I will never forget……..and Always remember

I had never experienced a hurricane of this magnitude; even hurricane Irene did not impact me in this fashion. I boarded my house because I was born in Puerto Rico and remembered my father always saying, “A hurricane is coming, it is time to board up the windows and bring out the generator.” And so that what I did on Sunday before the storm. We had been told by Stony Point police there was an evacuation alert, to be prepared to evacuate when the call came. I took all my important documents, lifted everything on a higher level, took my suit case and headed to my sister’s home. I remember my sister and I going out that Sunday night and noticing how warm and calm everything was before the storm.

Monday came and we all noticed that it was raining but not that hard; it was windy and a lot colder than the prior night. That is when my anxiety level became higher. Watching all the news channels did not make it any easier but I wanted to keep connected somehow. All day Monday my son, my family, friends and co-workers kept in touch with me. I still wondered if my house would still be in the community I lived in. By 8:00 p.m. Monday night as we were having dinner, the electricity went off and so we all said this is it. The rain became harder and the winds became fierce and that’s when we knew Sandy was here. I called my son to make sure he was ok and to let him know I was ok. I said goodnight, prayed and lay down to hear the storm go through.

On Tuesday, somehow we knew the storm had hit hard. My sister and my brother-in-law went out searching for coffee and were out for more than 2 hours. In the meantime, I got dressed, took all my belongings and waited. My sister returned and the news was bad. Streets were closed, trees and tree branches all over the roads, and boats on people’s home. Even knowing all this, I wanted to go home and find out what had happened to my home, to my neighbor’s homes and to my community. I called my friend who was able to come and drive me to my home, only to discover when we got there that the police was not allowing anyone to return home. The Hudson River had engulfed our community, the gas pipes had burst and the electric meters had been flooded. I went to my friend’s house 15 minutes from my home and waited until Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, when I returned home, we were told that we could go home, check for damage, empty our refrigerators, take anything of value because we would not know how long we were going to be out of our homes and we had to leave by 5:00 p.m., before it became dark. My friend and I walked home and as I was approaching my street it was obvious that Sandy had struck very hard. On my street there were 3 boats parked and all I could focus on was my home.

As we went up the stairs on the deck, I asked my friend to open the door because I did not want to be the first one to enter my home. As she opened the door, she went inside and said ” floor is not wet.” I said “check the entire house” and so she did and as I am about to say,”Thank you God” my next door neighbor is coming up my steps and declares, “My home is completely flooded." I gave her a hug and told her we will get through this together. At this point I understood the devastation of Sandy. It was my devastation, my neighbor’s devastation and my community’s devastation. Before we left that Wednesday, with the help of my son, his girlfriend Victoria, my Pastor, my church friends and my neighbor, we were able to somewhat clean inside, empty the refrigerator, clean most of our neighbors’ yards, and secure my home. I left that day with a lot of unanswered questions.

We were informed that until it was safe for us to return home and stay home we would be allowed to come back every day from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. until it was secure. For the rest of the week I would come home, help my neighbors, contact FEMA, contact my insurance company and wait. We were fortunate that our management company provided breakfast, lunch and dinner for those of us that were waiting. Our North Rockland community came together and helped our community with the cleanup and the Red Cross was also very helpful. By Sunday night for some of us our electricity and gas were working again and we were able to stay home. I cannot say the same for some of my neighbors who lost their homes and all their possessions.

Each day returning home from work (my house still boarded and lot of neighbors not home) I would run inside, sit and cry all night. This went on for about 3 weeks. I had a lot of questions but very few answers. I thank God, my son, Victoria, my son’s girlfriend my family, my friends, my church friends, and Stony Point Food Pantry for all their help and prayers.

It has been almost a year and we are still dealing with a lot of uncertainties, and we have bonded together to help each other so our community can be somewhat normal again.

I will always remember Sandy………………….and never forget………………………………