The Hurricane & The Planner

I never in my entire life thought that I would ever experience or be affected by such a devastating circumstance. I’m Laura, I’m a Wedding Planner & Blogger and I live in Long Beach, New York. I wanted to write this post not because I want to gain any sort of sympathy or have a poor me attitude ~ Honestly, I live on the 2nd Floor of this house & we didn’t lose anything. My car was under water, but then again that’s what insurance if for & I got a new car three weeks later after the storm.

But what I did want to write about was the emotions behind this terrible storm that hit my amazing seaside town & how it has brought SO MANY things into perspective for me. And I think there is something comforting/liberating when one can express themselves on a public forum.

So here is our story ~ My fiance & I decided that we were going to ride this puppy out ~ So we stayed. I for one have never in my entire life felt more terrified as every 15 minutes starting at 8pm we checked the water quickly creeping up our stairs outside. As the night fell our street became a rushing ocean before our eyes. The water from what we could tell had reached at least 5 feet & I knew that this was nothing like Irene 2011. This was a monster of a storm & as the power went out everything got real ~ QUICK!

Sitting by candlelight we looked at each other wondering when & at what point the water was going to stop rising. We discussed going up into our attic at some point. I personally comforted myself with a glass of wine & some Bob Marley tunes on Pandora…but the reality was that we should have evacuated & we knew we would never do that again. Occasionally we would signal with our flash light to our neighbors that too decided to weather the storm that we were OK. I remember thinking at one point “Maybe now would be a good time to learn Morse code…you know just in case”.

There was a very ominous moment when maybe we were in the eye of the storm or it had just passed, but the full moon shined so bright we didn’t need any flashlights to see what was happening outside. A rushing rapid was only but 2 steps away from the main platform of our deck ~ Large amounts of debris & huge pieces of who knows what just rushed right before our very eyes. It was really calm at that point. We couldn’t believe our eyes & for a moment I thought “This is a Beautiful Disaster”…I couldn’t stop looking. We were both mesmerized by what was happening on our block. Cars completely covered in water, we couldn’t see anything but water & people looking out in disbelief.

Around 10pm we realized that the water had stopped rising and we could actually try & sleep ~ This whole ordeal started around 7pm when our lights went out & lasted for 3 hours, but felt like 3 very long & high anxiety days. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really sleep, I was up every hour just checking the water levels outside our window making sure we were still in the clear so to speak. 3am the water started coming down. 5am I could see sidewalk again.

At 7am I couldn’t sleep & decided to venture out onto our block ~ What I was met with brought tears to my eyes. I walked over to my car.

It wasn’t the fact that I lost my car ~ It was just the overall feeling of watching people slowly coming out of their homes, assessing the damage to their homes, property & their memories. I’ve never had such a devastating feeling in the pit of my stomach. We decided to take a walk to the end of our block ~ Our Indiana Beach entrance…

Our lovely beach & dunes were gone ~ I really couldn’t believe my eyes

As a Wedding Planner ~ THIS I didn’t plan for ~ The level of destruction was mind blowing & I know it wasn’t only for Long Beach, many many towns & places were devastated. I’m not taking away from ANY of that. I’m just telling my story.

Here are a few images from a wonderful LBNY Photographer {SuperClearyPhoto} that has always had a heart for LB!

We lost our Boardwalk

Streets were covered in feet of sand

Some lost almost everything they owned & had to put it all curbside ~ And still some streets are filled with memories ~ And what a sad reminder

Ok so now what? We almost couldn’t even wrap our heads around what we needed to do. Where do we go? Power was out, the sewer system collapsed, no heat, water…the town was a total war zone, devastated & broken. We had no choice, we needed to leave & go stay with my parents {and continue to this very day ~ 16 Days Later}.

In the wake of this all I receive a text message from my event planner at our venue Bridgeview Yacht Club ~ Who’s location is mind you ON the water & in the neighboring town of Island Park that was hit just as bad as LB.

Our venue had of course been hit ~ This brought tears to my eyes ~ I thought not about us, but the many brides that were planning on getting married at this venue within the next 2 months & knew they couldn’t. Sure they could maybe reschedule to another date, but I can tell you one thing ~ It’s not an easy fete to re-coordinate all your vendors to work on another date. What if they were already booked? What if they simply can’t do it? What if their contract doesn’t allow for a natural disaster? There were so many thought that ran through my head.

The lovely Pier that I’m sure every bride wants to use for a photo op had been destroyed

I was reassured that by our wedding in February, 2013 the venue would be put back to it’s original luster & even better ~ But my heart still broke for all those Brides that had to reschedule or cancel their weddings all together in the Tri-State & New Jersey area. As someone who knows every in & out to putting a wedding together, it’s heartbreaking to contemplate all that these lovely brides would have to go through to make their most special day work out. I personally had two friends who’s wedding had to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Sandy. It was just so terribly sad to hear.

As the days have gone by what has come to light is that Long Beach has an overwhelming sense of community. Every time I drive in to grab a few more things from the house, check on the progress, meet with FEMA, etc. I cry. I get this overwhelming knot in my throat. This town that I love so very much looks like an apocalyptic town. Desolate & depressing. BUT it makes me want to come back home more than ever. To help local business rebuild again.

One of our friends owns a local BBQ Restaurant in the West End called SwingBelly’s BBQ

{Swings}

They were hit but not defeated ~ And to show their incredible sense of community not only are they providing a Thanksgiving Meal for the people in the neighborhood, but they’ve also partnered with another local favorite called Cafe Laguna to provide some warm meals in the Laguna‘s parking lot ~ Setting up a smoker & teaming up with Laguna‘s Italian specialties to keep the business going.

THIS is what it means to be a community ~ THIS is what it means to bring back life into a town that has been brought to it’s knees ~ And I’ve never felt more proud to say I’m part of this wonderful place ~ This place I call HOME

{Click Here for More Information}

I went home today ~ The streets are still filled

The town is still broken

Now for the perspective!

I learned that I knew nothing about devastation until now ~ I knew nothing about what it meant like to feel displaced ~ I now know that there are some really great people out there who work hard to rebuilt towns & homes ~ I know that my heart breaks for our friends who’ve lost their entire homes ~ I know that it will take a while to rebuild this town, but it will be done ~ I know that in a time of need that I can turn to our friends & family for utter support ~ I know that what we went through was a fraction of what others have gone through & more importantly others have lost tremendously.

I am so utterly grateful for what I have ~ I am grateful for the people in my life ~ I am thankful for the sense of positivity I continue or try to have on a daily basis ~ Despite the sadness around me right now

If we are unlucky & have to reschedule our wedding because our venue won’t be ready it’s OK ~ Because at the end of the day there are so many bigger things that people have lost or had to reschedule

Memories ~ Lives

My fiance & I are truly blessed to have each other & we both knew that going through this whole ordeal has made us an even stronger couple {if we ever even thought that was possible}

But this storm taught us that despite all the sadness & seeing people crying in the streets as they cleaned their homes that we ALL should have HOPE…And we all should work towards creating a more POSITIVE life for ourselves & those around us. To GIVE BACK & to BE THERE for each other ~ I am overwhelmed with emotion as I finish this post because I have such a new found respect for just humanity in general ~ One I never thought I could gain in a real perspective.

My heart continues to go out to those that have lost ~ continue to count their loses ~ And realize that they have to start their lives all over

I am humbled beyond belief

Thank you for giving me the opportunity & freedom to be able to speak from my heart

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