In the hours leading up to the storm, my husband and I filled the bath tub with water, brought out candles and flashlights and showered. So by the time the electricity was cut around 8pm, we were prepared. With nothing to do but wait out the storm, we were glued to our 2nd story window in Manhattan's South Street Seaport. Yes, we were in Zone A, a mandatory evacuation area, but with many of our friends in the same situation, where were we and our two dogs to go?
As the water rose outside our door from 2 feet to 5 feet in a half an hour, we were thankful that our apartment was not on the ground level. As cars became submerged and supplies from nearby restaurants floated by, we watched the city go dark one building at a time.
By 9:30pm, the water started to recede and knowing there was nothing more to do, we blew out the candles and retreated to bed happy that we'd charged our iPad and had a temporary distraction.
As the light of day broke Tuesday morning, we stepped into our rain boots, leashed up the dogs and went to survey the damage. The 11 foot surges had receded back into the East River leaving trash and debris all over our neighborhood. People on bikes were arriving from Brooklyn to photograph the damage and gawk at the destroyed restaurants on Front Street. The freestanding bar we saw floating by our window the night before had come sailing out of the busted glass planes that once enclosed our local pub around the corner.
As our landlord powered up a small generator to start pumping water out of our basement and lobby, we retreated to our apartment to eat any remaining food in our fridge and to find out how everyone else had weathered the storm. As afternoon approached and the water was cleared from our building we rolled up our sleeves to pitch in and help. We cleared out the lobby salvaging what we could and started trash piles on the street.
Throughout these next few days as we wade through the mess and figure out how much damage has really been done, applying my wellness philosophy to remember these few, but important things will be a big help.
Be Grateful -- While damage was done, power was lost and life will not return to normal for a dew days, I will use this time to reflect on the fact that I have my health, my family and a roof over my head. While I give thanks for these things daily, there's nothing like Mother Nature to give you a swift reminder that we are luckier than most.
Clean is Cathartic -- Throwing away damaged items while not fun, is freeing. Most of the stuff accumulated and stored in the basement was sentimental. It might be sad to see it go, but we were really holding on the memory in the first place. And though now the actual items are gone, we can hold onto the memory without the physical baggage.
Your Community is There to Help -- In times of crisis, New Yorkers especially, want to help. It's been a comfort to receive text messages with offers food, shelter and moral support. Our friends and neighbors have pulled together to share cleaning supplies and swap stories. Often times in New York you couldn't pick out your neighbors from strangers on the street, but in times of need, everyone comes together as one for the common goal of reestablishing the community and reacquainting all of us with the notion that sometimes we all just need a little help from our friends.