"I am stronger than the storm"
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..Part 2 of Brianna Quigley's interview (go back to part 1). Here, Brianna tells us more about the recovery process of Hurricane Sandy.
How prepared were you for the disaster and do you think
disaster preparedness is important?
My family and I were prepared for the storm the best we could be. I was raised with a grandmother who has been in Girl Scouting for over 60 years and my mom in Girl Scouts for about 34 years. The Girl Scout motto is Be Prepared! My mom is also a Red Cross nurse and instructor and my Aunt Kathleen has worked for the American Red Cross for over 15 years, so disaster preparedness is an understatement for my family. Since I can remember we have had disaster containers prepared and my mom would update and replace items regularly. They would be filled with clothing, medication, toiletries, cash on hand, food, water, flashlights, batteries, radios, blankets, pillows, personal needs items, and first aid kits. Even our dog, PJ, has his own supplies, food, and portable dog cage. When needed the containers would be removed from our bedrooms, and placed either by the front door or loaded into our van for an emergency evacuation if needed. Since Hurricane Sandy we now also own a portable generator, since we were out of power for 15 days. If preparedness was graded, we would receive an A, not an A+.
Disaster preparedness is extremely important! You can believe you're prepared but until you face a true natural disaster, you realize what else is needed. For example my parents have now added life preservers to the list. Some will say that early planning and preparedness for disasters are like being a Doomsday Preparer, but it’s nothing like that! We learned from Sandy that help will arrive, but you need to help yourself and others until it does. It may take up to 24-48 hours for the help to arrive. One other important thing would be to know your evacuation route. One wrong turn could place you and your family in danger.
How have you and/or your community rebuilt your town?
Presently we are still rebuilding our home, and will be for a while. Over half our town is flattened. Money is still very tight, but certain things are not as important and needed like I use to think they were. My community has been rebuilding extremely slowly due to insurance problems and red tape. The adults have more problems than anyone could want. A lot of people are still displaced, some people are still waiting for their homes to undergo demolition and some are waiting to be elevated. Almost half of the towns are still displaced and mobile homes reside in empty lots. My town has a few mottos: One Home at a Time, UB Strong, and UB Hope. Weekends are spent as a community helping one another. Immediately after Sandy,volunteers assisted us on the weekends with whatever was needed from demolition to property clearing, to rebuilding. We have been blessed to have Habitat for Humanity of Monmouth County, Ameri Corp, Gateway Church, Gigi Dorr from Jakabob’s, UB Hope, UB Strong, Raine and countless others help us.
I have had the honor to work with Habitat for Humanity on my own home. I have met some amazing people who are here every day to transform our house back into a home. I now have a different goal in my part of rebuilding- to help volunteer to entertain either at public events, and Sandy Projects as a character or princess from the company I work for, My Fairytale Dream. I have been extremely lucky and had the honor to be part of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2013, A World Habitat Day Event in Union Beach. I have helped collect prom dresses, Halloween Costumes, holiday supplies and decorations, food for the church pantry, and for our animal friends collected food and animal supplies. After the collection is complete we offer an event that people can come and received items needed for free. I am presently the 2013-2014 Key Club President, and National Honor Society Member, and a member of KHS Drama Club. We have had numerous free events for supplies, donations and entertainment. I am one of many to be the future of Union Beach, and we are UB STRONG!
Having survived a disaster, what is one piece of advice you can give to other young people going through disasters themselves?
The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone going through what I did during Hurricane Sandy is to keep calm, stay together, work together, and be prepared. Yes, you’re going to be afraid but, don’t forget to reach out to others, or pick up the phone and call 2nd Floor. Disasters are the scariest thing you are ever going to go through. 2nd Floor hotline has trained people to help you and give you ideas for referrals if you need to seek out more help. Remember you are not alone. Work together, be a team, you can’t change what happened with the disaster, but you can how to react and recover from it.