An Island and Its Storm: Sandy’s Aftermath In Pictures and Poetry
Remaining unnoticed is not a new thing for Staten Island.
As the atmosphere settled, we saw clearly the devastation.
We had no power, we had no phones, we had no gas in what remained of our cars, our family and friends were missing, and our bridges were closed.
In the days following Super Storm Sandy, it became apparent that Staten Island was not getting any news coverage, and subsequently, not getting any help. Remaining unnoticed is not a new thing for this island, being obscure despite its geographic location. This time things were different; this time residents could not go the distance alone.
I cannot say for sure what compelled me out of my home. A sense of responsibility is difficult to justify, even though my family has been here for nearly 200 years. I feel indebted to this island for shaping me as a woman and a writer. I am pulled to its defense and protection by a dedication that could only be described as familial.
I went to the evacuation centers to get lists of supplies. I went to the neighborhoods to bring clothing, water, and food directly to the residents who had lost their homes and possessions. I sought out small pockets of bungalows along the East Coast of the island. I knew these areas, I knew that the people who lived there were not of means. I used what was left of my gas in desperate trips, leaving my house, which was serving as its own evacuation center for my family and friends. Working side-by-side with other Staten Islanders, I helped coordinate, organize, and distribute donations from around the nation. This continues today.
These photos were borne of the need to offer images with my social media cries for donations and volunteers. I have taken over 250 pictures of the East Shore of Staten Island starting the day after the storm and continuing even now. As this grew, it transformed itself into the most effective “image-maker” I know: poetry. Everything I write about this storm is dedicated to the residents of Staten Island and is for the sole purpose of giving their voices a space to be heard.
All of our ends, deaded and dull.
There are whispers of the ocean
crawling back, lying in wait
to thrust itself forward again
as a cornered animal. Vice grip
your memories—if their moorings
loosen, you will both be forever
lost at sea. Your lenses are not
scratched, the world is shredded.