Days after Hurricane Sandy, NY1 began following one family's progress getting their six children back in school and on track. Six months after the storm, they were still struggling. But now, a year later, the Charles family reports that all but one of them has recovered. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
The six kids in the Charles family say they've moved on from Hurricane Sandy. It's a new school year, their apartment has a bright new coat of paint, and the new car runs just fine.
"We just put it behind us," said Brianna Charles.
But their mother, Navala, can't speak of that time without tears.
"Out in the streets, looking for food," recalled Navala Charles.
That's where NY1 first met them - looking for food and water a week after the storm. School had technically reopened, but like many children on the Rockaway Peninsula, 10-year-old Joshua and his siblings were just trying to get their family through each day.
"We're survivors," said Joshua Charles.
They ended up missing weeks of class, yet somehow this fall all six children advanced to the next grade.
"I never went to summer school, and I didn't want to start," said Brianna Charles.
When asked about the storm, the children seemed more curious than upset. Joshua wanted to know how hurricanes are named. Brianna said she is learning about p-waves in science. Five-year-old Preston wondered what color Sandy was.
"They look at it as an adventure, but at one point they were scared," said Navala Charles.
Charles says she came to this country from Trinidad to give her children a better life, and for awhile, Sandy destroyed that stability.
"It was just horrible. It was like living a nightmare day after day," she said.
But her children say she protected them.
"The only person that could have gotten us through it was mom. She was there for us and she made us happy even though we like had no food and nothing to drink," said Brittany Charles.
When little Preston Charles was asked about his mother, he became suddenly shy but said she was "sweet and helpful."
Behind the Charles' curtain is the ocean. The view is now marked by tape put up to guard against storm gusts.
"That's like a reminder of Sandy, the star. It's still there. I'll put some Christmas lights," said Navala Charles.