Reflecting On The Hurricane

Tonight I’m sitting at my desk working on a couple of different blog posts with the television on in the background. Normally when I write, I like to write in complete silence. It helps me focus.

Hurricane Sandy dredges up Boyd's memories of a childhood flood.

But tonight I can’t seem to concentrate, and I have the television on in the office for a bit of white noise to break the silence for a different change of pace. Tonight, Brian Williams is hosting a news special and telling the story of the plight of many Americans in the Northeast affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The images flashing across the screen are amazingly apocalyptic. Watching a river of water filling the subways of New York City is unfathomable to me.

I’ve only been to New York City once, and I rode the subway. To see those tunnels filling with water is truly frightening.

The photo of the crane hanging precariously above the street below is something I have never seen before and hope to never see again.

I think the most amazing story I heard tonight was the blizzard and nearly two feet of snow that fell in West Virginia today.

The stories of people living without power or heat in the second stories of their home is gut wrenching. I was sickened seeing photos of stairwells filling with water as the homeowners explained that their basements and lower floors were completely flooded.

In 1983, I was 10, and lived through a flood in our hometown. I remember watching the water flow down the street, then up over the curb. Within hours, it was over the front porch and making it’s way under the front door.

Fortunately, we were able to get sandbags from the local fire department and the city delivered a dump truck-load of sand to a vacant lot across the street.

It was a matter of hours before every neighbor on the block was filling sandbags and shuttling them with wheelbarrows to others, who helped stack them along the upstream edge the city block, diverting water away from our houses and into a drainage channel the National Guard had created with heavy equipment.

It took many months for our houses to dry out. Floors buckled, carpet became moldy, and tile cracked. The stench was sickening.

When our houses were surveyed for damage, they found that water had seeped up the sheetrock and damaged the walls. Almost three feet of sheetrock along the floor had to be replaced in most of the rooms of our house.

The foundation on one side of the house sunk four to six inches in some areas and had to be raised with giant jacks and blocks. To say it was a mess is an understatement.

We were fortunate that no one was seriously hurt or killed during the flood when I was a kid. My heart breaks for the families who lost loved ones as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

One of the many lessons my parents taught us when we were young was that things can always be replaced; people can’t.

I am encouraged to hear of the stories of strangers helping fellow citizens escape from the storm’s path and seek shelter on higher ground.

I know the cleanup effort soon to begin is going to one of the largest our country has seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’m encouraged to hear stories of people all across the country beginning to collect food, clothing, supplies, and donations for those affected by the storm.

It is my hope that through the generosity of others, those affected by this storm will find a quicker road to recovery and the life they once knew.

Were you or someone you know affected by the hurricane this week? Do you have an interesting or compelling story you would like to share about the kindness of others? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a safe weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: