I found out about Cowbird and their partnership with Sandy StoryLine through a public radio listserv I’m on; they sent out a message a couple weeks ago looking for volunteers to help people tell their Hurricane Sandy stories. I went to the instructional workshop on a blustery, lonely Friday in an unheated chapel, and when I stood waiting for my train back home a girl waved at me. I recognized her from her red wool coat, which I’d admired standing out amongst the dark pews.
“Hey! Weren’t you just in that . . .”
“Yes! Hi! Hi.”
We talked until my stop and decided to keep in touch; two days later we drove to Staten Island together to talk to the volunteer organizers and knock on strangers’ doors.
We met Joseph later on in our day. He was raking his yard when we approached. “You want my story? Sure, sure, I’ll show you what happened.” He drew a line with his finger against the brick to show how high the water had gone. “You see that storage unit at the end of the street?” he asked. “That holds a lot of sports gear. Used to be right off the baseball field, six blocks away.”
Everyone’s homes are being torn up — their carpets were soaked with water and mud, their hardwood floors warped and destroyed. Sheetrock walls are being cut and removed to prevent mold. Everyone we talked to spoke of all the pictures they’d lost. Everyone we talked to sighed and shrugged it off. “But you gotta rebuild, right? You just gotta rebuild.”
Joseph’s story: here.