John and Barbara McCauley’s bungalow still sits just yards from Michigan Street beach. As Hurricane Sandy raged the night of Oct. 29, the ocean flowed down their block like a mad river, taking their front porch with it. Yet not a drop of water invaded their home.
They and their West End neighbors, though, were buried in sand that was once the dunes that were created to protect their streets and property.
“The way it was going it was beginning to look a bit iffy,” Barbara recalled about the height of the storm lined up with a full-moon tide.
While John gave Patch a tour of their home of 40 years last Friday, before it was repowered that evening, he said that Barbara started to take covet porcelain pieces from the china closet to their attic. Although they didn’t know it at the time of the storm, the dunes probably saved their home from massive flooding. “I think that’s what saved us,” Barbara speculated.
Once the storm settled, John’s Hyundai station wagon ended up in the middle of their sand covered block, a scene that ended up as a front-page photo
of The New York Times. Visually, at least, Michigan Street appeared to be the hardest hit in the city.
During the eleven days they went without power and heat, the McCauleys found the greatest problem was the unknown. With no phone, Internet or television, the world beyond the West End was cut off to them. Later, during last weekend’s cleanup of their street, John’s car was towed away, its whereabouts unknown.
What the couple discovered while stuck in their neighborhood, though, was how benevolent people can be after a life-altering storm.
“People have been great,” said John, as an emotional lump formed in his throughout.
He noted how a random father and son from Nashville, possibly from a church organizations that volunteers in storm-ravaged areas, brought him and his wife candy and soda and Band-Aids, and one of his friends drove from Putnam County to give him a generator. And John emphasized the Knights of Columbus lodge on West Beech Street, where lodge members gave people everything from hot food to cleaning supplies.
“I never knew that people could be so great,” he added.
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