By Anessa V. Cohen
I had a friend named Sandy in high school. She was always smiling and joking around—so how could I ever take seriously a storm named “Sandy,” other than to think it would inconvenience me for a few hours possibly by knocking out the electricity briefly or cause me to cancel any outdoor activities I might have planned for that day.
Here we were listening to all the media sending gloom and doom and warning us all to prepare for the worst storm in the history of man here in New York, but why would we seriously pay attention to them when they always project disaster upon disaster, only to end up with whimpers or sunshine? So, figuring this was more of the same, I watched the TV as Sandy made her way up the coast and assumed that, as most storms do, she would make landfall somewhere else and dissipate long before ever coming anywhere near our shores.
Just in case, out I went shopping for supplies to hold me through the storm—water, batteries, extra milk, hot chocolate, and some snacks to keep us entertained while the TV hosts regaled us on how the storm was getting closer.
Sunday night I realized things were not going the way I anticipated. Sandy had not made landfall and the line at the cashier at Lowe’s was insane with people buying out generators, batteries, extension cords, and even sandbags. This was not business as usual.
Monday found many of us working as usual during the day, figuring to make as much of the day productive before the weather turned nasty. As we started to realize that after all these years of crying wolf, this time—unless something changed drastically at the last moment—this was going to be a whopper of a storm, the warnings came through that the danger zone we were concerned about was “high tide,” which would peak at 9:00 p.m. Although I was nervous, I really did not think more would happen than losing my electricity and therefore the power to my sump pump in the basement, causing some water to overflow the pump until LIPA got the juice going again.
I went out on my front porch around 7:30 p.m. to see how the wind was blowing, since the TV was telling us of 70–80 mph winds, which sounded scary, and looked out onto my street to notice water flowing down the street at almost curb height. Since I had never seen water flooding my street in all the years living here even during the most severe hurricanes or floods, this was a bizarre sighting to me and I called out everyone in the house to see it.
We all stood on the front porch, mesmerized, watching the water flowing until at some point we started to notice it had risen over the curb and was now inching its way up our driveway towards the garage. We all started looking at our watches now, hoping the flow would hold and come no further before the high tide peak at 9:00 p.m., when it would then start to recede. No such luck! The water went through and around my garage and started cascading into my basement, and then it happened—the lights went out!
Now we ran inside to the kitchen table, which had all the emergency supplies in preparedness, and grabbed flashlights, put on boots, and ran down to the basement, took empty laundry baskets and ran relays bringing as many items as possible up to the first floor. Although we were able to bring up a lot of stuff, everything lower than three and a half feet was lost forever to salt water.
By 10:00 p.m., all the water receded back where it came from, leaving all the water clogged in the basements and first floors it had invaded as a testament to our vulnerability. On some streets, large fish were seen strewn all over the place, large trees uprooted—some of them with half a block of sidewalk attached—electric lines strung low across streets hanging like clothes lines, among just a few casualties.
The morning after, we all poured out onto the streets to survey the damage, comparing notes as we all tried to figure where to start to work our way out of this disaster called Sandy.
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I must take a moment to mention how unique our community is, together with the enormous number of special people who live and work among us. The sheer number of groups and individuals who came out to help everyone in need after this disaster is overwhelming. I am choosing not to name organizations or individuals, although I would really like to, because I am afraid of leaving someone’s name out. Although many of these individuals as well as organizations have themselves suffered tremendous damage and loss, they are working 24 hours a day to reach out to all those who need help. This is a gargantuan task, and I can only say thank-you to all of you who have given so much of yourselves to help everyone else, and to thank your families who have supported you in helping others at possibly their own expense.
It is just another reason why people always run to move in to our special community. We are just blessed with so many caring and dedicated people. Wishing everyone power back in your homes, easy cleanup, and quick insurance adjustments from your insurance companies. v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.