The most stunning image I saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was a YouTube video of a huge carp hanging from a pole in the parking lot of the Woodmere Middle School on Peninsula Boulevard. The carp came in with the tides from the canals that flooded school property.
By last Thursday morning, the parking lot was drying out and the school was open and available for people who needed hot showers. Which sounds more bizarre, folks taking showers at the school or 10-pound fish swimming through the parking lot?
I was able to access YouTube because I wasn’t directly caught up in the storm. I was in Florida, dealing with storm damage to our condo from this summer’s torrential rain on the Gulf Coast. Same theme; different location.
Still, my heart and thoughts were in New York, where my sister stayed in my Long Island home through the storm. For a day and a half we couldn’t make contact, but then the power came back on and she called. Everything was fine. The house wasn’t damaged. We’re just blocks from Woodmere Bay and the Woodmere Docks, where the devastation was catastrophic, so we were very lucky. My husband and I made our way home as soon as we could.
In the days after the storm, my home became a shelter for friends and family who needed a hot shower or a dry bed for a night or two. In the blustery cold, we had heat. One friend who was without heat asked to bring her tortoise, Buddy, who’s sensitive to cold. Since we had power, people charged their phones and reached out to reassure their loved ones. All around the community, neighbors were trying to dry out basements and remove debris from backyards. Boats were stranded on lawns and walkways all around the Woodmere Docks.
Another video showed water sweeping over the docks, even two days after the storm passed. Those docks have history, going back to bootlegger days and World War II civilian watch patrols. In my time, there was a dock house and rowboats that we could rent for an hour of fishing. When I was in high school, the docks were the designated lovers’ lane for kids who had cars. Local police and our parents closed one eye to the heavy breathing and took comfort in the fact that they knew where we were.