On October 29, 2013, New York was hit by Hurricane Sandy, and nobody was less prepared for it than the residents of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn.
You see, they weren’t expecting to be affected, at all. Nobody left. Nobody prepared. They weren’t in Zone A, which is the zone required to evacuate, because they were behind two land masses — the Rockaways and the Belt Parkway.
But they were hit as hard as Breezy Point or South St, Seaport or The Rockaways. The force of the hurricane was no match for this small community, or this bar that was ripped from its foundations and delivered to the streets of Gerritsen Beach. For the past seven months a dedicated team from We Rebuild has been focusing on getting this community back on its feet. And that’s where I’m joining in.
We lost our apartment because of Sandy, too. Not our belongings, but our building was hit hard and for five months we moved between friends’ apartments and serviced apartments hoping to return to our home behind South St, Seaport. We gave up waiting after being told that it would take a lot longer than five months to rebuild the historic South St area. So we found a new apartment and moved in a couple of months ago. The joy I experienced waking up on that first day back in my own home, in my own bed, with all my belongings has not yet passed.
Home is not a house or a building but a place where you know where you stand.
I’m sorry to say I didn’t know about the disaster that struck Gerritsen Beach and its community in need, much like many don’t know South St Seaport is now a ghost town that has lost its community of 10,000 and hundreds of small businesses. The attention focused on the areas with the swathe of pictures — Breezy Point, The Rockways. So when Go Mighty was invited by Ladies Home Journal to join Meredith Publishing’s We Rebuild team to help build and garden and paint, on June 6, so this long-standing family of residents can get settled back in their homes, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.
A couple of weeks ago, with Isabel Kallman from Alpha Mom, who was invited by Parents Magazine and a number of other kind folks, we traveled out to meet the families we would be working alongside.
Lucky for me and for Gerritsen Beach, my son, Monte, who is 21 years old and can build/fix you anything, is visiting us from Australia with his girlfriend, Marta, so they and my husband, Rob, are all coming to help, too.
Gerritsen Beach, summer is going to sparkle.