New York City relief: Day eight

One week. It’s been one week since our group left Tampa International Airport bound for New York City. When we left, we had only an incomplete idea of how bad things were up here.  Now, we have the stories and photos to back up what we had suspected all along… this storm was devastating.

I spoke with a guy who works for the city’s department of transportation. He and his crew were out on Staten Island doing debris removal. It also turns out that the neighborhood he was working in was where he and his wife were looking for a home for their young family. They had settled on an area with newer, well manicured homes. In fact, he was able to show me a picture of the home from a real estate website.

The house before the storm

Nice place, right?  Well, after a few hours of work, he ended up in this same neighborhood. He didn’t realize it for a while, because the damage was so extensive. But, after a while, he determined that he was at the same house. And, here’s what it looked like.

The house after

This is how all of the homes in that neighborhood looked. The damage was surreal, with piles of debris taller than the truck he was driving. Totaled cars littered the streets, which had to be pushed out of the way to make room for the rescue vehicles. And, the stories of the survivors were enough to send shivers up the spine of a tough New Yorker.

One resident described how he was stuck in a second floor room of his house - with water already pouring through the window. He saw his neighbor’s house floating down the street in front of his home, close enough to leap on to. So, he grabbed his family and they made the jump. As they were drifting down the street, the house they were in less than a minute before collapsed, which would have been fatal. 

The upper story of a destroyed home

Stories like this were all too common. It will take a long time for people to recover from this.

While life - and news - moves on, it’s important that we not lose sight of the massive rebuilding effort that will be required. As we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, let’s remember the folks here who are recovering and those assisting with that recovery.

Click here for a list of organizations that are helping with the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.