NEW YORK -- On the eastern shore of Staten Island are the signs of a storm
“I see a lot of similarities,” said Dr. Christal Charbonnet.
Charbonnet is a New Orleans native, a graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Tulane University. She now works at two hospitals on Staten Island and watched Hurricane Sandy approach the borough.
“It was terrifying. I knew that, because Staten Island is surrounded by so much water, that we had the potential for extreme flooding, let alone the wind damage. This is a suburban area, so there’s plenty of trees and houses, so those two things were a major concern, and the storm was just incredibly huge,” she said.
Meanwhile, 1300 miles away, Gloria Decuir-Robert got a call at her Gentilly home. Charbonnet, her daughter, was on the line telling her she was going to stay put and ride out the storm.
“When I hung up the phone, I kind of started crying because I thought of the experience my family had during Hurricane Katrina,” Decuir-Robert said.
It’s an experience that devastated their Gentilly neighborhood and the city. Back then Charbonnet watched it on television while in medical school.
Now, the roles have reversed.
“I kept up with the news to see what the status was of the hurricane, and I just went to bed that night and woke up the next morning, and then I saw the devastation that took place on the island,” Decuir-Robert said.
Luckily, Charbonnet got through it unscathed even though the borough itself suffered the most storm-related deaths in New York City.
“Even though the death total was much greater here, but still, whether there’s 22 or 30 or just over a 1,000 here, the pain and heartache is the same,” Decuir-Robert said.
Also the same? The resiliency of both New Orleans and New Yorkers – something Charbonnet said she can attest to.
“This area will definitely rebuild,” she said. “Slowly, but it’ll get there.”