|Dunne Pl., a court that runs alongside my home, was flooded for some time after "Superstorm Sandy", as were many homes situated below street level in Sheepshead Bay.|
Many have taken notice of the lack of activity from me in the past few months on this and other websites. First, let me thank those of you who reached out to me to see why I haven't been my normal, chatty self - your friendship means a lot.
But things have been anything BUT normal lately.
Let me backtrack just a bit. When my best friend and co-host Russell Gallo went "all in" on his Assembly race, I did as well. It was a privilege to work with Russell - one of the few genuine, honorable people I know in politics and in life.
For many months, my normal routine was the same. I would go to work, then volunteer for Russ every spare moment I could, and then arrive home when my family was sleeping. Between legal work and campaign work, every spare hour was filled.
Towards the end of the campaign, as we all know, Superstorm Sandy hit and changed all of our lives. My home and my family were hit pretty hard. And everything that I knew to be "normal" was obliterated.
The night of the storm was the scariest experience of my life. Prior to and during the early part of the storm, I didn't think much would happen. After all, my family had lived in this home for 4 generations (my nephew is generation #5 to live here) and has never flooded. Never. But, I guess there's a first time for everything.
Right around 7 PM that night, the ocean came rolling up my street. Neighbors like me who didn't evacuate ran and drove up the street to higher ground. Water came into the house slowly at first. Then, the force of the surge blew my basement door off of its hinges and the deluge rushed in. By 9 PM, the two bedrooms in my basement were under 7 feet of water. Dressers, bookshelves and closets were tossed around as if they were light as a feather by the rising water.
When the water started coming in, I immediately worried about getting through the night. I knew there would be no rescue by police, fire or EMTs. Thank goodness for the CERT training my family and I took (and thanks Senator Golden for sponsoring it!) because it kicked into our brains and, as it turned out, saved us. I immediately closed our gas valve so no water would get into it and turned off our electrical breaker box for all rooms except our kitchen. We then moved my father's medical equipment to the kitchen and plugged everything in so he would be able to use it.
After that, we sat in the kitchen and waited.
Outside was like a war zone, or at least the closest I've ever come to a war zone. The courts behind my house that were below grade were completely flooding out families in those homes. Transformers were sparking and popping like popcorn. The wind was howling and suffocating to anyone who went out on our deck to see what we could see. A few houses away, a home was ablaze, with no help in sight. Every other house was in total darkness except our kitchen lights.
It felt like days, but it was only 90 minutes until the water outside started to recede.
The water in the courts behind my house couldn't recede once the water levels on the streets lowered. It was trapped. Many of my neighbors that stayed in those homes were trapped in their second floor. Others have to swim to stay alive. Over a week later, the water was still there.
Thankfully, we were safe.
We had our home and our health. Dad didn't require any medical attention, everyone else made it through fine for the most part (with many a frayed nerve). For the most part, we saved everything that was important. Photo albums were rescued. Clothing was bagged and laundered. Keepsakes were found. And thanks to the family's quick thinking, we never lost power, and our heating system was easily and quickly repairable within a week.
The next day, and everyday since, my family and I have been digging out from the storm. Compared to most, we were lucky - we only lost stuff. A lot of stuff. But it's just stuff. Stuff can be replaced in time.
I'm so proud of my family. Never did anyone sulk, or complain or look for pity or put on a sad face.
And not only did we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we reached out to our neighbors and helped them, too. While the menfolk (myself and my sister's fiance) were tearing down walls and bagging up what felt like tons of garbage, Mom and my sister Linda were checking on elderly neighbors and children in the area to make sure they were OK. Neighbors helping neighbors - it was a beautiful thing.
They were a big part of organizing food and clothing distribution and, later on, help set up a tool library to lend power tools to those who needed help with demolition. They were with everyone - government, elected officials, non-profits, more than a few crazy volunteers - and they were great. One day, there would be a truckload of clothing distributed in front of my house delivered from contacts upstate. Another day, it was a trailer load of tools donated by the Red Cross. They amazed me.
I'm especially proud of my sister, who found her inner advocate. She's been at the forefront of working to make sure, as she and Mom put it, "no neighbor will be left behind".
They even rescued a little Chihuahua-Yorkie mix from the ravages of the storm. Of course, what else could we name her but Sandy. She, like us, is also on the comeback trail.
There are so many details that I know I've left out, but that's the story in a nutshell. We're living what I call the new "normal" and adjusting to it more and more each day.
And very soon, that new "normal" will include talking politics on-air with my best friend on Brooklyn GOP Radio.