Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast in late October this year. In storm terms, it was “only” a Category 1, but the damage was massive. The latest tally surpassed $65.6 billion and, unfortunately, several hundred people lost their lives. With that, Sandy is behind only Hurricane Katrina in its impact.
A native Detroiter was caught smack-dab in the middle of the storm and was one of those hardest hit. Having moved to the East Coast to start a business a few years back, Devita Davison lost everything when the huge waves swept through her South Freeport, Long Island neighborhood.
Her neighborhood was under a mandatory evacuation before the worst of the storm hit. So, she threw a few things in her car and headed back home … to Detroit. Talking to neighbors, she found out everything she owned, other than what was quickly put in her car, was lost, including her home and business …The Southern Pantry Company.
The Southern Pantry Company was a neighborhood store in Brooklyn that had become a part of building the community … filling the store with food produced by local artisans.
In an open thank you letter to the city she loves, she describes what happened and what it means to be back here, trying to rebuild her life.
MY THANK YOU LETTER TO DETROIT
When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, the impact that my neighborhood, South Freeport in Long Island, New York took was devastating. Waves 20-foot waves pounded up, over and through my community and with great intensity rushed down our streets.
Houses were ripped from foundations, trees tumbled like toys and boats sailed through the flooded streets like ghost ships. Inside my home, everything floated – including the refrigerator, stove, washing machine and dryer. I suffered a great loss, but I’m thankful and I know I will recover.
There are times when all of us are challenged by events, and it is how we respond that shows the character and humanity of us all.
While I suffered some losses, I am grateful that neither I, nor my neighbors lost our lives. With so many residents left homeless after the devastation, I’m thankful I’ve been able to temporarily relocate back to my hometown and stay with my parents until I get back on my feet.
It’s going to take a while to get everything back to normal; but I’m a DETROITER (born and raised) and if I know anything, I know how to work hard and fight back!
Since returning home, I’ve heard from motivated Detroiters who are taking action – not asking for permission and executing creative ideas that are redefining Detroit.
I’m seeing the reverse exodus back to downtown and that many neighborhoods are starting to even look similar to New York addresses like Chelsea or TriBeCa.
I’m feeling the love and sense of community of entrepreneurs, grass-roots organizations and socially progressive start-ups that have been exposed to the hardships of this city and refuse to let anyone come in that isn’t sensitive to the city’s context.
But most importantly, I’m understanding it’s not necessarily about how hard you work, but where you put your effort that counts, more than anything else.
I’ve surrounded myself by people with an authentic desire to build community and solve problems in Detroit. Their invention, innovation and efficiency have shown me that there are plenty of opportunities that exist in Detroit – opportunities you have to mold, build and create.
Detroit may not be for everyone, but for those artistic, handy, creative, self-starters, motivated and self-sufficient individuals, it is a great place to be and for me, a great place to start over!
Thank you Detroit for helping me to realize that life has so much to offer and to take each day as it comes. Because after every storm, there is a rainbow and every burden carries its own blessing.
Surely all will be well in time. Even birds sing after a storm and so will I! So will I!
While others have tried to move on back on the block in Brooklyn, Devita has come home and is determined to give it a go here. On her transition back to Detroit, she says, “I’m excited to be relocating to Detroit. I’m bringing my southern hospitality, my passion for food artisans and my commitment to the community all together.”