Words cannot express how truly grateful we are for your support. Two and a half months have passed since we lost our home to Hurricane Sandy on Rockaway Beach, Queens, NY. We were fortunate enough to find residency here in Brooklyn, a furnished sublet close to my husbands’ employment, although our rent has almost doubled in price since we have evacuated, which has been a hardship financially.
We were located on Beach 102nd street, on the ground floor in a two bedroom apartment. 12-14 feet of water came rushing down our street with 200 feet chunks of boardwalk debris and dozens of floating automobiles. The ocean water met the bay water, and unfortunately, the water rushed in our apartment with all our possessions (except our instruments, including our piano which we moved out the day before) inside. Luckily, we evacuated the night before to Brooklyn, where restaurant owner and friend, Andrew Wandzilak took my family of four in during the storm.
It really didn’t sink in until we started seeing the news reports the day after the storm. See, we were comfortable with heat, comfort, and electricity in Brooklyn. We watched our only reference point during the storm, a lone tree swinging violently on the sidewalk. The day after, I recollect hearing CNN news announce that all bridges to Rockaway peninsula were closed and there was no entering. My husband and our friend, Andrew entered the peninsula after the second day. Needless to say, report from them was bleak. Andrew called it a “war-zone” and my husband didn’t say much at all, and if you know my husband, Jarad , he is an outspoken character. I didn’t go in until the third day after the storm. When we crossed the Marine Parkway Bridge to Riis Park, I couldn’t even believe what I saw. This was my first true experience dealing with “trauma.” My trauma came like so many others who lost so much after this storm; it came with tears, and many of them.
Four days later, we called every rental truck company in 4 states requesting for a rental so we could remove what we could from our apartment. We had no luck reserving a vehicle of any kind. If it were not for our friends, we would have lost EVERYTHING. Another restaurant owner, Wade Hoegardot, of Prospect Park Beer Works donated his beer truck along with himself to help us salvage what we could from our home. Luckily, we were able to save some things. I am truly thankful to the crew of selfless individuals who came to our aid. I had a rough go of throwing out all of my children’s furniture, our couches, bed mattresses, books, pictures, and toys to the curb. It was really painful, but I gained a lot of perspective through all of this. I have renewed faith in the human spirit. You see, I love people more than I thought I ever could. I know that if tables were turned, I would do the same for others, especially having experienced this myself.
And that is what we started doing: helping. My friend, Andrew, who took us in during the storm saw the devastation and just started cooking. He opened his restaurant earlier on November 1st 2012 and set up a soup kitchen with volunteers ready to cook and distribute hot food outside of his Park Slope restaurant, Two Boots of Brooklyn. Mind you, the donations didn’t even come yet! Andrew Wandzilak is a catalyst for us all who want to live a fulfilling life, a true person, not looking for reward or merit, just a man who wanted to help people. You know the statement, “If you lead, people will follow;” Andrew set the tone in this neighborhood and the outpouring of donations flowed like water. We delivered fresh hot food and supplies to the heaviest hit area in all the five boroughs: Staten Island, Rockaways, Brooklyn, and the displaced folks in hotels in Manhattan. Even now, after two and a half months after Sandy, he is still at it. This organization is called, Hurricane Sandy Relief Kitchen.
Lastly, I have to commend the Irish community, organizations, and the groves of musicians who came to the aid of so many hit by this wretched storm. Personally, I would like to thank the Brothers of Erin, based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, The Boulder Irish Session, The New York Irish Center, Jami Lunde, The Chiff and Fipple Irish Music Forum, Bernard Keilty, Mike Enright, Maureen Donachie, Cathy Hornberger, Paul Finnegan, The New York Post, The Aisling Center, The Irish Voice, John Whelan, and many more who continue to help my family during this difficult time. Some of you helped us financially, while others offered a helping hand, or gave us encouraging words. We are forever grateful to you all. Bless you.