The Smith Family of Staten Island

Caroline Conte
December 10, 2012

In November, Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeast of the United States.  In Staten Island, the area of Midland beach was particularly hard hit. The storm’s massive twenty foot waves and 14 foot surge changed neighborhoods, streets, homes and family relationships.

In Midland beach, many families can no longer live in their homes.  The Smith family is one of them. Thomas, 62, his wife Alice, 54 and their youngest child Thomas, 20 have lived in this area, on 904 Patterson Avenue since 1993.

The Smith family decided not to evacuate due to their two beloved cats, Simba, a male tabby cat and Snowy, a persian female angora cat. While they were watching television together, Alice, Thomas and their 20 year-old son nearly died when the wave surged into their living room, through the already-open bay window. They were expecting something, but they have never imagined it could have been so huge. They almost drowned. The water reached their chins but they had to save their two cats. The only reason why they decided to stay at home on that night, their two cats could not have disappeared, taken away by the terrifying waves.

They climbed to the second floor, where they stayed three never-ending days, before being saved by their nephew. Simba and Snowy are safe but the father, Thomas, who already had kidney disease, broke his ribs. Once safe on the second floor, he decided to return in the living room, trying to negotiating the muddy water, to get back his wife’s lungs’ machine and medicine. He failed.

Alice, who is facing a third bout of lung cancer, lost her prized christmas tree.  She was supposed to be in hospital for holidays so she decided to prepare it very early for her son and husband. She is not in hospital yet, she is still trying to fix and clean her house. Above all, she is looking for little objects, parts of her life like pictures that could help her in overcoming a whole life drama.

Thomas and Alice moved to Thomas’ sister’s house in Staten Island too. But they visit their own house everday. While Thomas, the son, takes care of Simba and Snowy at his aunt’s place, Thomas, the father, tries to fix everything that has been damaged in his house. Alice spends her time looking at the few knickknacks that survived, a porcelain angel, a plastic doll or an old trophy. She knows that they are toxic now because of the mold but she wants to hold on to them just a little longer. She decided to pile them up in her backyard. Sometimes, she finds something new, something that she was sure she had lost, a decoration from her christmas tree, for example, stuck in one of the neighbors’ trees.

Hurricane sandy may have destroyed the Smith families home, washed away their cherished items and caused much sadness but one thing it never can took away from them is their unity, love and unwavering determination to repair their beloved home.Thomas senior and his son enjoy spending quality time together repairing their home while Alice recovers and cleans family heirlooms.Together they care for the many stray cats whom they love dearly as well as their own two cats Simba and Snowy. 

A month has passed and the repairs are near completion. The new walls, floors and furniture will be put in soon, the family hopes to be back in their new home for Christmas as well. Once the home is done, Thomas junior plans to devote his free time helping others rebuild their homes helping them look not to the past but to a brighter new start in life.

6 Responses to “The Smith Family of Staten Island”

  1. I happen to know this family very well.If any person can overcome a disaster and adapt to a situation, it is Thomas Sr.He is possibly the strongest and most fearless man i met in my life.Our prayers are with you….Love you Dad…Gena and Riz

  2. Gena Smith says:

    I know this family very well.If anyone can overcome a disaster and adapt to an unfortunate situation, it is Thomas Sr. I have known him my whole life and undoubtly he is the strongest and most fearless man i ever met……Our prayers are with you. Love you Dad, Gena and Riz

  3. melissa smith delillo says:

    Dad, Alice and my Lily brother Thomas…..not a day has gone by that I didn’t think of you all….I know we are estranged from eachother for many years now….but I always get in touch to make sure you guys are ok.
    I love you all….life’s too short…..im greatful you are all alive…
    Love you, your daughter/stepdaughter/sister…
    Melissa Smith Delillo

  4. melissa smith delillo says:

    Dad, Alice and my Lil brother Thomas…..not a day has gone by that I didn’t think of you all….I know we are estranged from eachother for many years now….but I always get in touch to make sure you guys are ok.
    I love you all….life’s too short…..im greatful you are all alive…
    Love you, your daughter/stepdaughter/sister…
    Melissa Smith Delillo

  5. ALICE says:

    ASKING HOW YOU FOUND THIS STORY ?

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