In her essay, “Sandy’s Wrath,” Cynthia Paulis, DO, ’84, describes in great detail her harried experience of surviving Hurricane Sandy. The October 2012 storm, which affected 24 states on the Atlantic coast, was deadly and destructive. Dr. Paulis’ account, excerpted here, was one of 40 essay winners in a worldwide competition that were included in “We Will Survive: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration, and the Power of Song” the December 2013 book by 70s disco queen and Grammy Award-winner Gloria Gaynor.
… The wind started to howl and the temperature dropped. I went to the beach and watched as the waves churned and threatened in the distance. … Sandy was hungry and angry, but that day none of us could imagine to what degree.
… The next day there was massive destruction over three states … Those who lived by the sea found their homes filled with water in a matter of minutes as the ocean and the bay joined hands and charged onto the land, killing people and sweeping them out to sea.
WEB EXCLUSIVE See her television interview and learn more about Long Island, N.Y., emergency room physician and full-time writer Dr. Paulis.
… It looked like a war zone outside. Trees had crashed into homes, grabbing onto power lines as they fell. Live wires were popping and crackling, spitting out sparks as they snaked their way across the pavement, littered with debris. Some streets had fish flopping around on the sidewalk, gasping for their last breath.
… Days of darkness and freezing temperatures turned into weeks with no relief in sight. I refused to fail pioneer school 101, so I decided to become more efficient. I lined my bed with flannel sheets and a down comforter, covered it with a plastic tarp to keep in the heat, and grabbed a couple of cats for warmth; they didn’t seem to mind.
… During the day I rode my bike to a local park where a Red Cross relief center had been set up and volunteered, distributing food, water, and blankets. On the way to the park I passed home after home with all of its possessions dumped out on the street, reeking of saltwater, sewage, and now mold. A lifetime of memories destined for the dump. It was heartbreaking to see, yet there was one thing that struck me with each person I spoke with. They all seemed to say the same thing: “I was lucky. I was blessed. I survived.” – Cynthia Paulis
Image © Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock.com