“Just take everything off of the floor. It won’t be so bad.”
When natural disasters strike, you watch them on the news from the comfort of your own home. You feel sympathetic towards the victims, you think hard about how you can help aid in the relief. But you never think it will happen to you. You sit on your couch, under your blanket with your hot chocolate, and think, “It’ll never happen to me.”
The sky was slate gray, the clouds slithering swiftly across the sky as I put the last box of my belongings into my car and shut the door. Tom and I spent the day pulling out drawers, trudging upstairs with chests and mattresses, stacking our belongings haphazardly on top of one another so that nothing valuable touched the cracking, tile floor. The couch sits on the coffee table. The TV stand is elevated four feet above the ground on kitchen stools. By the looks of things, you’d think we were moving out. Or that someone had robbed us. In reality, we’re just trying to salvage anything we can before our home of less than one year becomes damaged by tidal hurricane surges.
364 days out of the year, Freeport, Long Island is a dream come true. We live ten minutes from the beach. The Nautical Mile provides delicious fresh-caught seafood and convenient nightlife comparable to New York City’s outrageous clubs. I live ten minutes away from my job. I work ten minutes away from my graduate school. And when I’m not working, I’m relaxing on the beautiful deck hand-built by my landlord, an ambitious young man of 26, who worked tirelessly to renovate this once-decrepit foreclosure into a tropical oasis by the sea.
But it only takes one day to destroy everything.
Taking my things off the floor was the only advice my landlord could honestly provide. When flooding is involved, damages are inevitable. We’re expecting almost ten feet of coastal flooding to infiltrate our ground-floor apartment residing next to one of Freeport’s many canals. Our apartment will hold some water – it happened during Hurricane Irene – but we don’t know the severity of it all. We won’t know for a few days and even then, will we be mentally and emotionally ready?
In the end, I know I will have it better than others. I’ll lose very little, and I have people who love me and will help us regain footing during this disaster. We may join the ranks of those ravaged by tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes from the past. Maybe not comparable to Katrina, or the devastating tsunamis in Asia, but it will still be a large loss for many.
In the end, I have to keep remembering that it’s only things, that they can be replaced, and that this is a learning process. I firmly believe things happen for a reason. Whatever comes from this, will change me.
I think it’s time I had a change.