Dear Sandy: Young people write about hurricane's effect on their lives
Students at Atlantic City High School got an up close and personal view of Hurricane Sandy.
For some, the storm was a life-changing experience. For others, it was an adventure. And for a few it was just a boring few days of no school (good), but also no power to play their video games (very bad).
Sandy taught many lessons and English teacher Aase Schults saw an opportunity to share them.
After they returned to class, she asked her students to write about their experiences, then shared their essays with The Press of Atlantic City.
Adriana Nicosia, of Ventnor, called Sandy “a bully who started off by saying she wasn’t that mean,” then slammed her city.
“You’ve really managed to hit home with what you’ve done,” Sarah Munoz began in her “Dear Sandy” letter from “Everyone on the East Coast with more than enough sincerity and a strong loathing.”
We’ve chosen three letters to highlight from students who live in Brigantine, Ventnor and Atlantic City, plus quotes from other students’ essays. During this holiday season, Sandy has given them an opportunity to reassess what is important in life.
“One thing I thought was really nice, people were riding around just trying to help others,” Christopher Marsh wrote. “I guess tragedy can bring out the best in people. It would be great if it could always be like that, people helping each other.”
Contact Diane D'Amico:
Ventnor teen sees loss, destruction
- Sarah Munoz, Ventnor
You’ve really managed to hit home with what you’ve done. All across New Jersey, bodies have been found, theme park rides are down, houses have drowned, and things have been ruined and lost. People have nowhere to live, they’re getting kicked out of hotels, forced to sleep on the sofa of a long distance cousin, or an uncle in debt. How will I recover? How will you remind all the children that lost their homes, it’s going to be okay?
More importantly to me, you’ve reached the level where it gets personal. I’m sure you weren’t thinking when you barged into my basement, when you flooded the outlets, ruined the washer and dryer, and took down my heater. The night you did that, I went to go check the damage just to find the majority of my clothes in your wet arms. Drowning. Where is the money to replace what you’ve taken? I don’t think you’re going to replace the walls and flooring you damaged. What about my garage, too? Will you replace the auto parts my uncle so desperately needed?
It’s all ruined — the bathroom, the bedroom, the kitchen especially. Not mine, but my uncle’s. I wake up every morning to the homeless man sleeping on my sofa. Where is his new home, Sandy? My grandma, too. Her washer and dryer, the old flat screen TV, the furniture, her memories, every single picture she couldn’t manage to move. Pictures of precious moments and passed family, that have been building up since before she was born. I remember the way she used to speak of Aunt Dolly after she died — like she was a god — and how her old china dolls and plates were all she had left of Dolly. I also remember seeing you wash away the china dolls from existence since they’re broken now. How do you think you will replace every single sentimental item you swept away into the green gook traveling through your waters?
Sandy, I am a volunteer. I see hungry faces when I visit the church to bring fresh food. You don’t have to come back, so you don’t have to see the pain on faces of lost kids, bright green eyes sticking out through their curly dark locks. I see the people who no longer own clothes walk into the library for help, desperation standing out almost too clearly on their faces. How are you going to wipe the memory from those children? Pay for the things the mothers now have to replace?
You can’t. You never could. Did you even think about it?
This is just Ventnor, but what about Seaside? Or Wildwood, and Brigantine, and Long Beach Island? They’re all broken.
What am I even saying? You’re just a hurricane. Just like Irene, Hugo, and Katrina. You didn’t mean any harm, though you caused more than enough. As much as we all need something or someone to blame, no one can be at fault. I mean, people were even blaming Obama like he can just put a shield around the world, or something. Weather doesn’t have a mind of its own, does it?
Just a hurricane, right? Sure.
With more than enough sincerity and a strong loathing,
Everyone on the East Coast
So many ruined possessions
- Christopher Marsh, Atlantic City
Our family went to my aunt and uncle’s house in Mays Landing to escape hurricane Sandy. We stayed there for five days.
Our house in Atlantic City was flooded with water. Our garage was flooded and the water was so powerful it moved the refrigerator. All of our holiday decorations were ruined along with pictures and photo albums and the washer and dryer. The water surged in our family room and destroyed the sofa, loveseat, treadmill and also ruined my basketballs, footballs, and baseball gloves. The day after the storm my dad got to go into Atlantic City and see my house. He said it smelled like dead fish.
Driving into Atlantic City was almost scary, it looked like something out of a war zone movie. There were no cars or people and trash everywhere. We went into our house; it smelled horrible. There was trash all over my lawn, a big block of wood that looked like someone’s deck came from nowhere, and a child’s toy in perfect condition sat on top of the wood. In my backyard there were trees down, my balcony blew off, and my fence blew down.
Inside my house my dad had moved a lot of the things trying to save them from the storm. We did move the big TV before we left so we didn’t lose that. If we had any idea that the storm would be that powerful, we would have moved more items to higher ground. We drove through Atlantic City and looked around. Debris was everywhere. There were road signs in the street, pieces of the Boardwalk in the street and the whole city smelled like oil.
The next day we did nothing but clean and put things that were ruined on the curb. We were lucky that we had electricity and heat, so many of the houses in our neighborhood were without power for almost two weeks. Houses that had power restored were still without heat because you could not light the hot water heater without someone from the gas company coming to check it out. There could be an explosion from the gas line and the salt water. The next week we were still trying to get our house back to normal. For a long time all you saw on the streets were couches, chairs and carpet pulled up, dining room tables, mattresses, just people’s lives left on the curb. We have to wait to replace all the furniture in the family room, but some of the things that were special memories can’t be replaced.
Even so, my mom and dad said we were still very lucky, because our upstairs is okay, and there are people who lost everything. One thing I thought was really nice, people were riding around just trying to help others. I guess tragedy can bring out the best in people. It would be great if it could always be like that people helping each other.
Power out, nothing to do
Ralph ‘RJ’ Davis, Brigantine
During Hurricane Sandy I was at my friend’s house in Brigantine. My family had gone to New York. I felt that the storm wasn’t going to be as bad as it was. For the first day the power stayed on. But by Monday afternoon, the power was all gone. The storm hit viciously, knocking the power out instantly. No power means no lights, no TV, no Internet! Life was horrible at that moment.
The only thing to do was to sleep and eat. The sound of the rain and wind wasn’t helping it out either. For four days I sat there, listened to tons of music and watched the storm. The flooding was crazy; the water outside the house was up to 4 feet because we were right next to the bay. The winds were breaking fences, mailboxes, and windows. Personally I have never seen anything like it. It was barely a category one hurricane, but felt like a five. By the second day it felt like a month.
It felt like forever because there was nothing to do. No Youtube, Facebook, or television. By the third day there was no food, on top of having no Internet and television. So my friend and I ate the last bit of food and went to sleep. On the fourth day the storm was finally over. Thankfully, there was even a store to get real food. We had been living off chips and dry cereal. When we got to the store, it was as great as paradise. I literally got $50 worth of food. I got hot dogs, cheeseburgers, candy, and even cheesecake. The power wasn’t on, but we were free to walk around for the first time in four days.
So we went and played basketball and football. By the next day, the electric company was on the island and fixed the power and cable. This experience was a good one for me. It caused damage and problems for a few days, but it was fun in some type of weird way. It will also give me great stories to tell my kids in the future.