What does devastation, abandonment or calamity look like? One only needs to take a look at the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to truly understand what these notions mean.
As a photographer, I try to convey emotions through my pictures, whether those emotions are happy or sad, overwhelming or not. However, pictures cannot do justice to the immensity of the disaster that hit so many areas of this country, so many neighborhoods and so many families. One needs to physically get to those areas to really comprehend what went on during those hours of horror.
Walking through the neighborhoods and stepping over debris and more debris, what once was the lifelong belongings of so many thousands of people, lifelong memories that will only continue to live inside their hearts, I could not help but be deeply touched by the kindness, the humility and the spirited attitude of almost every single resident I encountered. Most of them were eager to tell their story, eager to let the world know what happened to them and eager not to be forgotten. One resident once told me that he dreaded his life going back to “normal” again, he was going to miss the bond that was created among the neighbors during those intense first weeks. Deep inside he knew that his life would never be the same again, that his neighborhood was forever changed. And in the midst of their personal drama some residents would still worry about everybody else's well being, offering others either a drink or a cup of hot soup.
Every trip back to those areas takes me deeper and deeper into that horror story called Hurricane Sandy and every time I go back I create a separate chapter that is unfortunately just as gloomy as the previous one. The characters of that story however, are the true heroes and the most resilient people I have ever met and I hope that my pictures even slightly do them justice.
While our lives continue unharmed, the life of those residents remains at a standstill, while they still wait for a reply from an insurance company, a positive feedback from Fema, a little ray of light. That endless waiting game is what compels me to continue going back to those same places and same people in the hope to show them some support and to let them know that they will not be forgotten.
While non-profit organizations, local governments, charities can get help to the affected areas, I feel a duty as human being to offer my support to all those communities by using my work to raise some funds. I was warmly accepted by all residents everywhere I went and always allowed to photograph even during the most difficult times, and this is my time to give back to them. We can all contribute on a different level and make a small difference in everyone’s lives.
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