Sandy Survivor Profile “Never be afraid to fall apart because it is an opportunity to rebuild yourself the way you wish you had been all along. ” ~Al Greene The purpose of my interview is to get to hear the untold stories of the victims of hurricane sandy. Media doesn’t tell the stories that need to be heard. These stories can affect everyone’s hearts and bring a different way of viewing others situations. I have interviewed my neighbor’s cousin; her name is Sophia and she lived in Keyport, NJ. She has been married for 6 years and has two children.
The household size is 5, including a senior citizen who is 64 years old. She lived in Keyport, NJ where she was living in a private house on rent. They were about to move out in two weeks because they were having a deal through some real estate agents about buying their own house. When I asked her about FEMA, she shrugged her shoulders with disappointment and said that they put her name in a waiting list since she wasn’t the only one who was affected by the storm. FEMA sent people out to check homes and made a file of every person who owned the house, there was no involvement for the tenants at all.
They paid her $500 for interior damage which was actually worth more than $5500. Sophia was 9 months pregnant and she was due on the 30th right after the storm struck. During Hurricane Irene she resided here in Brooklyn near Coney Island Hospital and she as many of us thought, took the storm very minor. The morning the hurricane struck, she was with her son and mother-in-law. The city officials told everyone to evacuate, but she had no place to go and the local shelters were packed. Her husband is a doctor, and he had to stay at the hospital, so she was in touch with him via phone. It all got very serious when I saw water on my block. I was scared because I see all my neighbors leaving and packing their cars with food and clothing. ” She decided to stay home. One of her neighbor didn’t leave and since the water started coming in her basement she came over at Sophia’s house. It wasn’t a daily routine for her as she recalled, she was making sure she had enough food supplies and her mother-in-laws medication because her mother-in-law has diabetes. They all sat on the couches while they heard gushing winds and water storming on to the street.
Her neighbor saw the water coming in from the front door and that’s when they all took action and transferred everything on to the second floor. She says she was glad to have her neighbor with their three teenage boys who helped to lift up the stuff. That night was a nightmare, they couldn’t sleep at all. They were too afraid to close their eyes, because the water was rising every minute. The power went off and luckily she had flash lights and candles. They used the radio and on the news they were saying that if you call the police, there will be no help for you at all.
It meant that they were disabling all the emergency stations, due to the storm. The storm was already too much to be handled, and then Sophia’s water bag broke. She started having sharp pains which became unbearable as every second passed. At that moment everyone started to panic because now the police won’t even help. Her neighbor was a RN, so she and Sophia’s mother-in-law decided to perform regular delivery at home. Her first child was born from a C-section and they were afraid about it this time. Her neighbor and her mother-in-law decided to take action as they knew time was ticking.
They took her in a separate room and that’s where she gave birth, without medications, without oxygen, without anesthesia, without her husband. She had tears while telling me this part, “I actually thought I was going to die, my body was torn and I was helpless. ” But she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl weighing about 5lbs, and named her after her neighbor Sarah. After the storm, Sophia has been pretty depressed because of the respond from the local officials. As soon as the water level came down, she said the crime rate went up.
She heard people breaking in through windows and taking stuff out, or whatever were the leftovers of the property. When the Red-cross and other organizations came in to give food and water and some city blankets, it wasn’t organized at all. People were running around with boxes and pushing one another. She couldn’t even get out of her bed. Sara’s husband and her three boys went to get some water and food, while Sarah stayed with Sophia and her little daughter. When they returned with some water and little bit of food, they were sad because the trucks were two blocks down of where they resided.
The house was freezing, and they were desperately in need for sunlight. “Even after the storm left, it still felt like we were still in the phase of passing the storm. ” Sophia says she has never been a victim of a natural disaster before, she always saw the devastation on the news. This was the first time she was an actual victim of a disaster. She didn’t want to be much specified about her neighborhood, the information I have received from her was that she lived in a very residential neighborhood, but a couple of blocks down was the boardwalk and a dock for the small vessels.
On the other side of her area there were McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, and some other commercial stores etc. She was in the evacuation zone, and Governor Chris Christie was announcing that we were in a state of emergency. She didn’t take it as serious as some people in her neighborhood took. Like she said earlier, she was residing in Brooklyn when hurricane Irene took place, everyone panicked but nothing happened. She had the same mentality of what we all had here in Brooklyn, that Sandy will be a joke just like Irene. Sophia says, “Media did its job, it’s just that I guess this time we all took it for granted.
When the news channel keeps giving you updates about a storm without commercial breaks, you should know you’re in deep trouble and we should immediately take action. ” When she heard about hurricane coming to NJ, she knew she lives near the water, but she didn’t really took it as serious as she was told to do so. She went to BJ’s and it was packed, it seemed as if black Friday came before timing, that’s how packed it was. She got some basic supplies like food and water and stocked it up but it wasn’t enough. She said she brought food and water that she could carry. When Sarah moved in with Sophia, she brought in a lot of food and water.
Sarah was well-prepared on that point. The involvement of the city officials was through the media, but they were just informing them that schools and public places will close and people in the evacuation zones should find local shelters or head out to their relatives or family members. Since they had no one in the surrounding states and the shelter house was occupied they decided to stay home. Sophia didn’t took the storm seriously because she thought this was just another way of making money by sending people out from their houses to buy a lot of supplies, like it happened during Hurricane Irene.
Their area was affected deeply. There was a family diner 5-6 blocks away from her area and that collapsed. Two houses that were located right next to the Keyport dock were completely under water. She said “Thank God, we live on a higher steep location or else God knows what would’ve happened. ” Trees and branches were all over the place, cars were in horrible condition, after the water went away there was a very thick muddy residue left. They are still trying to get rid of that, but they will have to change all the pipe lines which will take months for repairing it.
In some areas they had to pump out the water with the motor machines because it was like a cup shaped area. According to Sophia, she thinks that they should have had more media coverage not outdoors but indoor, which would make us think that ok so it’s pretty bad. Also they should’ve showed us the locations that have been affected already so that we could know the severity. Visual aid is necessary than verbal. Therefore, they stayed in their house with all the basic supplies all stocked up. Interestingly, there was law enforcement in that area but only on the two-three blocks radar near the water.
Once the power went out, there was no one at all. We were all on our own. The law enforcement was there before the storm but as soon as the storm was about to hit NJ, they left. They just vanished in the air, no siren were on when they left in their vehicles. Sophia has a 4 year old boy, named Karl, and he was very upset the whole time, it was hard for Sarah’s husband to take care of him when Sophia was screaming to give breath to another life. Karl is four years old but an autistic child, when he doesn’t see Sophia around he starts crying and throws himself on the floor. So no matter what you do to Karl, he wasn’t going to stop.
Sophia was very thankful to have her neighbors because if it weren’t for them, she wouldn’t be even alive at this point. It took the city officials to provide her neighborhood with food, water and blankets after 24 hours of Sandy hitting their area. It was unevenly distributed because the trucks came down two blocks and stayed there. It was more like a “self service, or help yourself” kind of thing. During the interview she kept thanking Sarah for her support. Because Sarah brought stuff from her house that she was needed as basic food supplies, but we got short on water.
When Sarah sent her husband and kids to get the supplies, it was a mess. Not organized it was pretty horrible, and they don’t blame the people for that. They blame the city officials. My basement is in horrible shape, the house stinks like rotten eggs. Everything is destroyed. The most challenging part is to get our thoughts together. Psychologically and physically the hurricane has struck us. But she says, “I’m a very positive person, my neighbors to whom I’ve said good morning, good evening and good night, were there for me through the thickest times. They are still recovering from the damage, but God knows how long it will take to recover back to the normal life they were living. Sophia is currently struggling with housing management. As she recalled earlier they were going to buy a house somewhere in Carteret, NJ. Now everything has been delayed and she is currently residing with her cousin here in Bay Ridge. After watching the news, she hugged everyone and thanked God that her children and neighbors were safe. Since they didn’t leave their house for a long time, they weren’t aware of the involvement from the city/state/federal Government.
They knew local organizations were the first ones to stand up, and the later on Red-Cross and FEMA, and other Governmental ORG’s stood up. They came and provided the food/water and blankets, whereas Red-Cross brought some clothing and medicines such as Motrin, Ibuprofen and so on. People from FEMA came and checked out some houses that were destroyed. What amazed Sophie was the fact that FEMA is “lending” money, not giving financial stability. They are only helping people finance the ones that have full insurance coverage. It was devastating to get this response from them, everyone in the neighborhood were very disappointed.
Sophia couldn’t help because she had a lot of blood lost and she was on the bed the entire time. They didn’t come up on their expectations. First time NYC and NJ got hit hard and the officials weren’t here? She was very upset and overwhelmed on this topic. She says, everyone was looking in the sky for it to rain, to get drops of water, but it was when we looked down at one another and by holding hands we have great fully, be there for one another. Personally Sophia lost a lot but in return she got a beautiful healthy baby angel lying in her arms. She says she is thankful to her neighbors for being here for her through her thickest times. Financially nothing happened because she doesn’t work and her husband was working the whole time during the storm because they were evacuating patients from NYU, Bellevue and other hospitals. So he was working the whole time. Her son was going for behavior treatments but those were delayed, he didn’t go to school, so that didn’t affect. She had property damage, but she kept being thankful. She said she didn’t lost anything, she gave birth to an angel, made strong bonds with her neighbors, and she knew her husband was safe.
However she was sad that she lost pictures of Karl when he was born because those were in the basement. “You get something, you lose something. Its part of life just be thankful for what you have. ” Two days after giving birth to Sarah, Sophia was rescued by the EMT people who work in the same hospital where her husband was working at. They took care of her immediately and Sarah was put into an incubator for 3 days. Now she is living in Bay Ridge while her husband is still working over there. She was very depressed by the involvement of the local officials.
The whole community came out to help one another but the local officials were the ones that came in the end. They denied their communities expectation levels. Now she is planning to settle somewhere in Queens, but she isn’t sure about that yet. The experience of this storm has changed Sophia’s life in many ways; she has build stronger relationships with Sarah. However, it will take time for her to return in her normal daily routine. She had to give birth to Sarah at home, and the pain was so intensive that she had planned mentality that she was going to die.
Sophia says, “The government wasn’t there for me especially in a time period like this when a women is really in need of great help. ” She is not living like she used to but things will settle down as time passes. She also told me, “Life is very different, because I get to see my husband twice a week; I am living in a neighborhood that I am not very familiar of. Everything is different I don’t wake up and open my eyes in my bed. ” She hasn’t returned back to her community so she doesn’t know what’s going on over there. Sophia says, “The way the community ORG’s were involved I’m pretty sure they are all making a safe road to recovery. After all that she has gone though, she doesn’t want to go back to her community because she was shocked by the involvement from the local officials. For the future she will take the news very seriously, regardless of Irene clashes. She laughed and said, “I’ll make sure I am not pregnant and if I am, I’ll stay in the hospital. ” She also said she will always have emergency items in her house, regardless of the seasons and weathers, “just in case you never know what might happen. We shouldn’t trust mother nature and her natural disasters. ”