How My Neighbors Freed Me From Sandy

How My Neighbors Freed Me From Sandy


s-20121030_163324_487-largeAmong the 11 million others who went dark during Sandy, and the tens of millions who were battered and frightened by the storm, and the swaths of neighborhoods still lying under tons of branches, water and debris, ours is just one story.

We’re not likely to forget it anytime soon.

Ours has never been just a street, but more like an enclave. Built at the top of an intimidating hill in the town of Dobbs Ferry, NY, the first houses date back to the 1920s, when, real estate lore has it, an eccentric professor bought up all the land, intending to create an intellectual community. He had built a few of the houses, and started a few more, when the Depression hit. You can still see the skeletal foundations of the abandoned plan in the surrounding woods.

We are not necessarily intellectuals, but we are a community. The only way in or out of The Hill is a steep winding road — one that breaks all the zoning rules, but remains because it predates them, too. It serves as a barrier against the world — you have to know we are here in order to find us — and gives us the feeling of being in this together. We know each other’s names, and each other’s business. We hold impromptu barbeques, well-planned block parties, and (usually) elaborate Halloween celebrations.

We also — now we know — come together during hurricanes.

The first big tree hit Paul and Erica’s at dinnertime Monday night, cracking the brick wall that anchors the back of the house, shaking the foundation so hard that a pipe came dislodged beneath the kitchen sink. In quick succession came Cathy and Javier, who were not in their bedroom when a tree lopped off a corner the roof above it, then Bill and Eileen, whose towering elm sideswiped their daughter’s room and flattened their car. READ MORE