Hilary Grossman’s beach community was unrecognizable after Hurricane Sandy. As she continues to rebuild, she shares the lessons she learned about herself and her community along the way. #KatieGivesBack
Sandy proved to me that even though life may sometimes seem very bleak you can never give up hope. You may not realize how much support and generosity is out there until you need it. Today’s Katie showed me that people haven’t forgotten about those affected by Hurricane Sandy. There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing others care and sympathize with your plight. It seriously blows me away.
I am asked the same question over and over. “Everything is back to normal, right?” Just the way the question is phrased proves to me that people automatically assume that my answer will be yes. After all, almost two months have passed since Hurricane Sandy slammed the small Long Island beach community where I live. But life is not back to normal for me, for my family, my friends, or probably anyone who was victim to this horrific storm. And I don’t see it returning to normal anytime soon.
And you know what? Maybe I don’t want to return to normal.
Don’t get me wrong. I wish Hurricane Sandy never happened. I wish I could erase the images of my brother-in-law’s house, the home my husband and I evacuated to, flooding with two feet of water. I wish I never had to walk into my own home, the day after the storm, to find my den and basement filled with ocean water and my deck covered in tampon applicators and seaweed. I wish I didn’t have to spend weeks on end, in the cold and in the dark, as my basement ceiling collapsed on my head, carting out our destroyed belongings and tossing them to the curb. I wish I could be living in my home now instead of just existing there, as we try to repair and rebuild. I wish that I could walk through my beach community and see the beauty that once was, instead of the destruction that now is.
We all worked together as a team, sharing whatever we could, even if it was just a shoulder to cry on.
But I can’t. And it is sad and it is hard, but it is not all bad. Hurricane Sandy caused a lot of damage, but she also brought a lot of good. Individual lives stopped. Neighbors became one. We all worked together as a team, sharing whatever we could, even if it was just a shoulder to cry on.
Sandy taught me how compassionate people can be. I will never forget the first time I approached the bridge that leads to my house following the storm. In order to gain access, I had to show my driver’s license to a member of the National Guard. As he glanced at my address, his eyes clouded over, and he simply said, “I am sorry, I hope you have a better tomorrow.”
Sandy reminded me to appreciate the little things in life, things we can’t help but take for granted, like being able to sleep in your own bed or being able to take a hot shower any time you want. Despite the fact that I spent my days and nights cleaning, and was covered in dirt and grime, I couldn’t bear to take an ice cold shower in November, so I didn’t. When I finally showered, I sunk to the ground and cried.
Thanks to Sandy, I found an inner strength I didn’t realize I had within me. I learned that I don’t need worldly possessions to be happy; all I need is the love and support of my family and friends. Before Sandy, I “sweated the small stuff.” After Sandy, my priorities shifted. I now realize how precious life really is, and how we have to enjoy every moment we have, because we never know what tomorrow may bring.