Hurricane Sandy – View of the aftermath from a houseboat in our canal

Looks so peaceful and yet the devastation is clear from the canal as well.

Hurricane Sandy – The Morning After – Tuesday 8am

This is Tuesday morning high tide which thankfully was in the street but not any higher. You can see the oil slick in the road, that was in our homes as well. We haven’t gone into our house yet, and the yellow house moved not only off the foundation, but forward over the rock garden that was in front of the house, and a boat that was in the side yard ended up with the front of the trailer in the foundation where the house should have been sitting.

Hurricane Sandy – Storm Surge 8:30pm EST

The water is actually coming from the east side of the island, that is a telephone pole in the water headed out to the ocean. Normally the water comes from the west side. A lot of stuff, including telephone poles, boats and porches came from the east side to the west, some got caught on the median of the main road, some went past us into the bay, some stopped at other people’s houses.

There is still a half an hour until the tide/surge peaked, but the street lights went out so no more videos. I’ll be posting photos another day.

Hurricane Sandy – Storm Surge 7:18 pm EST

We are still 2 hours from High Tide and the ice machine from the corner deli is moving out to the ocean.

Hurricane Sandy – Storm Surge at 7:09pm EST

You can see the flashing that I thought was lightening that is actually electric poles snapping and being hit by the water.

Hurricane Sandy – Surge at almost 7 pm EST

We are now in our neighbor’s house on the second floor. We watch helplessly as our house and the house we are in fill with water. When I called the insurance company they wanted to know if “the water seeped in”. I laughed and said rushed in is more like it.

Hurricane Sandy – White Caps Coming Down the Alley

Water is starting to move faster, tides are usually slow rising water, not with white caps and not from that direction.

Hurricane Sandy – Tide’s Getting up There

We have things packed up by this point, including the cats, getting ready to go over to the neighbor’s house and be on the second floor.

Hurricane Sandy – The Calm Before the Storm

The view of the day of and the night Superstorm Sandy hit as seen from West 10th Road in Broad Channel. Our island is one mile wide and 3 miles long and is over the bridge from the harder hit Rockaways and Breezy Point where 111 homes burned to the ground.

Why Didn’t We Evacuate?

I live on an island in Jamaica Bay in Queens, NY with my boyfriend Vinny, who has lived in the same house all his life. The island is 1 mile wide by 3 miles long. We are in evacuation zone A which was ordered to evacuate. In 2011 we were ordered to evacuate also, and we did. We went to Syracuse to a relative’s house. The water came up barely into the house, making the floors “squishy” but not a lot of damage. Getting home after the storm was a horrible experience because the roads in New Jersey and Pennsylvania had suffered a lot of damage.

Along comes Hurricane Sandy. A few things happened to make people not evacuate. First being that the mayor didn’t think it was going to be that bad and initially told people there would be no evacuations ordered. Second, NO ONE thought the storm would make that left turn, it never had before, why would it now. Third, we were being told the storm surge would only be a foot or two higher than Irene, putting water in the house but not all that high. And lastly, the storm was so large that there wasn’t really anywhere to evacuate *too*. We have cats, our evacuation area is Aqueduct Race Track, which now has a Casino attached to it, so there was a lot of joking about that. Nobody actually went there.

Since our experience with Irene was mostly ok, and the most difficult thing was getting home, we made arrangements to go into a neighbors house that was a two story house. Our houses have a common deck that is a couple feet high, so we were not worried about not being able to get into that house. We were expecting an “exceptionally high” moon tide, but for those on the water, high tides are common, they come in slow and you can easily get up above them.

The morning high tide came up to our second step, everyone was outside on their porches and stoops watching it rise. The evening tide was supposed to be a couple feet higher, and the storm surge was supposed to be mostly affecting Lower Manhattan. That’s what we were hearing on the news. Not that *we* were going to get a 13 foot storm surge. We thought we would be overnight at the neighbor’s house on the second floor and the water would come and go and we would be able to go back and forth between the houses for clothes, medications, cat food and other things we should have brought. We had put laptops and hard drives and clothes and suitcases up high on desks and shelving and on top of dressers. I’ll talk more about that in a subsequent post.

The decision not to leave was based on misinformation, past experience from those that lived on the island a long time, and the lack of anywhere to go. Had we left, it would have prolonged our ability to get our houses emptied of salt water contaminated with home heating oil and propane gas soaked contents. At the most we would have saved a suitcase full of clothes and a few more electronics. In the end we would still lose our home and everything in it.

We were prepared for 2 feet of slow rising tide, not prepared for a fast moving tsunami-like storm surge. We barely made it into the neighbor’s house before the surge started. We got our cats into their house, I grabbed my MacBookPro and a few papers from my desk and those plus the clothes on our back is all we had. And our cameras. As a pro photographer, I always have to have my camera. We have photos and videos I will be sharing in the coming weeks.

Hurricane Sandy Has Changed My Life

Hurricane Sandy has impacted a lot of lives, mine is one of them. On this section of I am going to blog a book, which means I am going to tell you about my experiences, lessons learned, and how you can learn from the mistakes myself and others made and how you can be prepared for a natural disaster that might come your way.

Surfers on the Beach

This is a great video that expresses why people stayed, what we thought would happen and how residents directly on the ocean dealt with the hurricane and it’s aftermath. A community of surfers that came together to help.

Hell or High Water – Hurricane Sandy and Broad Channel

A great documentary of Superstorm Sandy and aftermath in our town of Broad Channel. Here is the description from YouTube:

This is our final project for our Fall 2012, TRF 659, Documentary Production class. Thank you to everyone who made this film possible, especially the residents of Broad Channel, NY. I hope you all enjoy. Executive Producer: Richard Breyer. Director of Photography: Meg Rindfleisch. Producer: Kate VanEchaute. Editor: Brooke Huddleston. Enjoy! (some edits still need to be made, but for the sake of getting this out there sooner or later- here it is.)