I rarely talk about my personal life or things not directly related to writing fiction on this blog, but this is a special case. Like so many others in New York/New Jersey area, my family and I were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Our house is roughly fifteen minutes away (by foot) from the water (Sheepshead Bay) and twenty minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean. We are in “Zone B” (which means just far enough away where we didn’t have to evacuate). Compared to many of our friends we were very fortunate. Our car did not flood and a huge tree branch which came down within inches of my father-in-law’s car didn’t damage our property. We didn’t even lose power or Internet service. However, sometime after nine o’clock at night, water began to pump upward from the shower drain in the basement. It was coming up fast until the entire basement was flooded with nearly a foot of water. This was sea water which overwhelmed the city’s sewer system and was finding its way into many of the homes in our area.
A beach block in Rockaway. Sandy dragged so much mud and sand onto the street that it had to be cleared by plows.
I remember chatting with friends online about what was happening, helpless to do much of anything to prevent it. Water ceased rising around eleven and we went to sleep expecting to deal with a lot of misery in the morning. Fortunately, we woke up to find that the water receded almost completely on its own, leaving behind wet floors and destroying a refrigerator. We had to do some minor cleanup, but all in all we got off easy.
My stepfather was no so fortunate. His house is in Rockaway, Queens, half a block away from the beach. Water devastated his entire block, devastating the lower level of his home and destroying all the possessions there. He later found out that, although he was one of very few New Yorkers with flood insurance, that covers only the structural damage and the boiler, not any of the possessions. Everything he had in the basement had to be thrown out, carpets stripped, and Sheetrock walls demolished, then treated for mold. The entire area had no power for weeks. My mother-in-laws house was also damaged, forcing her to spend a lot of time and money renovating its first floor.
Water surge flooded most basements or even ground floors in Rockaway. The high-water line in this photo is at nearly six feet.
And despite all that, my family is still among the fortunate ones. We had the support structure, the money, and other resources to overcome this calamity. We did not go hungry or cold. Our own businesses and companies that employ us weren’t forced to close down permanently because of storm damage. But there are tens of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey who weren’t so fortunate. They need all the help they can get. And if you think that the devastation of Sandy is well behind us at this point, you’re wrong.
Chase Bank branch in Sheepshead Bay, still closed six weeks after Sandy.
I was in the area of the Sheepshead Bay train station earlier today. Many of the businesses (both small local ones and chain outlets like 7/11, Chase and Citibank) are still closed. There are traffic lights in my area that are still down — and we aren’t even in one of the neighborhoods worst-affected by this storm.
There are lots of worthy charities and ways to help. I recently discovered a charity anthology that is raising funds via IndieGoGo, with 100% of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. For only $7, you can help the victims of Hurricane Sandy and receive a short story collection with works by such notables as Robert Silverberg, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Timothy Zahn, Elizabeth Bear, and many others.
I donated to the cause as well as contributed a reprint short story, “The Last Incantation,” which can be currently read at Kazka Press web site. Although Kazka’s period of exclusivity on this story hasn’t expired yet, they generously allowed me to submit the story to the anthology once they learned about the cause.
“Triumph Over Tragedy” is a brainchild of speculative writer R.T. Kaelin who is investing a ton of his own time in order to put together, edit, and promote this project. You could thank him by heading over to his web site and ordering one or more of his books.
If you can spare $7 (or more) this holiday season, please order a copy of “Triumph Over Tragedy” here, and be sure to spread the word about this project.