It’s been six months since Sandy hit Long Island and changed the lives of everyone on the South Shore. There are so many things that I remember from covering the storm and its aftermath, but the most vivid is from about a week after.
I was in Island Park on Nov. 8 for the first community meeting since the storm hit. Long Beach Road — Island Park’s main street — which is usually rather busy, was devoid of cars. Mine was the only one on the road. Looking back on it, I realize it was because no one else in the area had a working car.
I parked my car next to a waist-high pile of sogging garbage — the remains of someone’s business. I can’t remember which business it was. It was just one of many such piles.
The meeting was the first time that residents were getting any real information about the state of the community. The village and school district held a joint meeting at the Sacred Heart Parish Center, which, due to a rather large generator, was one of the very few buildings in Island Park with power.
The meeting itself wasn’t really what stuck with me about that day (although I do remember it well). By the time the meeting let out, it was already dark. As I walked back to my car, I saw many Island Park residents pull out flashlights for their walk home. It had been about a week since the storm, but the practice of bringing flashlights around if you were going to be out past dark was something that residents had already had down pat.
The streets were the darkest I’ve ever seen. I made my way north along Long Beach Road, heading to the Southern State Parkway. From Island Park all the way up through Oceanside, there was not one working light — traffic lights, street lights and buildings were all black. There were barely any cars on the road, and the only illumination came from headlights and the occasional generator-powered storefront. I drove for three miles up Long Beach Road before I finally came to a working light in the northern part of Oceanside.
Driving down that road was one of the most eerie experiences of my life. So many businesses and homes were darkened by the flooding. And for many, it would still be days or weeks before they got power back.