October 31, 2013 | 1588 views
Sandy ceremony lights the way home for displaced residents
Anniversary event reflects on the past, looks to the future
“I was having dinner at my girlfriend’s house, and all of a sudden her lights went out,” recounted West End resident Victoria Bianchini. “We went outside — she lives close to the ocean — and there was a guy in a full yellow Gorton’s Fisherman slicker, saying, ‘The ocean’s coming over the berm!’ We started waking [back], and by the time we got to Beech Street it was a river, and it was moving fast. That’s when I got scared. I knew this was serious.”
The one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy left many Long Beach residents reliving the stress and anxiety they felt that night. But for a short time on Tuesday night, residents gathered to reflect on the past and share their hopes for the future.
“Tonight we’re showing that, one year later, after all that we’ve been through, we’re still standing together as one community,” said City Council President Scott Mandel. “I’m honored to be part of this unbreakable Long Beach community.”
To commemorate the anniversary of Sandy, Project 11561 and the city held a candlelight ceremony at Kennedy Plaza. After city officials spoke and a blessing was read, residents put lanterns scribbled with messages of hope in the fountain. Five hundred lanterns had been ordered for the event, but City Manager Jack Schnirman said that at least 2,000 people showed up. Participants were also given blue electric candles, and after the lanterns were lit, there was a procession to the boardwalk, where the crowd gathered once again to “make peace” with the ocean.
“Life is like a river,” said resident Debbie Nardozi, who offered the blessing at Kennedy Plaza. “It may appear glossy and still on the surface, while the undercurrents are constantly in motion — and we certainly saw some undercurrents. Change sometimes happens gently, like a ripple. And other times we’re navigating our way over a waterfall.”
Mandel and Schnirman both spoke to the crowd, reminiscing on the strength of the people of Long Beach in the days after the storm. They commended all of the volunteers and recalled how everyone in the city banded together to help their neighbors.