The first thought that often comes to my mind when reflecting on Hurricane Sandy…I did fear I could be killed. The Atlantic Ocean swallowed up homes and cars in the Rockaways where I was reporting.
It was also very odd that I would be thinking this. I had covered the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and experienced massive aftershocks that were frightening. I was in Puerto Rico for Hurricane Georges in 1998. I saw first-hand the destruction in both, Japan after the tsunami and in the Dominican Republic after tropical storm Noel. But here I was in my home city, in Queens, covering Hurricane Sandy.
While reporting in the Rockaways with my NY1 colleagues, I was one of the first to go live on the air and report New Yorkers would die that night. Some thought I was causing an unnecessary panic, but that was not the case. It was an unfortunate reality. After seeing the NY1 car and other vehicles washed down the street by the ocean, the power flickering on and off in the entire neighborhood and homes on fire in the distance, this was quickly turning into a catastrophic event for parts on NYC and the tri-state.
My NY1 colleagues and I were not sure if the house we were staying in - the home of NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt - would be destroyed.
Out of concern, I called my contacts at the 100th Precinct, which was only down the block. An officer told me not to come there, because they were calling for help themselves and didn’t exactly know what to do. Their stationhouse was also being flooded by the rushing waters.
Throughout the night, I reported on the devastation that was being caused in the Rockaways. Hearing the concern in my voice about what was happening in Queens, my family members back in the North Bronx were frantic that I was in danger. They even called the TV station to make sure I was OK, but NY1 staffers didn’t really know the answer to that. As a New Yorker and a veteran news reporter, I know about safety and did all I could to be prepared. I even traveled with a floatation device and a mini-generator.
While doing my job, my heart was breaking for many of my NY1 colleagues who lived in the communities being destroyed. They were working but also trying to save their homes and even families. I vividly remember one colleague who was receiving frantic calls from family members. Their house was flooding quickly and other homes on the block were on fire and they didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, they made it through the storm in one piece.
For the following hours and days, I covered the devastation and spoke to residents. Many people were in disbelief and turmoil. Lives lost, homes and property destroyed. Many pulled together with first responders over the following days and weeks to survive without heat, electricity and water— a true sign of the resiliency that exists amongst this city.