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ExPat New Yorker View of Sandy

ExPat New Yorker View of Sandy

Once a New Yorker always a New Yorker is the motto and I do indeed feel I am still a New Yorker even though I now live in North Carolina. Watching the current state of affairs in New York on TV, it’s as if I’ve been punched in the stomach.   Now, 2 weeks after Hurricane Sandy washed ashore, I feel guilty for leaving my beloved home town of Huntington, New York for Raleigh, North Carolina. I’ve counted my blessings for moving out of New York numerous times yet at the same time, mourn for the depth of destruction that Sandy left.  I realize it sounds pretty callous for being relieved that we moved out of state this past July, but I am at this very moment. I’ve gotten constant validation of our decision, from friends and family, saying we should be thankful we didn’t have to experience the horror of Sandy through texts and emails.  Some are still suffering.  We left for a variety of reasons, most of which was a wonderful opportunity presented to my husband. This was one of those ‘too good to be true’ offers that comes around every once in a while.  It all sounds wonderful and my life has re-started in Raleigh and I’m trying to enjoy it until I see those images of Sandy’s wake.  I still have my moments of regret but in the last two weeks I can honestly say I am breathing a sigh of relief. When we left, I just assumed Huntington would remain the same until those horrific images appeared before my eyes through modern technology.  Now, when we return for Thanksgiving, all of my idyllic images of Huntington will not be the same.  From my understanding, my old neighborhood was hit pretty hard and now looks like a war zone.

I am a New Yorker through and through, and feel I should have been there, at the very least for friends and family. Yet, by being there, I would have subjected my immediate family to potential dangers that most of them had to endure. The survivor’s guilt that encompasses me is overwhelming and it certainly pales in comparison to those who actually experienced the loss and devastation.  We have heat, hot running water and power, all the things you take for granted!  I just wish that we were closer.  The helplessness of not being able to lend a hand coupled with constant relief is pulling me in different directions.  Living here in beautiful, picturesque Raleigh is a good thing, but not a day goes by that my mind doesn’t drift back to where I am from. The day the storm flew by our area, we barely saw a raindrop.  The Outer Banks were affected by Sandy with severe damages to people’s homes, businesses and roadways yet I feel so far removed from it – I have yet to establish a connection to this area like I have with New York City, Ocean Beach (Fire Island) and Huntington, New York – all the places that I hold near and dear to my heart.

With the assistance of CNN, MSNBC, ABC and countless other news stations including NY1 (I automatically get through Time Warner Cable) I was kept abreast of most things happening in the Tri-State area. Facebook, email and texts have also served as a lifeline to my friends and family as phone and cell phone service were spotty at best.  I welcomed any update that a friend or relative posted and neglected my family as I was glued to all news outlets.  The information overload as well as the ache that was growing in my stomach caused me to lose sleep at night, worry tremendously for my extended family and felt an overwhelming sense of remorse for not being there. I know my feelings are somewhat skewed because there is still a part of me that wishes this move never took place, yet am profoundly grateful that it did.

I just dropped off supplies at a local school that put together a drive to help New York and New Jersey students recoup some of the essentials (the supplies will be hand delivered by one of the school’s principals this weekend) and my donation to Red Cross just doesn’t seem to be enough.  I feel I owe it to New York to do more.  I have already informed my husband that I am planning a trip to New York to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or some other rebuilding effort so I can at least give back, just a little, to place that gave me so much and help out fellow New Yorkers.  My hope is that this area recovers, and bounces back to become better than it was before and if I know New York, like I think I do, it will.  Watch out New York, here I come with a hammer!

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