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Sandy the Next Phase Patricia Ripley
We walked around our neighborhood, checking the roads and the homes. It was going to be a long recovery. We were traumatized; the whole town was traumatized. What was next? We assessed our damage and tried all our systems. The only thing that worked was the stove, we lit it with a match; we could cook. We moved all our food into the freezer to save what we could. We looked at the smashed garage door with 5 feet of water in the basement; it was going nowhere. All our neighbors were in the street cleaning up. A couple from up the street came with big black trash bags, (soon be the most common sight in town); they helped us clear our front porch and patio of debris & washed up dune plants. A huge pile of trash began to build at the end of our street. A man came by handing out peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. We snarfed them down
We had no radio or TV to find out what had happened and what was to happen; no cell phone service. Butch went over to Shayne's house and jump-started their car. It ran for a few blocks, then the airbags exploded. The water had rushed in up to their windows with the surge and then two hours later, gone. We tried to start our neighbor's car, the one that had floated into the street, to no avail. It was toast.
As we began to clean up our yard we found parts of the boardwalk, dune debris and our neighbors' gear, which had floated in from their yards and garages. A cooler had washed into our yard; we cleaned it to store our food in it on the back porch. Butch said some of the roads were passable so we drove over to the firehouse cell tower. We parked nearby and got enough service to call the studios. They were closed for two days. The subways were down. No one could get to us including our clients. The city had taken a big hit.
We charged our phones in the cars, in the Cruiser without being started; the Volvo had to be running. We had filled the tank in the Volvo before the storm and the Cruiser had a ½ tank. I began to remove the sand from the back yard, thinking I could save the lawn. We worked for 10 hours that day: raking, shoveling and dumping it in places where it had been displaced in the yard, Jeannie helped. It got dark; we were cold, wet and "sandy". We cooked soup & noodles. Everyone slept together in our bed, including Savannah our cat. It was tough trying to fall asleep, but we knew tomorrow was going to be hard work so we got a few hours. We got up it was cold but sunny. We worked another long day til after sunset. Mid-day we took a break and a walk. The National Guard was everywhere in camouflaged Hummers. Helicopters were buzzing all day and night. We got food from the Red Cross mobile truck. We were vegetarians but the meatball sandwich went down without a second thought. We sat on a curb in the sun, ate and contemplated.
By the 3rd day I told Butch we needed to get our family out of town. We put Shayne's family in our Volvo, we in the Cruiser and caravanned into Manhattan. The Cruiser was running out of gas so we parked it on West 82nd St. in front of our old apartment. We put Jeannie in the Volvo with Shayne. Butch and I took the subway to 520. Butch drove the Volvo to the upper West side to park it, but it failed and had to be towed to a shop.
That night we all went to a local Irish pub for dinner. We were exhausted but we had a warm place to sleep and food. We were now officially homeless. It was the 1st of November and a new chapter began, one of recovery, which included endless paperwork, phone calls, emails, interviews, FEMA applications, lawyers and insurance forms, another story in itself. Next the cleanup and the future....to be continued ....