The scariest thing about watching my street become one with the river wasn't that my neighborhood was completely flooded, it was knowing we were the lucky ones. The building in front of us had dozens of recently evacuated apartments on the ground floor that were being engulfed as I watched. I knew several families in low-lying areas whose basements were being swallowed by the river. While we lost cable and internet access, most folks in our neighborhood lost power and, as we learned days later, many people lost their homes and loved ones.
For us, the days leading up to and after Sandy were an opportunity to hit the reset button. We stocked up on groceries. filled our tubs with water and listened to the weather reports on TV until we couldn't listen anymore. Growing up in the midwest where snow-days were cause for celebration, it was fun to tell Monkey that he didn't have school on Monday. After two months of shuttling him to school at 7:30 in the morning, languishing in our pajamas was a luxury. My husband worked from home and even though he was busy toiling at the computer, the kids loved having him in close proximity. There was no opportunity for outside distractions because the clouds looked threatening and – as I saw for myself when I stepped outside - winds were almost strong enough to knock people over
As the storm hit in the afternoon, we watched with amazement as the water began to rise and we even let Monkey see the water pouring over the street before he went to bed. The lights flickered on and off, but it wasn't until the kids were both asleep that we lost cable and thus lost access to internet, television and our home phone line.
Thankfully our radio kept us informed and I had sporadic text messages coming through so we could keep in touch with family and friends. Without errands to run (and nowhere to go), we filled our time working on tasks that we never had time to complete. I sorted through the kids' clothes and filled bags of hand-me-downs to give to friends. I glued Monkey's wooden bike back together, hemmed pants and did a lot of baking and cooking. Instead of being stir crazy with both kids stuck inside all day, it was a relief to have no obligations besides to each other.
On Tuesday afternoon the whole family bundled up to take a tour of the wreckage. All the playgrounds were closed because of downed trees and scattered river debris. The supermarket and drug store had floors littered with items swept off the shelves. Cars on the street were covered with leaves and dirt, while the cup-holders inside were filled with river water. That evening we were able to host a playdate for friends who needed to charge their phones as well as a change of scenery.
The next day friends got together again for pancakes at my place and a Halloween party across the street since all related festivities had been canceled and schools were closed for the week. The closest tunnel to NYC was closed, the PATH train that runs into New York was (and still is) closed and driving curfews were imposed, which meant everyone was working from home so long as they had internet access. Because of that, Sandy ended up being an opportunity for our family to spend time with our beloved neighbors instead of rushing by them, promising to get together soon.
When our cable returned and I was finally able to see the devastation that had taken place in the other boroughs, I was horrified by the extent of the damage Sandy had inflicted and grateful that we didn't have to salvage our home, our streets, or our health from the wreckage. In the last few days I've donated items to organizations and given the workers outside some treats in appreciation of their hard work. It's not much, but once the kids are back in school, I hope I can donate not just items, but time and effort. Tragedies like this teach us to revaluate what we have, share kindness and to hold our loved ones close. We've been reset indeed.