Skip to main content

"The Most Frightening Moment was the Concern That You Have for Your Children"

June 2015

 
 
The day Hurricane Sandy hit Scotch Plains, New Jersey was like any other day for Chantel and her family.
 

 The mother of seven got up at 3:30 a.m. to go to work, her children went to school. When she got home that night her mother called to ask about the storm, and suggested she go to the store for supplies. Chantel says, “We got extra things…I didn’t think it was gonna be as bad as it was to be honest. I didn’t think that if we lost power, it would be as long as we actually lost power.”

That night, as the storm intensified, she and her husband brought the children into their room. Outside was, “Heavy, heavy rain, rain to the point where you couldn’t really see.” In the morning, they started the first of what would be nearly 30 days without power. After a day or two, their house became so cold that, “inside the refrigerator the milk was frozen.” Chantel and her daughters had to sleep in their car to stay warm. She says, “We’d go out to the car, run the car with the heat on, and then shut it off, once the car got warm enough and that’s how we were able to fall asleep.”

They continued to do this until they were no longer able to buy gas. Her husband cooked three meals a day for the family on their grill, until they ran out of propane. Without power, they had to rely on cash to make purchases and the daily printed newspaper for information. In the end, she says the storm brought her family closer together, but it was a struggle. “We tried to make the best out of it. We were forced to make the best out of it.”

 

A police officer in uniform, leaning his back against the railing of his marine patrol boat.

Lt. Nick Katsikis, a 25-year veteran of Union County Police Department, was on duty with the Marine Unit the night of Hurricane Sandy. The morning of the storm, his unit moved their critical equipment to higher ground so they would be prepared to conduct rescue operations.

That night, he received a call from the marina where they had stored one of their boats on a trailer; the water was surging the wall and the boat was in danger of washing out to sea. He describes the power of the storm that night, “By the time we got there, I couldn’t get to the boat with the truck to hook it up, so I suited up in a [dry suit] and I had one of my other guys tether me off, that’s a line down to my suit, in case I got washed away. Well once I got out there and started to hook up with the line, the water was chest high…I couldn’t even stand up, that’s how strong [the current] was. The waves, they were breaking the sea wall. I’ve never seen anything like that before. It was one right after the other- it just kept coming.”

Lt. Katsikis emphasized the importance of having a game plan for your family, “You just don’t run into something and now you decide well this is what I’m gonna do. You know what happened [during Hurricane Sandy]. You know what you needed. You know people turned around and lost electricity, lost food, water – for days, months. Have something prepared for your family.”

Are you and your family prepared to spend four weeks without power? Sit down together and watch It Started Like Any Other Day to start the conversation.