through this all over again.
The aftermath of Sandy really is so devastating...I get really angry when I hear people say that it's just a house, that these people will live and it's not that bad. True, a home is just an object but to these people it's more than that, there's an emotional connection. The hours of work they put into perfecting their house, the investments, all of their memories has been swept away, a lifetime gone in minutes...
I also have to defend these people who live by the beach....there's this pre-concieved notion that if you live by a beach you must be really rich. Well guess what, there are a lot of Public Housing areas by Coney Island and if people do have the money to purchase these homes, it does not mean losing it hurts any less. A lot of folks have put their entire life savings, their retirement money, every last cent they have earned from decades of working is put into these homes just so their kids and their kid's kids can have a place to go. But now it's all gone....they have absolutely nothing. Can you imagine waking up and losing everything you have? From your TV, to your bed, right down to your socks and your favorite photos? Gone. Now imagine losing everything you have after investing and emptying your entire bank account into it? This is what people are feeling.
The destruction Sandy has caused will take so long to fix. People have no where to live, no food to eat, no water to bathe in, no heat to stay warm as the days get colder....the garbage is piling up outside and it smells so bad. People are literally wearing masks walking up and down my block...it's just horrible.
I will never ever forget Hurricane Sandy...I will never forget what happened and how this storm affected the people in Brooklyn and it's surrounding areas. Their stories and what I've seen has left a lasting imprint in my mind and my heart. Please if you can help in any way, shape or form please do.
These areas desperately need it and the steps to recovery is a very long road.