It has been awhile since I posted. The main reason for that is because of the infamous hurricane Sandy that rocked the East Coast. My home was in a primary evacuation area that was hit pretty bad but alhamdoolilah Allah swt was watching out for my family and I.
Isn't it funny how life changes, from one moment to another. You never see it coming. The only way to prepare for something like that is to constantly remind yourself of your blessings when things are going well and then use those trying situations to remind yourself to be more appreciative. There was a time I developed an ulcer (my first in my life) a few months back. I was in so much pain I couldn't chew or swallow for several days. At the time I just remembered being so uncomfortable I could barely think straight. How many days had passed that I never even thought how lucky I was to have the most basic function of my mouth?
We were not prepared. We heard there was something coming. It came in two phone calls I think from my Sis's friend who lives just 6 minutes away from us in Far Rockaway. He talked about how he had lived here his whole life and whatever was coming was probably not a big deal. If you live on the East Coast in the US you probably once considered any news of incoming bad weather as "interesting news." It is always something to talk about, but never anything beyond that. But this time it was different.
The second phone call came to tell us to get some candles, maybe some water...they might shut it off. That was just a day or two before my Sis left to attend a bereavement as she had a loss in the family.
SUbhanallah the news came in time to pull her out of the state before it hit. The last thing she said to me was that if it seemed like it was getting worse to get sou sou and get the Hell out, go to Delaware.
I woke up Sunday morning wondering what I should do. I looked at Sultana and grew anxious. My phone hadn't worked in several days. There wasn't much food in the house and I had just put a down payment to stick her in day care the next day. I felt a strange calm and I started to panic. As soon as I finished a bath I turned on the TV. That is when I heard
"....subways will be shut down at 7pm. Yes. We are ordering a voluntary evacuation."
What if it were a different channel? What if I had missed those words to find a regular TV show? WHat if I didn't have internet access to get in touch with my friend R, who alhamdoolilah contacted a family member in Delaware for me? WHat if I used that time to put Sultana down for a nap like I normally did? What if I didn't have enough money for the ticket out of NY?
I turned off the TV and ran about the house. I took all the dishes, stacked them in the sink. Shut the windows. Threw an outfit for sou sou in a bag and took out some trash. WHen I walked outside I saw my neighbor.
He always greets me. In our conversation he mentioned he would take his family to the Bronx in a nonchalant way.
Let me take the time to say this, people in New York did not expect this. Most were born and raised in NY had nowhere else to go. My landlord's mother who lives right above us has lived in the Rockaways for over 40 years and of course shrugged it off.
I couldn't though, knowing I had Sultana. There were so many signs pushing me out of the house that day. I left to the subways, caught the bus in Penn Station alhmadoolilah and went straight to Delaware. As soon as I got off the bus, the sky was darkening, it started to rain and I heard the Greyhound station announce all buses to New York will be cancelled.
"The city is SHUT DOWN. NO ONE IS GETTTING IN OR OUT."
By the time I arrived safely to the house in Delaware, everyone back home along the beach were witnessing harsher weather. The next day, at the same time, the winds pushed the ocean over the sand, over the boardwalk and onto everyone's door steps. The boardwalk was pummeled, like a bomb dropped on it. A peace of it floated down the street and wedged my neighbors car along the sidewalk. My downstairs neighbor's house started filling with ocean water. He got upstairs before it filled to his roof. They watched the 4 feet of water rush down the street. Some houses got damaged, others were flooded out. Everyone lost power and heat and hot water.
I remember getting in touch with Sis who was kept from taking a flight, they shut down Philadelphia before she could board any plane. She told me right after I left they ordered a mandatory evacuation for the Rockaways.
Being in Northern Delaware meant we avoided the flood prone areas. Imagine, one by one...
New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey....Then southern Delaware.....skipping our section.
We got some heavy rain and were restricted from driving for several days.
When sis and I finally met up, we searched the state for gas cans. Because all the gas stations were electric (and the power went out) that meant no gas in New York.
We managed to get a gas can, plenty of canned food, water, and sou sou.
We drove into the Rockaways around 5 pm. There were national guard trucks, Aid trucks, police, and ambulances. My mouth literally hung open when I saw the damage around us. Trash piled everywhere, sand everywhere, cars everywhere, dirt, water damage and ppl bundled up carrying food and blankets to their homes like they were migrating. I ended up making eye contact with other drivers. Everyone's face was filled with awe and bewilderment. Like a scene from a movie this was real.
When we arrived home our neighbors helped us into the house. We lit candles and carried flashlights at all times. We were told the water just missed our level by two steps. ALl our food in the refrigerator had to be tossed.
The blackness fell and everyone watched everyone else walk by with a sense of suspicion. Some of the houses up the street were broken into. Someone was raped.
Don't go out at night.
Our neigbhorhood is filled with ppl who grew up together. Like a large unspoken family they all looked out for each other, paroling the night to ensure the safety of everyone else. Sis went to work the next day. We wrapped ourselves with blankets at night and lit candles, realizing how it felt to see darkness at 5 pm...how much it sucks to not have heat. It snowed a few days later. We discovered we could turn on the burners and kept them lit on low heat. It was the makeshift way of getting some heat in the house. We filled two large pots with water and boiled it. After some days the roof started to rain down on us from all the accumulated water vapor. We poured boiling water into the bath and washed ourselves with several inches before it became cold again. We made sure Sultana was out the house when we cleaned the fridge. We had to air out the house for the whole day to get rid of the smell.
By the end of the week we got electricity and now I am writing this post. We still don't have heat or hot water, but we hope we will soon. Some of us are so lucky. I am so lucky. The subway is shut down so I can't leave unless it is with the car with Sis. I have lots of pictures inshallah to show you but my camera cord got stopped in the post office. Allah swt guided my daughter and I out just in time. And like so many other times in my life He was protecting me and my loved ones when I had no idea...
Please say a prayer for all those still in shelters with no homes.
Please say a prayer for all those of us to get heat soon.
Please say a prayer for all those who passed.
Please say a blessing for all those volunteers who have come out and provided food, and aid to all those affected.
I will try to keep you guys posted on my area with more pictures inshallah.