Below is a personal account from Elizabeth Fuller, a New York resident who was in the city when Sandy hit. Our hearts and prayers go out to to everyone who has been affected by the wrath of the storm. Please take a moment to read this first-hand

account, and remember just how strong New York really is.

Everyone knows that New York is strong—we survived 9/11, countless other devastating acts of terror, hurricanes and snowstorms. However, despite how much we’ve lived through, it never gets less hard to see this city—the city that so many love—in so much pain. But we should go back to the days before, when no one needed to remember just how strong this city really is.

Short of government officials telling us, no one seemed to really believe that hurricane Sandy was really a threat. Everyone scoffed at the idea, using air quotes around the word “hurricane” if someone would bring it up when discussing weekend plans before leaving work that Friday afternoon. It just seemed like another over hyped media event that wasn’t really worth preparing for. I mean, when was the last time you actually needed all those batteries, bottled water and enough candles to light a Catholic mass? But something changed come Saturday morning. The news reports were throwing around words like “perfect storm” and suddenly you began to feel something different in the air. Not the temperature, but in the way people were acting. Everyone was rushing around, trying to get last minute errands done before they might actually be cooped up for the next couple of days. Pictures of empty shelves where water bottles and bread used to live were popping up all over your Facebook news feed and people tweeting things like “Wait, is this actually going to be bad?” You felt something switch. People were no longer as confident as they once were when they were making a joke of the whole thing, but instead people actually began to make serious plans.

Sunday felt like Fall break. Everyone drinking wine and watching their DVRs all day, waiting for something more than whistling wind blowing around leaves outside. Just at the point where you thought it might be much less worse than they predicted, it hit, and it felt like terror was really at your door. The very first whip of wind was so strong that I lost feeling in my legs for just a moment, that’s how truly loud and scary it really was. All around you trees were cracking, falling to the ground with a loud boom, and you realized that this was really happening and that you had every right to be scared. Lights flickered on and off, and stayed off for hundreds of thousands of people, and wind constantly hit your window like someone was desperately trying to get in.

The next day we woke up to an eerie calm across the city. Immediately turning the news on, we all saw the Governor of New York, Governor Cuomo, speaking so calmly to the New York people. Before we even had a chance to go outside and survey the damage for yourself, we were instilled with hope and a sense of peace as Governor Cuomo kept repeating “New York is strong,” which became a sentiment that you soon realized you needed to believe as you began to see footage of the utter devastation that had swept across the tri-state area as you slept through it the night before.

Displaced families, tragic deaths and homes completely ripped apart, just by wind and water. A sense of great loss sweeps over you as you realize that could have easily been you. Those of us on the Upper West Side got lucky this time, but many of our our friends and neighbors didn’t. The whole city seemed to stop and take it all in; like a little epoch of time where all of New York and the surrounding areas paused and acknowledged the crisis they were in, reassessed and made a game plan. New York is full of do-ers and givers and lovers and tragic believers. New York is made up of people that believe in each other and believe in this state and will stop at nothing to create a sense of wholeness again. We are a people currently undivided in the goal, to help those in crises and to rebuild that what was taken away. There is a palpable sense of unity in the air, which transcends all political, religious and economical views.

Today, tomorrow and always, New York is strong, and that’s something that should not be taken lightly.

Thousands of people are still without power and food and need our help. To make a donation, you can text REDCROSS to 90999. Please do it, we all need just a little bit of help in a time of dire need.

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