Estimates of the death toll from Hurricane Sandy along the Eastern U.S. Coast are hard to pin down right now, but CNN has the number at 110. While The Huffington Post movingly describes the tragic affect Sandy had on many of the elderly nearer to the NYC shore, my own focus is a little closer to home.
As Wayne said in a comment on today’s Sunday Roast, “our area…lost a handful of people” – yes, only four people died in or around Putnam County (we’re in Dutchess Cty, but only 4 miles north of the Putnam county line.) But two of the four were children, killed when a tree fell on the house they were in. The house had power despite the hurricane, and two children from a neighbor’s house were visiting with their two friends, watching TV, when the tree came down. Now two more families are beginning their struggle to cope with every parent’s nightmare.
Here’s what our hometown’s community turnout looked like at Beecher’s Funeral Home for one of the youths. Beecher’s is a sort of local landmark: it seems to have been there forever (certainly for our entire lifetimes), standing atop a large wedge of hillside that slopes down toward the Village proper. It’s where the vast majority of Brewster and nearby area residents are waked. Wayne and I have said goodbye there to so, so many family members, friends, loved ones, neighbors; we both grew up in Brewster Heights, a development on the next hill behind Beecher’s; Bobby and Judy (my brother/Wayne’s sister) raised Emily and Adam in a house right behind Beecher’s. So yes, this is kinda personal.
Our area is coping with the loss of electricity, the downed trees, the blocked roads. As of this past Thursday, Putnam County had cancelled their “State of Emergency.” NYSEG crews have been out in force for several days, reconnecting power; grocery stores are gradually refilling their shelves; lines for gas stations that have been hindering traffic are beginning to slowly disappear as more deliveries are getting to the gas stations; residents are clearing trees and debris, and are starting to repair damage.
But for two local families, there is no ‘fixing’ or ‘repairing’ their losses; hopefully, there may someday be ‘coping.’ My heart aches for them.