Due to Hurricane Sandy many people lost their homes and belongings, were seriously injured, and even lost loved ones. One survivor of the storm shares the shocking details of the disaster, and how the storm ultimately reminded her of the love she has for her home state, and her appreciation for everyone who came together to get through such a devastation.
Elsie Vieira, a senior MPA major, recently visited her hometown of Brooklyn, to celebrate her dad’s 60th birthday. Little did Vieira know, her trip would become a tale of survival, living through one of the worst natural disasters, in U.S. history, Hurricane Sandy.
When Vieira first heard about the incoming storm, the storm itself was not her main concern.
“I was more worried about getting a flight and making it back to school in time for classes,” Vieira said.
She decided to travel to the airport in an attempt to make it to St. Louis before the storm hit. However, when she arrived she was informed that her flight was sold out. The airport offered Vieira a stand-by ticket where she would be able to stay at the airport and be offered the first seat available on the next flight, which wouldn’t be until at least 7:30 p.m.
She realized that wasn’t the best idea.
“I was just thinking, what if I don’t get the flight? Then I’ll be stuck at the airport with no possibility of getting a taxi back to Brooklyn. So I decided to head back to the apartment with my family,” Vieira said.
Once Vieira arrived back in Brooklyn they started preparing for the storm.
“We weren’t too worried, but we did make sure we had food and water for a couple days. Besides that and tying down our trashcans outside, we just sat and waited (for the storm),” Vieira said.
Fortunately her family’s apartment was located on a hill and was not hit as hard as many other areas in New York. However, Vieira and her family still heard the frightening gusts of wind, crackling of falling trees, and a downpour.
Immediately following the storm, the damage was seen everywhere. Vieira said she took notice of fallen trees, shattered windows and damaged buildings.
One of the most shocking things she saw was large boats that had impaled through apartments and houses.
“I even ran across many people that were out searching for their cars that had floated away in the flood,” Vieira said.
Vieira spent four days in New York after the storm, taking it all in and helping those in need, before returning to St. Louis. One of Vieira’s family friends lived in a basement apartment that had been completely flooded with more than 3 feet of water.
Vieira and her family immediately lended a hand and helped the friend gather personal belongings and save anything that was still usable.
Vieira said that on the third day after the storm she and her family couldn’t even get a coffee or bite to eat because the city was completely over-crowded and busier than she ever imagined it could be.
“I know you’re thinking New York is always busy, but this was something completely different. People couldn’t move. It was like everyone in New York had finally crawled out of their holes,” she said
After the devastation, Vieira reflected on her love and appreciation of her home state.
“It’s interesting that the rest of the world can see us (New Yorkers), and stereotype us as cold and stand-offish. But that’s not true at all, especially in times of crisis. We all come together, support each other, and lend a hand anywhere necessary,” Vieira said, “It relates to 9/11, when we all did everything in our power to support each other. That is just New York’s culture, we’re there for one another.”