As of the morning on Sunday October 28, there was no rain or any visible signs a hurricane would hit the east coast. When talking to my parents, both of them felt that the storm was simply built up and exaggerated. However, if my friends were making a big deal of it, why not take the opportunity to head home and get a good night’s rest in my own bed? So I was one of the first to pack up my things, get in the car and head home.
I guess it was risky going home before Lehigh classes had officially been cancelled, but I was willing to hedge my bets. By the next morning, classes were cancelled, but there was still no storm. My family was going about their normal activities in Westchester, NY without much fear considering we had recently purchased a generator that was installed for our house. However, we were worried about my aunt and her newborn baby who was on a heart monitor. Living on the water in Rumson, NJ, my aunt had spent the last few days purchasing as much water, food and supplies that she could scavenge.
Tuesday morning my house woke up to various news channels displaying the damage that had occurred over night from the hurricane. It was like magic. Our power was out, but luckily our generator kicked in. The hurricane had officially hit. My aunt had spent the night at a surgical center that was using a generator for basic needs such as heat and limited electricity. Our family was in a panic. The heart monitor that the baby is required to be connected to for four weeks runs on a battery that must be charged every 5 hours.
We needed to find a way to get my aunt and her family safely to our house. My mom and I went out of our house for the first time in over 24 hours. Trees were down everywhere, entire power lines were destroyed and homes everywhere had damage. After an hour of driving on whatever roads we could, we finally found a route that that would lead to our house.
Once the bridges were open Wednesday, my aunt and her family made their way from Rumson, NJ to Westchester, NY. They were relieved once they arrived safely and the baby could be properly cared for.
Then the generator died.
We weren’t sure whether we should laugh or cry. The ironic circumstances of a brand new generator dying just two hours after our refugees arrived were hard to believe. Our contractor worked day and night for the next two days to try and find a solution. Luckily because he felt bad, he hooked up the house to a temporary generator that powered one room.
All eight of us remained in tight quarters for the next eighteen hours until the power went on. Although it was a lovely treat to be able to spend some quality time with the newest and cutest member of our family, the fear of something happening to her heart without us knowing was something I would never like to go through again.
After I returned to school that following Sunday, my aunt and her family remained at my house for an additional week. Their house was one of the last to get power in their town.
The damage that happened to my own town was shocking enough, but my personal connection with Hurricane Sandy is to its victims from areas like my aunts. We must work to help restore their towns and homes, and strive for protection plans that can help protect the people with stories similar to my own.
#COMM30Sandy is an online class project for the Media & Society class at Lehigh University, taught by professor Jeremy Littau. You can donate to our campaign at this link, and for more infomation you can email Prof. Littau at jeremy.littau(at)lehigh.edu.