Environmental / New York City

Tropical Staten Island – In Sandy’s Wake

Staten Island ruins. Photo by John Makely.

I remember first hearing about the intensity that was to be Hurricane Sandy at my job. We all gathered in a very serious lunch meeting and were instructed on the proper procedures going further. Little did anyone really anticipate how hard this tropical storm would hit. After the minimal damage after Hurricane Irene last year, I shrugged it off. No one expected this…

My father told me two things when I got home, “Go fill up on gas and get cash.” This was one piece of parental guidance I am glad I followed for it would be crucial in the days to come. When we finally blacked out, my family gathered around the window and listened to the gusts of wind rushing past the house. The only moments of light came from the orange and blue sparks from exploding transformers around the neighborhood. We threw back a drink and waited for the morning to turn on the generator. I’ve always admired my father for being one step ahead. He bought the generator a few years back. We have only used it three times but with the inevitable effects of global warming, I am sure we will use it again.

As I regained TV and the internet, I went straight for Twitter and Facebook. I needed to see the impact of the storm but also try to get in contact with anyone. What made me most uncomfortable was not being able to use my phone. I couldn’t call my grandmother, my best friends or anyone for that matter. Storm hit Monday night and we did not have power until Friday night. But by Tuesday I quickly realized no matter how long we were without power, we were lucky. As the news poured in from friends and news broadcasters, I saw the devastation of my city, of my borough. It was sickening.

Go on, ask a tourist to name the 5 boroughs of New York. It may go something like this… “Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and…” My biggest fear is that everyone is the other boroughs will start going back to normalcy and while everyone is getting back on the grid and getting comfy, we are still here in pieces on Staten Island.

People may crack jokes at the large population of Italian Americans that live in Staten Island. But growing up here I have been taught one thing over all – family comes first and to take care of your own. Staten Island is my family and I will not stop my efforts to bring awareness to just how broken we are. While I have seen millions of dollars being raised through relief benefits, call-athons, sing-athons and what have you, it is still hard to see the immediate impact. We still need volunteers and I am praying that as we go on we will not be forgotten once more.

 

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