For many of Ocean City's residents, the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused is still a part of their everyday reality, not a part of their past.
Memories stemming from the storm are still being created as residents watch their homes and businesses slowly being rebuilt and food and furniture collections still being formed to serve a need that wasn't there before the storm.
But 50 years from now, the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, both the physical and emotional, will be nothing more than memories passed down through personal accounts, photographs, videos, newspaper clips and other artifacts, Ocean City History Museum Director Jeff McGranahan said.
These memories and memorabilia will come from the people who lived through Hurricane Sandy - all of us, McGranahan said, speaking on behalf of the residents of Ocean City.
"We were all impacted by Hurricane Sandy," he said. "Every life was touched by this storm. It's something we will never forget."
As a means of beginning to preserve the history marked by Hurricane Sandy, while also being respectful and sensitive to those who are still facing challenges caused by the historic storm, the city's historical museum and the Ocean City Free Public Library will host an event Jan. 31, "Hurricane Sandy: Sharing our Stories."
The event is being modeled after the museum's 50th anniversary 1962 storm event, which was held last summer and was well received.
"We had to turn people away at the door," McGranahan said.
Also similar to the '62 storm event, the Hurricane Sandy event will include a slideshow of photos and videos taken by community members during and after the storm and donated to the museum, as well as an open forum for residents to share their personal accounts with the others.
"We're really interested in hearing people's stories," McGranahan said.
For example, he said, he'd be interested to hear about the experiences of the city's Public Works and Police Department during the storm, as well as stories from residents who stayed on the island and rode out the hurricane and contractors who are willing to talk about the ins and outs of the repair and restoration phase.
The museum is hoping to get stories for people who live in all areas of the island. McGranahan said when the museum staff was looking through its '62 storm collection to put together its 50th anniversary event, they realized the collection didn't fairly represent the entire island.
"We understand the south end of the island is different than the north part of the island and the center of the island, and that these areas and the people who live there were hit differently," he said. "This time around, we're going to try our best to represent the entire island as accurately as possible."
Edna May, a longtime resident of Ocean City's south end, who rode out the storm of '62 in Ocean City with her family and hosts an annual photo collection of Ocean City's past that includes a section on that storm, said she feels it's important to preserve stories and memorabilia on these historic natural disasters.
"I've collected the photo not just because I wanted to save them for myself, but because I want to share them with the community," May said. "I like to tell the stories."
She evacuated the island during Hurricane Sandy, but said one of her daughters who lived in a second-floor apartment on Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue stayed and took a few photos she later shared with her mother. May said she will attend the Jan. 31 event and looks forward to seeing more photos and hearing the stories.
The museum staff will be videotaping the Jan. 31 event, specifically capturing Ocean City residents' personal accounts, which will be added as part of its Hurricane Sandy collection for future generations to view and learn from.
"We want to be able to show the future generations what our community experienced and how they came together and persevered," McGranahan said.
Contact Elisa Lala:
If you go
What: 'Hurricane Sandy: Sharing our Stories,' hosted by the Ocean City Historical Museum and the Ocean City Free Public Library.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31
Where: Library's Lecture Hall in the Ocean City Community Center, 1735 Simpson Ave.