|Union City, N.J. at night, 10/30/12. Photo by Steven Estrada|
That's been my brother Steven's response to my asking him each day if he has electricity since Hurricane Sandy reached the shores of New Jersey Monday.
He lives in Union city, N.J., a short commute into New York City via the Holland Tunnel. His community is one of many across the tri-state area still reeling from the hurricane that really wasn't hyped after all. I know a lot about hurricanes as I've lived in South Florida for the past seven years.
I arrived a few months after the destructive Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004 while many areas were still in recovery. And, just in time to experience Hurricane Wilma in 2005, where I had to help my parents hold their front door closed for hours. They were prepared; doors and windows boarded and all. Wilma was just insistent to get in. Thankfully she didn't. It's almost as if hurricanes have their own agenda; selectively choosing areas in which to wreak havoc the most and areas to leave be.
I grew up in Freeport, Long Island, N.Y. living there for 26 years. Yes, I pronounce "mall" "mawl." I used to walk on the boardwalk in Long Beach with my friends, take frequent trips with my mom into Manhattan, or what Long Islanders always refer to as "The City," as that's where she worked, and frequent The Nautical Mile. So even though the effects of Hurricane Sandy damage in the northeast are hundreds of miles away from my physical location, it is definitely close to my heart.
I have family and friends who still live in Long Island and in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and New Jersey. It's surreal looking at photos posted on Facebook and Twitter of areas severely affected by Sandy. It’s devastating reading about the loss of life, and uplifting at the same time when reading about the courage of the first-responders.
It's times like these when technology, social media, etc. is at its best. If they're able to keep their smartphones charged, we can stay connected to the ones we love by not only hearing their voice, but seeing their circumstances. My brother sends me photos via his iPhone to show me what's going on in his neighborhood.
After such a tremendous storm, the hardest part is wanting desperately for life to return to normal, quickly. Having experienced living in the aftermath, I know that will take time and a whole lot of patience. The good thing is that many, even without power and being uncomfortable, understand this and are working together. What is a constant is a sense of hope.
Let's keep all those from the Caribbean to the East Coast of the U.S. affected by Sandy in our prayers.
Click here for info on Ways to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
UPDATE: As of 1 p.m. Nov. 4 power was restored in my brother's Union City, N.J. apartment. Tweet