Yesterday afternoon, the streets in my neighborhood of Jackson Heights were dark and the wind was picking up. I did not step outside my home in at all the entire day. I stayed in my room and had my laptop and phone plugged in at all times, so that when I lost power I would be ready to tackle the storm and stay connected.
Back in 2004, I was at summer home in Florida when Hurricane Charley hit as a Category Four storm. I survived it by sitting in a closet with my family just waiting for everything to pass as we listened to the radio. Just a few shingles fell off the roof of the house, so damage was not that bad. Just as much minimal damage was experienced in my second hurricane battle. I am very fortunate about that.
One of the main differences in my second natural disaster experience, aside from being older, was the way that I received updates throughout the storm. Back in 2004, I was reliant on the radio and when the batteries or signal gave out, I had no idea what was going on. In 2012, Twitter was my main connection as I was able to get updates from multiple media outlets at one.
My friend, Brian Mastro, is a sophomore meteorology major at Pennsylvania State University. He's a Mets fan, but I follow him for his funny overreactions in baseball. I was fortunate to have him on my timeline on Monday night as he updated his feed every few minutes with news about the rising water levels, transportation closures and photos.
I could not watch the news as the storm was going on. The images were just too graphic for me knowing so many of these places I am familiar with were getting hit hard. My thoughts and prayers went out to my friends with families and homes in Rockaway, N.Y. The neighborhood is right on the beach and just about 25 minutes away by car. A fire in Breezy Point destroyed 80 homes. My friend, Billy Dunn, evacuated his home, but has no idea what is left of it since a fire broke out on 130th street, a block away from his home. I was able to get in contact with my friend Jimmy Buckley, also from that neighborhood, who decided to stay at home and try to fight the storm.
I contacted all my professors and will be staying productive throughout the week from New York. I will be a member of the media at the New York City Marathon press conference on Wednesday, as I drive into Manhattan for the first time since Sandy struck. The marathon still took place after 9/11, but this time New York Road Runners is dealing with a crisis in a matter of days. Lots of questions will be asked. It could a miracle for this race go off as planned.
Many thanks to everyone back at Marquette University for reaching out to me for updates on my safety and how things were looking from my perspective. Say a prayer for those in places hit hard like Rockaway and Breezy Point. New York rebounded after 9/11 and with thoughts from everyone, it can be back to where it was before Sandy.