I live on the Jersey Shore and my house was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy. My family and I evacuated prior to the storm and everyone is fine. During Hurricane Irene we got water in the basement so we weren't expecting a 10 ft surge of water that put 4 ft of water throughout the house. Needless to say, nearly everything we owned was destroyed.
My wife and I have two kids, 9 and 11. When I ventured out the day after the storm and made it to my street, I was overwhelmed with what I saw. Houses were wide open, having been blown out by the surge. I had a terrible feeling in my stomach, not knowing what I was going to see when I turned the last bend to my house. All I could think was, "God, it looks like Katrina".
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I couldn't believe what I was looking at as I approached my house. The structure was standing but the porch was gone. The fence was blown out, the roof damaged and debris everywhere. The front door was off the house. When I got the courage to walk in I was definitely not prepared for what I saw. The water line was evident throughout the house and there was even a fishing net in the dining room. All of the household items were thrown throughout the house. All our clothing was destroyed.
So, I was thrust into something that I'm used to watching on television. For once, when my interest in the event waned, I couldn't simply turn the channel and move on. The first thing to go was the illusion that I've lived with since I moved out of my parents house some 25 years ago - that I am independent. I don't do charity. I don't need government. I appreciate government, I volunteered for and voted for Obama and I'm a die hard liberal but, in the end, it is for other's, not me.
The first person I saw, long before an insurance adjuster (I'm still waiting on my flood insurance) was FEMA. Within 24 hours, money was deposited in our checking account to help with housing. The outpouring from the community has been so inspiring. Clothing, gift cards and even cash. Firemen and police stopping to make sure we are okay when we are discarding our things and cleaning out the house. Carloads of strangers pulling up to help carry things and clean with us.
Anyway, it's turning into a long diary and still no apology. So here it is. I'm so deeply sorry to all the victims of Katrina that I allowed that to simply be a name. Katrina. I didn't send a dollar. I didn't give blood. I didn't offer to take time off work and go down and help. It seemed so far away and after a while even the television stopped showing me images, so it must have ended okay for all those folks, right? Well, I'm learning first hand what recovery looks like. I'm so thankful for everything we have, for everything we lost and for this opportunity to rebuild. Not my house - but my soul. Prior to this life event, I've not volunteered. I've not gotten to know my neighbors and I've not even developed good relationships with my family. Well, that is all changing now.