Memories of Superstorm Sandy

Reading this it was clear, it could of been our story. The Hodnett family, like us, also lived less than one mile from the Atlantic Ocean.

Memories of Superstorm Sandy
As we continue our “Force of Nature” series on SearchAmelia, I found a wonderful piece, Memories of Superstorm Sandy, written by Gaetina Hodnett. Hodnett recalls the details of that stormy night and how they could have been better prepared. Reading the first paragraph it was clear if this storm had hit Amelia Island, this could of been our story. The Hodnett family, like many of us here in Fernandina Beach, also lived less than one mile from the Atlantic Ocean. They say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” This is indeed an eye opener.

Author credit: Gaetina Hodnett

It was a cloudy Monday in late October 2012 when Superstorm Sandy approached Long Island. The weather reports were frequent and very informative; however, I didn’t think the storm would have any impact on my family because of our experience with Hurricane Irene the previous year. We live less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean and sustained minimal damage after Hurricane Irene.

Throughout the day it didn’t rain much but it was very cloudy. Seeing this, I was confident that Sandy would pass through leaving us relatively unscathed. My preparation for the storm merely involved moving patio furniture from the decks and flower pots to secure places.

After speaking to our neighbors, some of them chose to leave but my husband and I decided to stay in our home and endure the storm. My husband moved my car to higher ground and left his SUV in the driveway. After the car was moved, we pulled out our candles and flashlights and felt prepared for Hurricane Sandy.

As the day progressed, I looked out my window and noticed that the sky had become very dark. The winds were heavy and torrential rains had moved in. Utility pole lines swayed rapidly and water rose quickly in my front yard. My husband put pumps in the garage to combat the water but this was a futile attempt to remedy the situation. I watched in disbelief and helplessness as I realized that even the most powerful pump could not sway the raging waters that were taking over our home. We needed to come up with a plan of action if the water didn’t stop pouring into the house.

The Hodnett's back yard.Seeing how quickly things were progressing, my husband went to turn off the main power of the house to prevent a fire and move his car to higher ground. The time that he was gone felt like an eternity and I was afraid to be alone. Thoughts raced through my mind. Could the wind have blown electric lines in the water? Would my husband be able to make his way safely back through the rapidly rising water? I thought for sure something had gone wrong because of the water, wind, and darkness. When I opened the door to go find my husband and evacuate, he was standing there and informed me that the water was too deep for us to try to navigate through. We had no choice. We had to stay put and wait out the storm.

We watched powerlessly from our window as the water continued to rise. The wind was fierce and the entire neighborhood was dark. When the water reached the third step of our high ranch home, we decided that we would climb to the roof if the water continued to rise. After the storm, the National Guard knocked on the door to assist us in evacuating our home. As we watched the waters recede after high tide, we were relieved and thankful that our home, even flooded with four feet of water, remained standing.

The first floor of the Hodnett home.After our long, dark, stormy, and windy night with Superstorm Sandy, I thought about the choices we made both before and during the storm. The choice my husband and I made will impact us for the rest of our lives. Regretfully, we were not prepared for Sandy. The cost was astronomical in the loss of sentimental items – such as pictures, videos, and other personal items – that tied us to special memories of our past. Despite that loss, I feel we are blessed to be alive and share our story.

In the future, I will be proactive in being prepared for all hurricanes and storms by following the advice and recommendations to avoid another horrific experience. My husband and I will take every storm warning seriously because every storm is different and the level of impact will be different. You never know what can happen and we won’t be taking any more chances.

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