Jeff and Sidney's birthday's are one day apart so Jeff had this grand idea to surprise Sidney for her 13th birthday with a trip to New York. We planned it for a little over a month.....and then hurricane Sandy hit the East coast. So we changed our plans just a little bit. Our trip turned into a sight seeing / humanitarian mission. We told her that we were going to take her out of school for the day and take her up to City Creek in Salt Lake for some shopping and lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. She was thrilled! I had secretly packed her bag the night before and changed all her dance and violin lessons and already picked up her homework from her teachers. We picked her up at school and off we went.
We drove right past downtown and headed for the airport. She didn't even clue in! When we were almost to the airport, a big ol' plane took off just right above us and she was like, "Hey look at that plane! It's so close to us!" We just kept on driving to the airport. Then she realized that we were pulling into the airport. She said, "Hey....... what the heck, this isn't City Creek! What are we doing at the airport?" I said, "Well Sid, we were thinking that maybe it might be funner to skip having lunch in Salt Lake and instead have dinner in Manhattan." She then finally turned around and saw the luggage in the back - and she still didn't believe that we were going to New York. She thought we were just dropping Jeff off to leave on a business trip. We kept telling her that we really were going to New York but she didn't believe us! We parked, went into the check in desk, got our tickets, went through security, got on the plane and took off - all the while she kept asking where we were really going!
We even landed in JFK, got our luggage, checked in our hotel and went out to dinner and she still didn't believe that she was in New York. She felt dumb when she found out that all the aunts uncles, grandparents, teachers, etc knew about the trip and she had NO clue.
The next day was Jeff's birthday. We went shopping on 5th Avenue, went to the American Girl Doll store and KB Toys. Sights like the Statue of Liberty were still closed from the storm but we did get to see the Christmas tree that they had just brought in to put up at Rockefeller Center.
Then we had lunch at Serendipity.....
We walked out of Serendipity and saw Paul Rudd ( I didn't really want to get up there and take my picture with him so I just snapped one of the lady who was standing in front of me)......
Then we went to the New York City library. I think it's such a pretty building! Jeff had never been in it so we walked all through it.
Then we went to Dylan's Candy Store.
Then we hit St. Patricks Cathedral.
And then finally to dinner.
The next day was Sidney's birthday. We got up early and a friend of ours that lives in Staten Island picked us up. We drove out with him to Staten Island and and met several other people there who we went shopping with at Lowe's. We bought several indoor safe propane heaters, brooms, rakes, shovels, mold remover, bleach, and tons more. Then we went over to Kohl's and bought air mattresses, bras, underwear, boxers, briefs, kids underwear and socks. We took it all to one of the worst hit areas in Staten Island where a relief site was set up. So many people had dropped off food, clothes, coats, blankets, dog food, cleaners, water, etc. Lots of victims came to get supplies that they needed.
It was cold and most of the people still didnt' have electricity!
This area was buried under 17 feet of water. You can tell by looking at this house how the water damaged the area. Roofs were buckled, doors were hanging off their hinges, furniture and personal belongings were scattered all about the area.
Yes, it was sad to see all of their furniture and such destroyed but the heartbreaking part was seeing photos and journals ruined and laying in the yards and streets. There was one area where people were hanging photos on a line so the owners could claim them.
Jeff went and tore out some walls in some homes. You could stand in the middle of the street and smell the mold from the homes. All of the houses that I looked in had been stripped down to the studs and sub floor. They all but basically had to start from scratch. There were so many things that I wanted to take pictures of. Cars out in the fields all covered in mud, cars hanging off of retaining walls, photos in the street, people sitting on what was left of their porches with looks of utter despair on their faces, but I felt like I was invading enough so I didn't. It made us feel really great to help out what we could.