By Nicolette Pearl
It was 2012 around midnight and I was sleeping in my bed peacefully. I woke up to being shaken and sirens going off. I thought it was just because my lawn caught on fire again in the middle of the night because someone threw a cigarette on our trash can. But no, it was way worse. It was something that would change my life.
I grew up in Manville, New Jersey. My family had a house that myself and my cousins grew up in. Our house was the house to go to if you wanted to see family because family was always there. My grandfather built me a swing, I would play on it almost every day. I would make my cousins eat the leaves off the tree because the swing would reach the tree. Then, I got older. So, of course, my grandparents had to buy me a Barbie jeep. That was my new favorite. My house in Manville was the house that would bring the family together on special occasions. Holidays, birthdays, and so much more, until midnight of 2012.
As my dad wakes me up around midnight I was frustrated and confusion on why I couldn’t just sleep and why everyone was in such a panic. My dad starts packing me clothes and toys and put warm clothes on me and tells me to go downstairs. As I go downstairs, the power is off but our old radio was on but its a lot of static. We were being told to evacuate. I was seven, I didn’t know what that was but I knew it wasn’t good. My grandfather starts to board up all of the windows and is yelling at my grandmother and aunt to get out of the house with me before its too late. It was too late. The road was flooded and the bridge was shut down. I looked outside the window and my barbie jeep and favorite swing set was submerged underwater. My whole backyard was a pond. My basement had filled up with water too.
When we were ready to go with things packed up we were stuck with no vehicle. My dad had to get the canoe and canoe my grandmother, aunt, and I to a shelter. My grandfather stayed back. I was really sad to be leaving my dad and grandfather but I knew they were helping out the other people on our street.
When I got to the shelter I was looking around and I was scared. There were no beds and it was cold. The shelter gave you a cot which is not very comfortable but at least it was something. I was waking up in the middle of the night and I was scared but my grandmother and aunt could not fall asleep because they were worried about my dad and grandfather. We had to stay in the shelter for a couple days. When the water was low enough to walk in the streets and it stopped raining my aunt, grandmother, and I walked to Walmart. I remember walking over the railroad tracks and seeing all the damage that was done and being very cold. When we got into Walmart the store was almost vacant and there was nothing on the shelves, people had taken it all. As we were walking back to the shelter with empty hands, I saw all of the damage that was done. So many houses, parks, and schools were ruined. Our town needed to be rebuilt. That day we also checked into a hotel and my dad and grandfather came to stay. They would go back every day to our broken home that no longer held our family gatherings. They fixed it up and we were ready to go back to try and live our normal life, but that just was not possible. Our house was still ruined and everything was wet. Our neighbors’ house were ruined. That is when we had the idea to move to Vermont and we started to repair our family in a new house in a new state.
I still go back to my old house seven years later. My street is still ruined, the park I would go to is still ruined, my house is still ruined but the memories will last forever. Now my street is filled with broken vacant homes and the homeless have now made the broken houses theirs. Hurricane Sandy was a devastating loss and the loss is still being repaired. But, I am now safe and sound in a new home.
About Nicolette Pearl
Nicolette Pearl lived in New Jersey when Hurricane Sandy struck her house and town. Nicolette is currently taken some steps to become a better writer. She is enrolled in a creative writing class and some poetry classes.