Union City, NJ – We were one of the last to lose our power Monday night and one of the last to get it back in our area. Our apartment has a generator, one of the big fancy ones that you would see outside of an important building, but the generator didn’t hold up. Five days and five nights without electricity or heat. The damage wasn’t bad at all; just a few slanted electricity poles, a few trees had fallen and there was no flooding since we live on a hill.
I knew I couldn’t complain because others had lost their homes, treasured items and family members. As long as I had my family and we had somewhere to stay where we were safe, I knew we would get through it. The night that the storm started was something we definitely never experienced. Living in a city you wouldn’t expect for wind to do so much damage since so many buildings are on one street. Our house shook while the sky lit up in blue, green and orange. It wasn’t lightning, but transformers exploding, a few even catching on fire. The sound of sirens, wind and rain slamming against the windows made it a sleepless night.
When the storm had finally settled down and people started to go outside because there was nothing else to do, it felt chaotic. People ran to hardware stores to buy red tanks to store gas, the lines for gas were blocks long and not all of the gas stations were open because they didn’t have electricity. For the first time I saw trucks from the National Guard in my town, it felt like a scene from War of the Worlds and I was half expecting to see Tom Cruise. But we managed to get through those five days and all I could think about was the people who lived down the shore and how the memories of my last summer spent there suddenly weren’t the same.
So when the lights came back on I knew I had to do something to help. Since it was five days after, many shelters weren’t taking clothing donations and we couldn’t donate food because all of the stores were practically empty. Thanks to twitter, I found out that a small church in Staten Island needed clothing donations. After packing two big laundry bags with coats, my dad’s old Levi’s, sweaters, scarves and sneakers we drove to Staten Island. During the storm I stayed updated on the news and what was going in my city through Facebook on my smart phone that I had to charge in our car and I saw how towns nearby were really coming together and it wasn’t really happening where I lived. Neighbors checked on each other, but that was about it. We didn’t get a shelter till three to four days afterwards and we never even saw our mayor. We got flyers about places to seek shelter and advice on how to keep warm, etc. but he never made an appearance. What I learned from this hurricane is that you should always be prepared and if others aren’t always as willing to give or help, it’s okay because I know I always will.