photograph by william taufic hair and makeup by warren-tricomi/nina velez
On october 29, when hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast, I was busy. I was filling the car with gas, getting cash out of the ATM, buying canned food and prepping fresh food with a long shelf life (carrots, cauliflower, apples). I got out the safety candles and matches, the crank flashlight, and the windup radio that can recharge a cell phone. I filled lined baskets with fresh water in the tub. I tucked the lawn furniture under the deck and dragged the garbage cans into the garage. I took down the Halloween decorations, knowing it would be canceled again. I vacuumed, did all of the laundry and took a long, hot shower. I posted reminders to our readers about how to prep, especially when it comes to seniors, children and pets, and retweeted relevant posts to our followers. I called friends to check on their plans.
I knew I might be mocked—my friends and neighbors don’t get rattled. I grew up in a beach community where flooding is common. I know complacency—like hurricane parties; like seeing my older brother raise his arms defiantly as storm-whipped waves crash against the sea wall and splash high over his fingertips; like my playful mother driving breezily through a nor’easter. And yet, despite nature and nurture, I am a planner.
Besides, the now-famous satellite image of Sandy swirling off the entire Eastern seaboard was arresting. We all hoped the trees wouldn’t fall. But they did. And the water surged. The devastation in Fairfield was unbelievable. Trees and power lines fell everywhere. Beach Road was unrecognizable. Art Director Venera Alexandrova was flooded out of her home, losing not only belongings but also privacy as she and her neighbors dragged damaged furniture and waterlogged storage boxes into the daylight. Creative Director Amy Vischio, her own house spared the worst, turned to help workers and homeowners at the beach with hot coffee and food—a spirit-raising gesture in the face of the overwhelming damage. Who can forget seeing a rooftop in the water? Or roadway ripped up along Pequot Avenue? Or a children’s park flooded to a height taller than most adults? Or a darkened row of houses day after day after day after day…?
What’s easier to believe are the heart-warming tales of Fairfielders helping one another after the storm. A weekend cleanup. Sports teams putting sand back on the beach. People opening their homes to displaced college students. I am in awe of this vibrant community that knows any one image of destruction is not the whole story. The rest are the many acts of kindness that bring the community together as one.