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SAMANTHA C: Making It Through a Stormy Time

Hey Jets Fans! October is always my favorite time of year. The weather changing, the color of the leaves outside, it just screams football and Halloween.

Oct. 28, 2012, is a date that will forever stand out to me. I can remember exactly where I was, of course, cheering on the sidelines during one of our games, having the time of my life. Not a care in the world besides are the Jets winning!? After a great game I went home and enjoyed the rest of the night with my family.

I remember there being high alerts for a hurricane that was coming our way. The sky was darker than usual that day, but nothing seemed to be happening. The next day the warnings continued and newscasters kept everyone updated every minute and encouraged people to evacuate.

Within the next couple of hours, the sky was extremely dark. The wind became very strong. That's when Hurricane Sandy hit.

I can feel the exact moment as if it was yesterday. My mom had been watching out the window all day to see if there was any flooding going on. There was no rain, so we didn't think there would be any. My mom came in the room to tell us she saw some water by our neighbor's house and thought we should just get some stuff together and leave.

Seconds after her saying that, I heard my neighbors screaming outside in a panic. I immediately ran downstairs to my room and started packing anything I could grab, which included my uniforms and pompons. My family, dog included, ran out of our house into water that was up to our knees. We got in our cars and tried to make it off of our street. As we tried to make it out the water just kept coming down the block. It looked like our car was halfway under water.

I remember sitting in the car as my mom drove down the block following my dad's car, crying and praying so hard that we just get out and go somewhere safe. Somehow we did, and until this day we don't know how. Not one of our neighbors made it out that night.

Once we were out we had to go somewhere safe. The streets were still flooding with water so we decided to go to my aunt's house. It was not far but the drive there was not easy. There were no street lights, traffic lights, the wind was gusting and trees were falling everywhere.

When we finally made it there, I just looked at my mom and could not believe what we just went through in a matter of 20 minutes. We stayed over my aunt's for the rest of the night. There was no flooding there, just power outage.

I was up all night thinking what we went through and saw as we were leaving our home. I kept thinking if the water went into our house and how bad was it going to be?

The next morning my parents went home to see what the damage was to our home. I did not hear from them for hours. I knew it had to be bad. I was so scared I did not know what to do. Later that day, they finally got in touch with us and said it was not good. We had 5 to 6 feet of water in our home and our whole first level was destroyed. This was including my bedroom which was on the first floor.

I remember going home and I could not believe what I was seeing. My whole neighborhood was wiped out. It looked like a war zone. Everyone was outside of their homes trying to clean up the mess that the storm had caused. Houses just right around the corner from me were completely gone. I remember everyone just looking helpless and feeling the same way.

It was like a nightmare that was just not ending. For weeks my family and I cleaned and went through all of our stuff to see what was salvageable and what we had to throw away, with the help of our family and friends, who all supported us and helped us through this terrible time. The worst part of it was not the material things we lost like clothes and shoes. We lost a lot of memories, pictures, scrapbooks and home videos.

We lived for weeks without power, heat and water. We traveled back and forth and stayed with family members. Even though our house was dark and freezing cold, for some reason it was the only place we wanted to stay together. The nights that we spent home in the dark with flashlights and candles, sitting around just talking to each other, reminiscing about all of our favorite memories and good times, brought us closer and made us stronger as a family.

Although it felt like our world was crumbling around us and at times we felt helpless and didn't know what to do, we all stuck together and powered through this tough time. My parents were my soldiers and warriors through all of this. It made me admire them more than I already did. They kept going no matter what. Our house was fixed within months and things were replaced little by little.

Nothing will ever make me forget this time in my life. I think this hurricane made us all realize to stop living life so quickly and rushing through everything. Realize what is important, appreciate each other, and never take anything for granted. Material things can be replaced and homes can be rebuilt, but family is one thing you cannot live without. Our families are the most valuable gifts we are given. Cherish every moment together.

This made us stronger and closer than ever before. Now we can look back to a year ago and be proud that we made it through all of the devastation together.

Thanks for letting me share my story, Jets Fans! I know there are still families out there trying to rebuild. My prayers are with you. Just remember to stick together and stay strong. It will get better soon!

—Samantha C

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