2013-10-25 / Columnists

Slice Of Life

by Beth Hanning

“You did not evacuate? You stayed during the storm?” These were two questions I was repeatedly asked after returning to work after Hurricane Sandy. People from the mainland could not fathom that we did not try to seek shelter elsewhere. The question I often counter with is this: “Where would I go?” I always respond with this question because all of my immediate family lives in Zone A. The extended family does not live in any safer of a zone. My extended family lives in Island Park, while my husband’s lives in Gerritsen Beach.

Another reason why so many Rockaway residents did not evacuate is due to Hurricane Irene. Many residents sought shelter upstate and in New Jersey. Many friends and acquaintances packed up bags and children and left for what they thought was a safer spot. However they lost power and had trouble returning home due to closed roads.

So we stayed. We did not just stay we attended a hurricane party across the street. Our neighbors were great hosts and we had a blast. We went exploring to the boardwalk and bay wall and were in awe of the waves. While standing at the bay wall a wave crashed over us and got us soaked. My daughter Megan and our neighbor chased after an NBC news van laughing and jumping around excited to be on television. Oh, they were on television. The in-studio news anchor even asked the on-site reporter, “Where are their parents?” Oh, we were down the block encouraging the girls to try to be on TV.

Then, for many of our friends and family that was the last image they had seen before the power went out.

Eventually the daytime turned into night and my husband said maybe he should go home and check on the house. He quickly texted me, “Get home now.” By the time he had left and texted me the water on Newport Avenue had risen quickly. I walked across Newport in what seemed like a river flowing uptown. The relaxing “hurricane day” was now real and very scary.

I will never forget the sight and force of the water entering the basement. I had placed at least 30 sandbags around all of the windows and the door. It did not matter the water came through every crack and crevice in our foundation. In the short time we had before the water became too deep we salvaged a few bins of personal items. My husband tried to get the electric pump working but quickly gave up after he was shocked and realized the pump would not work.

The most alarming part of the night of Sandy of course was the fires. On Newport at Beach 120th we seemed to be right in the midst of it. The last text message I received was, “I heard 117th is on fire.” I went to bed praying that I would see my dad the next day. As many of you know who read me regularly he is alive and well. I ran to Beach 117th Street early the next morning and he was already shoveling out the walkway to his house.

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