J-14's teen guest blogger Alexis Joy shares her terrifying Hurricane Sandy experience...
I live in Long Beach, NJ -- one of the most hit areas during Hurricane Sandy. When I first heard that the storm would be coming, the idea of getting another hurricane which was supposed to be even worse than last year's Hurricane Irene really was astonishing for me and so frightening. But my fear had just begun.
We lost power at about 5:30 PM on Monday, October 28. Right away, my mom and I lit two candles; we were trying to conserve the candles for future days without power. The hurricane really started to hit us badly at about 6:00 p.m. My house was shaking tremendously due to the heavy winds, as if there was an earthquake occurring at the same time. The wind was so loud and in my room all I could hear was the whistling of the wind up against my window. The scariest part of the night was the extreme flooding. My mom and I looked out our window and all we could see were the waves rushing in. It was the most terrifying sight!
Fortunately we were up pretty high, but all we could see below looking out the window was water increasing in height. Overall, we probably had about seven feet of flooding. Because of the high tide, the flooding was higher and surging in faster. At that point, I was thinking, "What would happen if the water came up even higher to where my mom and I were?" Needless to say, I didn't get any sleep that night between the shaking of the house, whistling of the wind, and the thoughts of survival in my head.
The next day, Tuesday, I was ecstatic and so grateful that my mom and I had survived. But the nightmare wasn't over yet. The hurricane had left my town with no electricity, no water, and no sewage. The streets were filled with oil and garbage all over. By then, thankfully, the water had receeded; but it left an overwhelming amount of destruction to my basement. All my pictures/ memories from when I was a newborn to ten years old were all gone. Both of our cars were ruined, and when my mom opened the car, water was even inside it. We had to evacuate because my town was declared a town in devastation and was not livable.
There was absolutely no phone or internet reception, so we couldn't get in touch with anybody to help us get out of our home. I was beyond terrified at that point thinking we were stranded there -- until one of our gracious and very simpathetic neighbors offered us a ride seeing our desperation. We right away took the offer, since that was our only hope. It was a miracle and we were so beyond grateful for our neighbors who were our saviors.
My mom and I were inside the car with nothing else but ourselves -- none of our belongings -- all we wanted to do was leave the town and seek a safe, livable shelter, which in this case was my grandparents' home. It was night and there were no working street lights. As we were driving past a town, we saw boats in the middle of the train station. With thanks to prayers and our wonderful neighbors, we got to my grandparents' house safly without any accidents. It was the biggest sigh of relief for my mom and me and the biggest load off our chests. All this, I thought to myself, in only about 24 hours.
Now we have been blessed to be staying at my grandparents' house. This past week, we've visited my town of Long Beach twice and it's so heartbreaking. Seeing signs that say "Be strong" and "Hope" as well as so many valuables being thrown out. Not to forget, Long Beach has a curfew from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. and checkpoints coming into the town on certain parkways to prevent looters. There are amazing and truly sympathetic national guards and army men in my town doing their very best to help distribute water and pre-packed meals. My school has been closed for almost two weeks and is closed until further notice.
Hurricane Sandy has been a total nightmare that I wish I could just wake up from; but despite all of this, I'm so blessed and grateful to be with my family and be safe. All I say to myself is "This too shall pass." The genuinely caring messages from friends who are basically family have helped me and my mom get by and be strong for the days to come. I'm so inspired by my mom who is doing everything in her power to get things back to normal.
For people who want to donate to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, info can be found from the Red Cross at www.redcross.org (@RedCross on Twitter and @Fema on Twitter). From coats to food, anything and everything will help!
J-14 Teen Guest Blogger
Photos: Courtesy of Alexis Joy