By now you know the ending of the story. Most of Staten Island lost power–some for up to a month.
Hundreds lost their homes.
24 people lost their lives.
It felt so weird that neighborhoods I had hung out in my whole life looked like war zones.
There were days when I didn’t think I would be able to face it. But part of me knew I had to. It felt right, sharing the stories of those who had lost so much.
As for my car, we found it several days later. It floated from the back of the parking lot, over wooden spikes, across four lanes of traffic, into a ditch. When we opened up the glove compartment, water fell out.
We did manage to rescue my tripod and a camera case. I still use the tripod, to this day.
They kept the car in my office parking lot for about 8 months after the storm. The bottom fell out, and the sides were bashed in. It was a daily reminder that I almost died.
As for me? I had pretty bad PTSD for a while. The worst was during the immediate aftermath, when I was staying at my grandparents’ house. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. Once they got cable back, I watched the news obsessively, even though I was living it. A tree had fallen on their house, but was resting against the roof. One night, it moved, which made it feel like an earthquake. I woke up screaming.
I also tried to volunteer, but seeing all the donations and the people helping out gave me a panic attack, so I had to go home.
I considered going to therapy, but then it mostly went away. It still comes back sometimes though. Just the other night I had a nightmare that my house was unstable and about to collapse.
But even though there were so many bad things that came of it, I also saw so much good. People from all over the country came to help the victims. Neighbors helped neighbors. Strangers helped each other. Donations poured in by the thousands.
Even though there were bad things, there was so much that made me feel so good. And so even though Sandy was clearly the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me, it made me a stronger, better person.
So when I look back on that day, a year ago, I can still hear the transformers blowing and the power line sizzling. I can see all the dust and dirt and mold. But I also feel the goodness that came after–the human spirit that can never be knocked down.