Small Businesses, Social Media Saved My Town During Hurricane Sandy
LONG BEACH, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- It's taken me a week to be able to sit down at my computer and peck out words between an evacuation, a clean-up and the emotional trauma of surviving a hurricane like Sandy. It's not one I'll ever forget.
I live in Long Beach, N.Y., a coastal community located on a barrier island on the south shore of Long Island. I've lived here for the better part of 11 years, and the reason I love it so much is not only for the beautiful ocean views from my apartment located right on the Atlantic, but for the strong sense of community encouraged in the town.
About 30,000 people live in Long Beach. Before the storm, it was usual to see joggers at all hours of the day on the 2-mile boardwalk, riders on their cruiser bicycles, surfers in the water (even in the dead of winter) and locals wearing flip flops year-round. Between the limitless benefits, road races, summer music concerts on the beach, happy hours in popular bars in the West End and the annual Polar Bears Super Bowl Splash in the winter, the residents and businesses of this town have created a sense of connection, comfort and security.
But Hurricane Sandy put Long Beach to the test.
The weather forecasts weren't wrong when they warned of dangerous storm surges and massive flooding. I was one of many people who stayed in town during the storm. (I live on the fourth floor of an apartment building about 20 feet from the ocean and assumed the storm would be similar to Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.)
I wish that were the case. During the worst of the storm, I watched water, 4-feet high, rush through the streets. Large chunks of our beloved boardwalk were ripped off by the wind and carried by the surge up my block. My building and the one near me have apartments on the ground floor. One poor soul had his door forced open by the surge, so besides flooding, he had tons of sand enter his apartment. Car alarms kept sounding off all night by those unlucky enough to leave cars parked in the lots closest to the water. They floated around like bumper cars crashing into one another.
Tuesday morning after the storm, I decided to head outside to survey the damage, since my apartment had none. What I saw shocked me. It was similar to Hurricane Katrina photos.