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Memories of Superstorm Sandy

Categories: General, Natural Disasters, Preparedness, Response

Flooded Street

By Gaetina Hodnett

It was a cloudy Monday in late October 2012 when Superstorm Sandy approached Long Island.  The weather reports were frequent and very informative; however, I didn’t think the storm would have any impact on my family because of our experience with Hurricane Irene the previous year.  We live less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and sustained minimal damage after Hurricane Irene. 

Throughout the day it didn’t rain much but it was very cloudy.  Seeing this, I was confident that Sandy would pass through leaving us relatively unscathed.  My preparation for the storm merely involved moving patio furniture from the decks and flower pots to secure places.

The Hodnett's front yard.

After speaking to our neighbors, some of them chose to leave but my husband and I decided to stay in our home and endure the storm.  My husband moved my car to higher ground and left his SUV in the driveway.  After the car was moved, we pulled out our candles and flashlights and felt prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

As the day progressed, I looked out my window and noticed that the sky had become very dark.  The winds were heavy and torrential rains had moved in. Utility pole lines swayed rapidly and water rose quickly in my front yard. My husband put pumps in the garage to combat the water but this was a futile attempt to remedy the situation. I watched in disbelief and helplessness as I realized that even the most powerful pump could not sway the raging waters that were taking over our home. We needed to come up with a plan of action if the water didn’t stop pouring into the house.

Back yard

The Hodnett's back yard.

Seeing how quickly things were progressing, my husband went to turn off the main power of the house to prevent a fire and move his car to higher ground. The time that he was gone felt like an eternity and I was afraid to be alone. Thoughts raced through my mind. Could the wind have blown electric lines in the water?  Would my husband be able to make his way safely back through the rapidly rising water? I thought for sure something had gone wrong because of the water, wind, and darkness.  When I opened the door to go find my husband and evacuate, he was standing there and informed me that the water was too deep for us to try to navigate through. We had no choice. We had to stay put and wait out the storm.

We watched powerlessly from our window as the water continued to rise. The wind was fierce and the entire neighborhood was dark. When the water reached the third step of our high ranch home, we decided that we would climb to the roof if the water continued to rise. After the storm, the National Guard knocked on the door to assist us in evacuating our home. As we watched the waters recede after high tide, we were relieved and thankful that our home, even flooded with four feet of water, remained standing.

flooded first level

The first floor of the Hodnett home.

After our long, dark, stormy, and windy night with Superstorm Sandy, I thought about the choices we made both before and during the storm. The choice my husband and I made will impact us for the rest of our lives. Regretfully, we were not prepared for Sandy. The cost was astronomical in the loss of sentimental items – such as pictures, videos, and other personal items – that tied us to special memories of our past.  Despite that loss, I feel we are blessed to be alive and share our story.

In the future, I will be proactive in being prepared for all hurricanes and storms by following the advice and recommendations to avoid another horrific experience. My husband and I will take every storm warning seriously because every storm is different and the level of impact will be different.  You never know what can happen and we won’t be taking any more chances.

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  1. July 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm ET  -   David M. Williams

    As most people run of time to prepare when a storm approaches, prioritization takes on key importance. You can’t think of everything as you try to cope with the reality of what you may face. Make a checklist of what you will do, pack, protect, and bring with you. For important items that you can’t take with you, wrap them in plastic bags (like trash can liners). Wrap the item and then seal it with duct tape, and then write your name and address on the item. Then wrap and seal it again. Place items as high up as you can and then cover all your wrapped items with a plastic sheet. By using a check list of prioritized items, you will protect your most important items first before you run out of time or plastic bags. Living by the water has its costs and demands, but I would much prefer to spend time and money to protect family treasures than to regret the aftermath of not doing enough in the time before the storm. If you have the supplies available, your preparations can be much easier.

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