Sunday, December 23, 2012
I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders."
The storm passed and silence fell on Long Beach. For the next 2 days, I was in complete oblivion, still in shock after what happened. All seemed like a wild dream at the time, I think I was sleeping 12 hours a day during those days, not being able to differentiate what was real and what wasn't.
I didn't have a plan on my way out, though I knew I had to. All my neighbors left one by one, and I was the only one left in an empty, dark, cold building. When the 3rd day came, and it became clear that power wouldn't be back in the foreseeable future, I knew I had to get out. I took my gym back, threw in few things, and left the building with no plan in mind.
The Long Island Rail Road station was closed of course, but I was lucky to find a couple of cabbies who were driving close distances. One of them agreed to take me to JFK, and so we went. From JFK, I made it to the city right before Mayor Bloomberg made it mandatory to have more than 2 people in a car. When later I finally looked back on everything that happened, I knew that God was carrying me the whole time.
To say that I am fortunate to have great friends would be an understatement. I'm blessed to have the most amazing people to be my friends. All of them were calling me, offering help, inviting me to stay with them. And that's what I did for a month to come.
My first stay was on Upper East side (thank you my dearest Val). I was shocked to see that life was going on as usual on UES, people going out, eating, drinking, having fun, when just an hour drive away people were cut off from the reality with no power, no water, no place to go. That's when I learned my 2nd lesson during this whole experience: life is unfair, and there will always be someone who suffers and someone who doesn't. My first lesson was (in case I didn't mention it in my first post about Sandy): Anything could happen. Nature is in charge.
The second shock was when I watched news on what happened to other damaged areas. People lost their homes, they had no food, no water. My situation faded next to them. I was fortunate to have survived, with my belongings undamaged, and priceless experience gained.
The following month, November, I was staying with different friends in the city, traveling to Boston, Minneapolis, visiting those I hadn't seen in a long time. Everyone was so sweet and loving. That's when I learned my 3rd lesson: Relationships with others can tell us who we are. I must have done something right in this life to have such great friends.
God's presence was throughout the whole time, and when I share all my lessons during this experience you'll see why.
My new home was deemed "Red" by FEMA, which meant not livable but not under demolition. Simply put, no one could stay there till it's repaired. The whole ground level was flooded and destroyed, the roof on the right side was blown off. There was a lot of work to be done. So just when I was informed that it would take months (3 or more) to fix my building the most amazing thing happened.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Here are some pics from those two memorable days I spent on Long Beach during the storm. The first one is of the day before Sandy. The waves were big and glorious, surfers had the best time.
Pictures below are of the day of the hurricane, and capture the ocean making it to the street. I was on the boardwalk the whole time, and experienced it firsthand.
Pictures taken at night are from my balcony. As you can see the ocean made it to my street and kept going, and it was still few hours away from the high tide. My phone died when we reached the high tide and images of the waves at full force are, unfortunately, mental. But take my word for it, the waves rushing through my building and blocks ahead were as big as surfing ones at the beach the day before.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Mere longevity is a good thing for those who watch life from the sidelines. For those who play the game, an hour may be a year, a single day's work an achievement for eternity."
Very happy to be back and let you in on what happened to me since my last post. I know it wasn't the smoothest move to drop one "confusing" line after hurricane Sandy and disappear for a month. But once I tell you what happened last month, you'll understand the reason for my MIA.
So remember the post where I mentioned big changes coming my way? I wasn't kidding. The changes exceeded even my own expectations. My whole life took an unexpected turn, and everything changed. Everything.
It all started in September, when summer was coming to an end, and I started getting restless about approaching winter and not being able to go to the beach on the weekends. What can I say, last summer spent on Long Beach made me truly fall in love with it. After 11 years, I was ready to say good bye to my first love (NYC), and move on to my 2nd.
That's how I decided to move to Long Beach. I'll give you all a few seconds to digest, as I know you'll need it. Yes, leaving New York was shocking to all, even myself... But I was determined. I was ready to kiss the city good bye and move to the City by the Sea.
Over the summer, I made quiet a few friends on Long Beach, and finding a perfect place right by the beach was the easiest thing. I was excited, counting days before my move, going out with friends, saying good buy to my New York.
But sometimes life has its own plans for us that we have no control over. My move was on October 28th, the day before Sandy hit the Northeast. Did I hear about a hurricane coming our way? Yes. Did I care about mandatory evacuation? No. I moved to Long Beach. I was happy, sitting on the boardwalk watching surfers catching the biggest waves I'd seen in my life. The most beautiful experience for me. Even when reporters from the Fox 5 news said that we should evacuate as it would be the biggest storm in NY's history, I didn't care. I was home.
The next day, Sandy came. And you know what happened. You saw the news. Well, I was there, I saw it live, I lived it. In fact, I was on the boardwalk, taking pictures and videos, right when the ocean broke through the gate, and made it to the streets. I ran for life, with water up to my knees and rising, and wind blowing so hard I doubted I would make it home. Was I scared? No. I was fascinated by the nature, and its force. How foolish of us to think that we are in charge here on Earth...
Somehow, I made it home. All my neighbors stayed in, and were having a "Sandy" party. But the next 4 hours became my life's Titanic. The water was getting higher and stronger. It made it to our building, it was rising by minutes. In an hour, everyone who lived on the lower level had to evacuate upstairs. Girls were saving some clothes, some things, as the water was streaming thru the doors and windows.
I saw it approaching my level, and praying for the high tide, which was still 3 hours away. Standing on my balcony was like standing on Titanic, water was everywhere, surfing waves right outside my window and all around. I didn't panic, except for one moment when I called my friend Jonathan to ask to pray for me, and the reception was lost before I could hear him speak, and so was power around the island. We were cut off from the rest of the world. Exactly at 9pm we reached the high tide, and the ocean stood still. I don't remember exactly what happened next, I might have passed out. Just remember waking up the next day at 9am, and being surprised to see that the water receded back to the beach, leaving sand behind. We walked around the sandy streets, taking pictures of the damages Sandy caused. We were in a silent shock. That's how I spent the following two days, with no water, no power, no cell service, in complete oblivion.
Don't ask me how, but on the 3rd day, I was able to make it back to the city. The shock of my personal experience was overshadowed by what I saw on the news. We were lucky to be alive.
To be continued...