Before this, the stories we had heard of Hurricane Sandy were pretty uplifting. Sure, there was loss of property and power, but people turned out okay. We were telling hopeful tales of NICU babies carried down flights of stairs while dedicated nurses breathed for them. We heard about the newborns delivered during the natural disaster in what had to be a terrifying, but still positive experience because it ended up with a healthy baby. There was even a modern day, real life superhero in Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only stories of Hurricane Sandy. There were others without any happy ending. There were stories like that of two Staten Island boys swept out of their mother’s grasp during the flood.
With all the talk of power coming back and subways lurching back into action, it’s easy to forget that the US death toll for Hurricane Sandy is 90 people. That is a huge number of lives that were taken away during this horrible storm. Those are a whole lot of awful tales from the Hurricane that we haven’t heard too much about yet.
At six o’clock p.m. on Monday, Glenda Moore packed her two sons up in her SUV and tried to outrun Hurricane Sandy. She was attempting to leave Staten Island as the storm rolled in. But even at that early hour, before all the news reports began to show apocolyptic pictures of MTA stations and flooding at ground zero, the wind and rain was too much in Staten Island. Moore’s car stalled. She got out and tried to carry her 2 and 4-year-old sons to safety. Tragically, the rushing waters pulled the two young boys from their mother’s grip.
Glenda Moore spent the rest of the night searching for her sons, trying to get help in a mostly deserted neighborhood, and finally seeking shelter on the porch of an abandoned home. Then yesterday, police finally found the bodies of her two little boys, Brandon and Connor.
To say that I cannot begin to imagine what Glenda Moore is going through right now would be a gross understatement. Her experience seems to come out of a terrible doomsday movie. It’s hard to accept that it really happened, because it feels too horrific to comprehend.
Hurricane Sandy may be over. Politicians may have resumed campaigning for next week’s election. The country seems focused on gas lines and cleaning debris. But we should also take a minute to think about those who didn’t end up with receiving heroic support from emergency responders that made everything okay. We should think about those families that didn’t make it out in tact. Those people need our thoughts, our prayers, and our support. Those stories still deserve to get told, even while we’re all focusing on relief and aid.
To some extent, it feels like there’s been two different Hurricanes. One was horrendous and it destroyed communities and left mothers grieving. It happened along the New Jersey coast and in places like Staten Island. Then, there’s a whole different Hurricane narrative that got almost all of the media attention. That was the single scary night that kept Manhattanites uploading dramatic pictures to Instagram all night. This second storm made it difficult to get into work this week and left some people without power. It broke some windows and damaged cars and parking garages. But this one terrible story from Staten Island might just be awful enough to shift the focus back to the real horrors of Hurricane Sandy, the ones that won’t be fixed by a working subway system.
Glenda Moore just went through an experience that most of us could not begin to understand. It is tragedy at it’s most poignant. So let’s all remember her and her sons as we continue to talk about Hurricane Sandy, the damage it did, and what can or cannot be rebuilt.