The Humble Grandfather

We met Michael Coleman on MLK day this year at his apartment in Hoboken. He was a good natured, humble man who had many stories to tell, many of which involved Hurricane Sandy.

He is a grandfather of eight who lives on the seventh floor of a government subsidized apartment complex. He showed us pictures of all of his grandchildren and spoke of them with tremendous pride. His family live all across the United States, the closest of who are in New Hampshire and he couldn’t contact any of them during the storm. He also spoke openly about his experience during the ordeal and how it impacted the community of the building and wider Hoboken. He knew a great deal about not only how his life was disrupted by the storm, but also how it disrupted the lives of many others in his community, from power to businesses lost.

The most memorable moment for him was the first night. The sound of the wind rattling his windows stuck in his mind above all else. It proved to him just how serious the hurricane was. He spoke about coming home at night after walking through the damaged town and having to walk up seven flights of stairs in total darkness. Even as most of Hoboken came back to life, his apartment remained cold and dark. It took him two weeks to regain power and three for heat. For many nights he felt alone and isolated, wishing he had taken the opportunity to leave before the storm hit. However, despite this, he spoke with gratitude about the simple peanut butter sandwiches he was able to eat.

The sympathetic man spoke of how the community of the building came together to help one another through the plight of the hurricane. How the more vulnerable they were, the more support they gave each other. It is because of this fact, despite all the hardships suffered, he was grateful for the people around him who he needed, and who needed him.