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Trinis tell of day when Sandy hit (with CNC3 video)
When New York resident Susan Jules visited her home at Rockaway Beach yesterday, she cried. In a telephone interview, Jules described what she saw as “utter devastation” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which pounded the eastern coast of the United States on Monday, leaving thousands homeless.
Originally from Morvant, Jules migrated to the US 25 years ago and has been a bank teller for the past 16 years. She described her community as very badly hit and without basic facilities like electricity and running water. “This is nothing that I have ever seen in my life. The destruction is unthinkable... there is total devastation everywhere. I cannot even begin to describe what I’m seeing,” Jules said, adding: “Trees are uprooted. There is still extensive flooding.
“I also lost one of my cars. The waves were so powerful that they pushed together all the cars in the parking lot.” Jules said the boardwalk in the front of her beachfront high-rise apartment lay in the streets. She was thankful that unlike what happened in other parts of New York, the entire apartment building was not ripped away by Sandy.
“I can still access my apartment but the cleanup is going to be very extensive because the building was flooded. It’s much worse than what we expected and it’s going to take a long time to put things back into order,” Jules said. She had to climb 12 flights of stairs to get to her top-floor apartment as the elevators were not working.
While most opted to leave their homes and go to shelters, Jules forked out US$180, plus taxes, to stay at the Howard Johnson Hotel close to the JFK International Airport. She has been there since Sunday. “I’ve stayed there when Hurricane Irene hit the US and we had access to electricity and other basic facilities. When Sandy came, we also had power, so that was good,” Jules said.
While she stocked up on water and basic food supplies, Jules said she was quickly running out as she had underestimated the impact of the storm. Her biggest challenge is loss of income. But with the transportation system still down, Jules said she had no idea when she would resume work.
She added: “I need to work to get money. That’s my biggest worry right now. The subway is down, there are no buses running... nothing... and we don’t know when things would be up again. “People are trying to move about on foot and by whatever means they can to look at their home and get things like water and other groceries but no one can go to work as yet.”
Sandy has also damaged the communication system, leaving thousands like Jules wondering about the safety and well-being of their loved ones. Her son Hafeez lives in Long Island and up to yesterday the network system remained crippled. She said: “ I can’t call him because we don’t know when the network would be restored. I am very depressed by all of this. Everyone didn’t think it was going to be as bad as it was.”
But in the face of adversity Jules has drawn strength from the fact that Sandy spared her life. “I have a lot of cleaning up to do but at least I’m alive to do it.” Unlike New York, residents of inner Boston generally escaped the brunt of Sandy’s wrath. Columnist with the Sunday Guardian Denzil Mohammed, who lives there, said there was very high winds but little devastation.
In an interview yesterday, Mohammed said: “When Sandy hit I was actually talking to my uncle in New Jersey and then the signal in his phone started going.” Mohammed, who works for a non-profit organisation called the Immigrant Learning Centre, said the majority of Boston residents did not go to work yesterday.
He added: “A lot of schools are still closed but there is not a lot of damage because we didn’t get a direct hit. Even though I stocked up on water and batteries, I didn’t need it. There is a sense of relief in the community that it’s all over.” But Long Island resident Ayanna Mc Clean had to seek shelter by friends after her apartment became flooded.
Mc Clean, daughter of T&T Guardian associate editor Cherill Mc Clean, said although her boyfriend put sandbags in front of the apartment building, they, as well as her car were easily swept away by the raging waters. She was thankful her boyfriend and her dog were safe.
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