Hurricane Sandy – One Family’s Story of Devastation

NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast on Monday, October 29 at 9:10 a.m. EDT (13:10 UTC). Sandy’s center was about 310 miles south-southeast of New York City. Tropical Storm force winds are about 1,000 miles in diameter. Image Credit: NASA GOES Project

Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, sheer devastation has ripped through the Northeast.  The death toll, so far, is over 100, 2.5 million people are without power, lack of access to fuel has worsened the crisis, and people are desperate.  There are untold stories of suffering taking place, and Gini has written to us with an example of the sort of overwhelming loss many people are experiencing.

From the Kanavy family in Seaford, New York,

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your concern.  Yes, we took a hard hit.  In the 65 years I’ve lived here I have never nor could have ever imagined the magnitude of a storm such as this.  Every year we watch while the Media Circus has their day in the sun over dramatizing every storm and crying wolf. I knew this storm was big, but much more than I could have ever imagined. I had heard stories about the Hurricane of 1938.  This storm seemed to equal that. I sent the kids and Grandchildren away.  John and I decided to stay and prepare right up to the last minute. Tricia and John’s new bride, Jessica, also stayed to weather out the storm.

We had 18 hours of 60-90 MPH winds.  The incoming tidal surge came fast and furious.  Our feeble efforts to thwart the force of Mother Nature were meet with unimaginable force.  First John’s apartment flooded.  We sat together in the living room as the ocean size waves slammed into the house filling the down stairs.  Furniture racked back and forth with each wave surge, slamming beds, couches, and dressers through walls and ceilings and windows.

We evacuated the second floor for the third floor bedrooms when a 40 foot floating dock smashed through my sheds and into and through the downstairs playroom doors. Ocean waves washed in and up the stairs to our second floor kitchen and living room.  I looked out the bedroom window as 6-8 ft rollers smashed into the house driving floating docks into the house like a battering ram.  The house shook like it was coming apart.  We heard buzzing and the fire alarms went off as a fire started in the electrical circuit box. The fire was put out by the surge of the waves: we saw an electrical line jumping around with flames coming off the end flying around just outside the living room window.

At this point we realized there was nothing to do but wait for the storm to end.  The pounding stopped around 5AM at “Low Tide”, which was higher than a high tide.  The water started to come back in.  The stench of fuel oil was everywhere as everyone’s fuel tanks rolled over and leaked a sheen of oil over everything.

Long story short we all made it out alive.  We have pretty much lost everything.  My parents’ house took it just as hard. Both houses are unlivable and will be for some time if not forever.

So thank you for your concern. It means a lot at times like these.  We survived and life goes on.

The Kanavy Family

You can help the many people, like the Kanavy family, suffering with the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy, by donating to the Salvation Army here, Catholic Charities here, or Samaritan’s Purse here.

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  • Thank you for sharing this personal and private story with us… may God bless you all and guide your path as you go about recovering your lives.

  • Robert

    I am reading that FEMA has run out of bottled water.

    This would be inexcusable and intolerable if a Republican was president.

    However, even then nobody would be fired.

  • Robert

    The point is that the federal government is worse than worthless as a disaster responder, and not even able to protect itself abroad. We have seen it time and time again, and all the hard work is done by the locals, while the government officials walk around patting themselves on the back.

  • Having survived a few hurricanes from Florida to Cape Ann in Massachusetts, I relived that devasatating loneliness/utter fragility one feels as the winds and water rise beyond one’s imagination…pounding water has a relentless that tunnels deep into one’s memory.

    My heart goes out to this family. And my thanks that they sent the children away. No child should have that kind of visceral knowledge…NY and NJ will suffer all the more for being urban and crowded. It is much harder to recover under those circumstances…the dirt and detritus of decades of never-quite-clean is sheared off of every surface, pushing its way into everything.

    It took many years for the generation of 1938 to make their way back to some sense of normalcy. Now, that whole area is so much more built up – built up waaay too much and too precariously. Will it be like New Orleans, will marginal people who were struggling at the best of times simply not return? Many from “Nawlins” ended up in Oklahoma and Texas, besides some scattering westward.

    Much of New Orleans can be blamed on the frozen-in-place governor. With Bobby Jindal at the helm that can’t happen again. And the corrupt mayor is long gone. Let’s see what Christie, et al, can do in their turn. Too bad he’s playing footsie with Obama when he could be calling on Gulf governors with their wealth of experience.

  • Robert

    Maybe Christie could get his head out of … and tell the unions to stop telling incoming electrical workers that they have to join the local to work on the lines.

  • MVH

    Donate to any on-scene charity but the Red Cross. The ones mentioned above are great. Operation Blessing is good, too. They’ve already got boots on the ground.

    The Red Cross are able to pay their directors +1/2 a million in salaries, and yet they only hand out hot chocolate and cookies to shivering, starving hurricane victims? They should just stick to blood drives. It’s what they’re good at, and it’s a worthy cause!

  • valerie

    My heart goes out to the family, and all of those hit by this storm.

  • Moonachie

    “Help the Kanavy family” Give me a break! Jerks who ignored the evacuation warning don’t deserve any help. Seaford is a coastal area.The fact they’re alive is all the compensation they should expect. Save your efforts for the people who were not in an evacuation area, but got devastated by the storm.

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  • Judy K. Warner

    Thank you for giving the link to the Salvation Army. That is the charity I always donate to when there is an emergency, and also locally for ongoing needs. Never the bureaucratized Red Cross.

  • Pleasance

    #8 November 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm
    Moonachie commented:
    “Help the Kanavy family” Give me a break! Jerks who ignored the evacuation warning don’t deserve any help. Seaford is a coastal area.The fact they’re alive is all the compensation they should expect. Save your efforts for the people who were not in an evacuation area, but got devastated by the storm.

    You obviously do not live near New York, Jersey, or Connecticut. Please tell me just where one moves boats, houses, docks to? Where exactly are they evacuated to.

    Many people stayed in their houses as after they evacuated during last years Hurricane Irene found out the looters came in and had taken everything. So what to do? Give everything to the looters or take the risk of staying?

    The looters are out in force and Bloomberg won’t allow National Guard as they are armed. Now residents have armed themselves.

    Moonachie – save your few dollars for yourself, I am sure in a disaster very few friends would come to your side.

    The Kanavy family now has a new and vast network of friends of friends and we will see them through this.

  • I won’t take as hard line as Moonachie did, but I also don’t understand those that chose to stay (something I might do) and didn’t have the provisions to stay and wing it for a week. This family doesn’t mention whether they did or did not and regardless of whether they stayed or left – they lost everything and certainly deserve sympathy and assistance getting back on their feet.

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