Washed Away: Far Rockaway The Day After Sandy

Editors Note: This post is from Brandon Melendez, who was affected by Hurricane Sandy. We thank him for sharing his story with us. -M.P.

With the devastation only starting to be assessed those of us living in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, along with the rest of the Eastern Seaboard, are starting to look at the jigsaw puzzle of our homes and neighborhoods and determine where to start putting the pieces of our lives back together. For me, luckily, the damage was minimal though I was one of the first to lose power in Rockville Centre, Long Island. Many of my friends and family were not so lucky–especially those from my hometown of Far Rockaway.

Once the morning sun had risen and we were able to get the news from our car radio that the streets were reasonably clear, we loaded into the car to assess the damage to my mother’s ground floor apartment in the Bayswater section of Far Rockaway. My cousin who had chosen not to evacuate called us last night, just a few hours after the storm hit to inform my mother that there was water well above her kitchen counter. Michael continued by telling us that we was going to swim to his friends house at higher ground where he had parked his car.

“Why couldn’t he wait to call until morning?” My mother wondered as we watched a rather tall and ancient tree in my front yard wave it’s arms in the air; it waved its arms like it didn’t care…but we were very concerned. The tree is tangled in our power lines, and though our power was already out nobody was terribly keen on the idea of the lines coming down and, unknown to us, electrifying our driveway. Luckily the arbor remained strong.

My mother, my wife, my son, and myself camped out in the living room while my daughter slept blissfully in her crib. When the dark morning sun greeted us weakly it was apparent the storm had passed, and through the patchy radio reception and dubious cell phone service we tried to get updates on our families, friends and neighborhood.

After going on a cabin fever fueled trip searching for coffee my mother and wife returned with breakfast from a local diner that miraculously still had electricity. We ate our greasy diner eggs and bacon with vigor, drank our hot, thin coffee with appreciation and headed to assess the damage. Along the way we found out that my father’s car in Long Beach was stolen by the sea and my in-laws street had been invaded by the Hudson River. News of the evacuated NYU Langione Medical Center was heart wrenching and reports of exploding transformers throughout the city evoked images of the kinds of destruction we had only seen in movies.

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