New Yorkers Take Pride in Resilience, Preserve Scars from Sandy

As New York and New Jersey continue to recover from Hurricane Sandy, some residents choose to preserve the watermarks left on their homes and businesses as a way to commemorate their survival.
October 29, 2013, 12pm PDT | Alek Miller
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"For some people bruised by the hurricane, the waterline has become something of a signature of survival. Most building owners and homeowners have understandably wiped away theirs as they have repaired and rebuilt what the waves gulped up, trying to forget. But quite a few, as part of their formulas to reconcile with the storm, have chosen to live with that waterline, not always knowing why," writes N.R. Kleinfield. 

"At Meade's restaurant in the South Street Seaport, customers hunched over the busy bar, washing down beers beneath spindly shadows cast through the windows. Easy to spot the waterline here. The rush of water chewed away the paint on the wall up to above five feet, leaving a smudged surface. So it remains, and will remain. Printed on the wall is what it signifies."

"[Owner Lee] Holin lived nearby in Chinatown and was evacuated from his home. A year later, he still feels the congruent traumas. 'I was homeless and in financial ruin in one shot,' he said. 'I really thought I was going to move back in with my parents at 37 years old. It has definitely affected my psyche. I’m scared of going out of business for any reason. Things I can’t even think of.'"

"Outside Meade's stands a chalkboard, the kind where you advertise Happy Hour or a meat loaf special. Months ago, a bartender scribbled a defiant message that remains intact: 'What doesn't kill us makes our drinks stronger. Nice try, Sandy! Long live the Seaport!'"

In this multimedia piece, Kleinfield's stories of preserving signs of damage are accompanied by audio clips of residents and business owners describing the significance the six-foot high stains hold for them. 

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Published on Monday, October 28, 2013 in The New York Times
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