2013-11-15 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Unforgettable Sandy, From Fire And Flood - Beach 130th Street Rising
By Michele Woods

Tommy Woods standing above the rubble of his home. Their new house is now being built. Tommy Woods standing above the rubble of his home. Their new house is now being built. I started off trying to write about the night of the storm. Eight hundred words later, I still don’t think it was effective in letting people know what it was like, so I tossed it out. It was something out of a move, like Gone with the Wind when Tara was burning. A large group of us evacuated during the peak of the flooding, with the fires raging all around us. We were like a little parade going down the block and making our way west to get away from the fires.

With lanterns, surfboards, kayaks and people just wading through the waters we must have been some sight. We are just so thankful that everyone on our block made it out alive, and for that we are truly blessed.

The most important thing to know about that night is that we all worked together to rescue each other and ourselves. There was family member helping family member and neighbor helping neighbor. Buddy and Trish Woods welcomed us all into their home in the middle of the night and we waited out the storm like so many others here in Rockaway, praying that the fires would go out, and the floodwaters would recede.

When we look back, we continue to be amazed at how the community came together in the days and weeks that followed the storm. There was a tremendous effort from the Sanitation Department, and they deserve our special thanks. The groups of volunteers were also appreciated as they came to help strangers dig out their basements, and get rid of belongings that were ruined by the floodwaters.

For our family, there was never a question of moving, it was just figuring out how to rebuild. The rules have changed with the new FEMA guidelines, and it’s been a learning experience for all of us as we deal with the myriad of agencies both local and federal that have been involved in the rebuilding process.

I can’t tell you how thankful we are for our neighbors, as we have banded together as we go through the process. We are constantly talking to each other to see how things are going, and to honestly just vent at some of the delays. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but it has been tremendously helpful to know that there are other people you can talk to that are in the exact situation you are, and who are dealing with the same frustrations.

In short, we made it. Our neighborhood will be back better than ever, and while we may have lost our material possessions, we know that they are not truly important. It is the people in our lives that mean everything to us, and this experience has brought us closer together, and made us appreciate our lives even more.

Michele Woods lives on Beach 130th Street in Belle Harbor. She and her family are rebuilding.

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