The following are student reactions to Hurricane Sandy. They are examples of journals, as well as creative pieces. Authors include: Courtney Wiseman, Skyler Post, Rachel LaBrunda, James Vilardo, Riley Dixon, Dan Meusel, Kelly Nolte, and Ryan Wilson.
Blessings Out of the Debris
by Courtney Wiseman
I am truly blessed just to be living the life I have. It is a miracle to see, breathe, and walk every day. As selfish as this may sound, I take my life for granted every day. I never stop and cherish how lucky I am to have a family that supports me, to be a healthy teenager and to have a roof over my head. When Hurricane Sandy hit, I was finally able to see how wonderful my life is.
The news stations all stated that flooding would be prominent in the areas by the shore. They did mention that there would be 50mph winds, but I thought little of it. Wind never killed anyone, right? My power went out sometime during the night; I can’t remember exactly when. But I do remember I was in the middle of a program and I was slightly peeved that I couldn’t finish it. My mom (who was always prepared, no matter how small the problem) brought out flashlights, candles, and a portable radio in a matter of minutes. She had five flashlights and seven candles out, despite there only being three people at my house. I laughed at her for being over prepared, but as the hours dragged on, I found myself terrified.
The wind was hitting the house at full force. I could hear the ripping of the shingles. The roof was lifting up and slamming back down on the house. I was scared. So was my dog. The night, however, was not ending so I did the only thing I could do, sleep.
The next morning, my family and I got up to inspect the damage. Our house was still intact (minus a couple of shingles which had decided to go flying into the yard). My house is completely surrounded by trees, so it was surprising that only one tree got knocked over. However, that tree was the biggest tree on the property. The wind was in our favor though. If the wind was going in the opposite direction, it could’ve completely crushed my house. And, if my calculations were correct, it would’ve hit right where I was sleeping.
Do I consider myself lucky? No doubt. Do I need to stop rushing through life and actually appreciate it? Absolutely. Hurricane Sandy taught me to hug my family a bit tighter, laugh with my friends more often, and to stop and cherish my life a bit more.
by Skyler Post
Does society take everything in life for granted or do we all just become a bit too comfortable with all of our privileges? Natural disasters are exactly what they’re called, disasters. But doesn’t everything happen for a reason? I’ve realized that everything in life cannot stay perfect; tragedies are what break us down to build us back up, except better than what we were before. Disasters help people to appreciate what they had and still do have in life.
At the end of the day you look around at the family you have and become more thankful for them. You look at the parts of your home you have and feel more blessed than ever. You experience emotions you haven’t felt in a while. Even the people who lose some or all, they gain a fresh start, a new beginning. In situations like this one, you get to see everyone pull together and give a helping hand. But we also get to witness people’s ugly side come out. It’s bittersweet.
I’ve realized to what extent other’s will go to in order to charge a phone or to be able to use hot water. The world used to run without these things, people’s values used to be very different. Is it worth bringing violence into something so much as in getting gas? I’ve realized that our world is run by technology nowadays. Every once in a while we should think about how good we have it. We need to all realize how easy it is to have all of these extraordinary tools and gadgets taken away from us. But most importantly we should put that technology down here and there and appreciate life in general. Never waste a moment with family and friends. Never take anyone or anything for granted.
The saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” is the truest of all when disasters like Hurricane Sandy hit. Society has become too comfortable with the privileges we have been given.
Through the Eyes of a Red Cross Family
by Rachel LaBrunda
My mom is a wonderful woman who works for the American Red Cross. With all of the shelters up due to the dreadful storm, Hurricane Sandy, I was able to visit them while my mom worked at the shelters. I visited a total of four shelters which contained people who lost their homes, peoples who lost their power and many animals. I felt a variety of emotions as I walked through the shelters and talked to the people staying there. The little kids ran around and continued to have fun, but acted as if nothing bad had happened. Some people looked helpless, joyous, or upset.
I really love animals, so I did what I could to keep them occupied. I could tell that the animals were upset because they were isolated from their owners and were locked up in cages. The joy I brought to those animals made me feel delighted. My mom has made me realize that bringing happiness to those depressed is a really great feeling. Visiting the shelters available to those without homes, power, or hot water made me realize that you should never take anything for granted.
The Friday night that I got power back, I didn’t react like others had. I witnessed people flicking all of their lights, honking their horns, and jumping for joy. What I did was turned on one light and laid in bed. I instantly began to think about all of the people without homes. A rush of anguish ran through my body.
Never, ever take ANYTHING for granted!
Silent Panic from the Jersey Shore
by James Vilardo
This hurricane really brings down the mood. My whole neighborhood is destroyed. I thought, I’ve never seen the Jersey Shore this pathetic, so miserable as a whole. I’m flustered at the thought that last week, well yesterday, everything was normal. The old man next door–his house was still on its foundation. The newlyweds across the street were still moving in. Now, boxes are all over the place with trinkets and pictures that should have filled the house.
I’m writing this journal from my room. This room is only half a room. The other half is outside in the road. Sooner or later we’re going to have to leave. Head for the shelters, where there are thousands of uneasy people; still angered by Mother Nature for taking everything she owns.
There are two types of people in the shelters right now. The long timers: the people who lost their homes, the people who might be there for months. Then there are the part-timers: the people who only lost power, have no running water, no cable. The only difference between the long timers and the part timers is that the part timers still have a roof on their house. They still have a “safe” place to call “home.”
My family will eventually be a long timer. Who knows when the next day I have will be a “normal” day. Who knows when I will go back to school? Or even if that school is still up. I wonder how the rest of New Jersey is. Is it full of life and not devastated? Or is it a ghost town like here? I might not know these answers for weeks, since I have no internet or cable. I have to make my phone battery last too. Well, my dad’s knocking on my door. Heading to the shelters, to get out of this devastation I still call home.
I Am Sandy
by Riley Dixon
Hello my dearest victim! I am Sandy! Maybe you’ve heard of me? I was born and raised out in the depths of the large Atlantic Ocean, some 30 days ago. I came to the East Coast of the gorgeous United States in search for a thrill, a change; just something new and helpless! So I decided to pay you a visit.
I was extremely flustered by all the coasts I had the option of visiting. I stayed on the outskirts of the seaside as I traveled north. I stayed far enough away to only send rain to the places I didn’t end up porting at all. Then, I saw New Jersey; lit up at all angles, ports and boardwalks teasing me, and the innocence was tantalizing. Why would I pass up such an inviting invitation for destruction?
What a rush! Although, I could’ve been worse or went harder, I crashed into the sea shore like never before! I sent bursts of energy into the ocean, resulting in waves ten feet high and pushing the water from the ocean to meet the bay. I roared and sent wind gust after wind gust! I raged like a teenage girl who had just gotten broken up with! This was fantastic and such a relief; a relief to have finally gotten such rotten energy off of my shoulders!
But don’t worry, I’m not done! As I traveled inland, I saw that not much was going on. You thought there’d only be rain? Are you kidding me? When I got to the lake, I used the water to gain energy. And then, I blew. I sent forceful puffs of wind, knocking down any obstacles that were in my way. I saw trees all over the ground and people everywhere. My thoughts on my destruction are accomplished. That’s why I left when I did.
I gathered all of my belongings and headed back to the ocean! My job was done! It was such a relief to have such excitement. And I hope you all keep one thing in mind: I could’ve and I know other “friends” that could’ve done worse. I am very pleased with my work!
I write you this, humans, as a reminder that the dearest Mother Nature is still watching! She still sees everything. She confided in me doing this destruction and paying you this visit. She wanted you to know that every though it has been a hundred years since something like me has hit the East Coast, that anything is possible and that we all still share this beautiful Earth with you. You aren’t the only ones humans, never forget.
by Kiersten Chesonis
Here and there I hear this name,
so quickly it was brought to fame.
The whispers about her made me alarmed.
Little did I know she’d leave me disarmed.
As I look around there’s an emptiness I see.
The shelves, the stores are clean as can be,
there is a certain despair I see in these faces.
They’re running about from the places.
A cold wind, I feel, against my cheek,
And in a minute the wind fell weak.
Underestimate, I did
because the wind picked me up like
Could this be her? I thought to myself.
The way she threw me damaged my health.
And with the blink of an eye, I was up in her arms.
Believe me I was not charmed,
no longer did she whisper in my ear.
It turned into screams that will forever leer.
Who is she? I thought again.
To be able to push me through this rain.
Does she want me to die?
Was she made to kill?
Was she sick in the head?
Was she ill?
All around me were scattered persons.
A few that were even cursing
to seek shelter would be great.
Then I could no longer feel her weight.
Two steps away, I see a shack.
I stepped inside, and immediately she attacked.
From the window, I saw it all,
the winds, the terror, here rise and fall.
Trees were grabbed from the ground
and were thrown all around.
I guess she figured these were her toys.
It seemed as though it brought her joy.
by Dan Meusel
On the tarmac
there it lay
waiting to roll
into the unknown.
On everyone’s mind
at the same time
unworthy to be brought up
but little do we know
we are inferior
in the marvelous eyes
of Mother Nature herself.
She is gloomy.
Must have been
a bad day,
yet here we sit,
warm and toasty
ham and cheese
and ginger ale,
the annoying baby
in the rear
of this enormous 747.
Here we go
like every other day’s
Starting to taxi
we pick up speed
25, 30, 40
60, 80, 100
150, 175, 200, and we are airborne.
God, I love flying
like the bird, I am
Babies are screaming
at the tops of their lungs,
ears popping, pacifiers being shoved
as we enter the dark
that we do not know
“Just a little turbulence”
as the polite young lady
follows procedure, her calming voice
“Seatbelts fastened, lunch trays
in the upright position.”
Looking at our neighbors
perplexed, the awkward heavy fellow
sound asleep, while others
minds racing, sounds changing.
We tip, we bounce, we sway
another seatbelt warning issue
more stubborn than others
we do not notice
here we come, 10,000 feet
more violent by the second
by Kelly Nolte
I have never been one to sit home all day. I enjoy going out with friends and spending my day with them. It took a devastating hurricane to bring my family closer together. When the power first went out, I didn’t think much of it. Then hours turned into days without power. My house became as cold as it was outside. Having two little brothers under the age of five; they became sick quickly in these conditions. When the sun went down, they had to be entertained. We all had to sleep in the same room to keep warm. We all had to do different things to keep them from crying. Someone would play with them while I looked for any remaining food.
During the storm, my mother was stricken with fear. She made us all stay in a room with no windows and every now and then she would check outside. One by one we heard the neighbor’s trees fall in the middle of the night. We had to scurry around the house to get things done during the light hours. When our house became too cold, my mom had no choice but to take all five of her children, including me, and flee from the house. There was nowhere to go and it was the middle of the night.
All of the hotels were either booked or without power. We then came to the high school where the Red Cross had set up a shelter. She cried, feeling helpless. As a mother she felt the need to be able to provide for her children, and when we left, she broke down. She had a look on her face as if she had failed at her job as a mother. I, being the oldest, had to step up. I had to comfort my mom to assure her this was only temporary. I had to help my family around the high school. There we met many families from all different areas. My mom met an elderly couple from South Jersey who had lost everything. It seemed incredible how a town could come so close together when there were people who needed help.
There were boxes and boxes of donations at the high school. It was amazing to see how kind people were in this time of need. Through those struggling days, I became closer to my family, and I realized what it meant to be a loving family, there for one another.
And All These Little Things
by Ryan Wilson
“….And all these little things.” This song came out a day before the hurricane came and took away my connection to the outside world. Frustration, cheated, rattled: all of these words could describe my feelings as the rest of the world could listen to the new One Direction album before I could. Now looking back, I cannot believe how petty I really was. Sure, I wasn’t listening to Take Me Home like most other teenage girls and I didn’t have Wi-Fi or television, but I had my home, my friends, and my family. They were all safe. Honestly, hearing these stories of woe made me sick to my stomach at how (for lack of a more appropriate word) bratty I sounded.
In this day and age, concert tickets and all these social networking sites hold priority over shelter and warmth, it’s sad. I experienced an ice cold shower and realized some people have to take them every single day. While only hot water and power were taken away, some lost everything. I feel ashamed at how ungrateful I truly was. But in humanity, you find that a lot, self pity. Sometimes hurricanes like this teach us something really important: it really isn’t all about ourselves.
Something that hits really close to home for me is the devastation found down the shore. People lost their homes and there is a roller coaster in the ocean. But the thing about that is, it takes us back to the beginning and brings us together. This kind of disaster pushes us to survive, to push back against everything that ails us. We will rebuild and start over because that’s what we are taught since we were able to walk: that once you fall, you better stand straight back up and overcome the difficulties that come your way. There is no other way to survive.
I came across this sign on Flora Avenue. It simply said, “Hopatcong will survive.” Sure the sign won’t be there in a couple of weeks, but every time I drive by, I will remember that there are bigger things than myself. You see, right now, I think we needed a reality check, something or someone to say, “Hey, you need to get your priorities in order.” So, we really need to remember “all these little things” don’t matter. We face difficulties in our lives, but we will always have the important things like family and friends.