My first stop was Rockaway Beach, one of the two areas I visited that were greatly affected by hurricane sandy back in late October of 2012. My friend Christine along with her husband and two sons live in Rockaway and were home the day the storm hit. Christine and her kids took me for a walk along the beach, just up the street from their house, and when I began seeing damage with my own eyes, my first instinct was to take a picture but the funny thing is, as soon as I reached for my phone, I had this feeling like it would be so wrong to take a picture – I was there, seeing it with my own eyes and no photo will ever replace the images I was seeing by being there. Seeing the current condition of Christine’s house was also awakening and we then took tour through the town, in many cases all that was left was a big empty chasm where once a house stood. Sand in the streets, blocks from the beach, water line markings and a host of reminders of what that storm left behind, despite months of cleanup from first strike are just some of the things that I witnessed. We then visited about half a dozen homes of others who were affected, part of my trip was to deliver handmade afghans (made by a dedicated group of knitters at my church); for each of the homes I visited, I presented them with one of the afghans. I don’t quite know how to describe the reaction I got when I handed off the afghan – but it was one of those things where the only reason there were words is because it’s the way we communicate, because I can’t really explain the reaction or how it made me feel, other than realizing how much it means to these victims that others are thinking about them, praying about them, and helping where they can. This all was such a beautiful thing to be a part of!After my time in Rockaway, I headed to the nearby Breezy Point, a small beach community with a unique history. My friend John and his wife Christine live there and suffered a great deal of damage to their home; but their home was salvageable, unlike the ones that once stood on the many empty spaces I saw on Saturday. Of course salvageable is relative, and again, words fail me. The fact is, I could go on and on and expend many different words and only end up saying the same thing. John gave me a tour, again, I got to hand out some beautiful afghans and spread some love.
I think if I can drive one point home, it’s that while nearly 7 months have passed and so much has happened in our world since that hurricane, there is still so much to be done, years and years of work and an exorbitant amount of money. Please remember all who were affected and if you have the ability to help in any way, please do so.