Superstorm Sandy Devastates New York City, and Closes Its Parks
November 3, 2012

Superstorm Sandy Devastates New York City, and Closes Its Parks

Hurricane Sandy, now known as a once-in-a-generation storm, has caused incalculable damage to cities and towns along the eastern coast of the United States.  After brewing, building, and moving northeast in the Atlantic Ocean for days, Sandy hit land hard around 8 p.m. on Monday, October 29, just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The storm displaced thousands of people; destroyed buildings, boats, cars, and amusement piers; and devastated parks and woodlands throughout the region. 

In New York City, parks, playgrounds, and beaches are closed until further notice, owing to downed trees, loose branches, and potentially destabilized equipment. The Department of Parks and Recreation is updating its website regularly as it inspects sites and considers reopening them.  City buses and subways are not running, and New York City public schools are closed. 

Getting Outdoors in the Aftermath of Sandy or Any Storm

For children—and adults—the stress of a storm can be alleviated somewhat by focused activities.  It is also helpful to engage in some physical activity as soon as it is safe to do so.  Indeed, as the winds and rains carry on outside, a question at the top of kids’ and parents’ minds is: When can we get out of here, and when we do, what can we do with ourselves?  This is a good time to start a storm journal with pictures and text. Ask your kids some questions to get them started:

  • What would we be doing right now if we were outside? 
  • What does the storm sound like? 
  • What do you think it looks like in your favorite park or playground? 
  • What do these places typically look like, and what are some of your fondest memories from there?

When the storm passes, an adult should first do a reconnaissance of the local area to check for downed power lines, dangling branches, and other hazardous conditions. If the sidewalks are secure, take children outdoors to witness the sheer force of nature. Bring a camera, and discuss observations that can later be recorded in the aftermath section of the journal. 

  • Are there are a lot of leaves or branches on the trees or in the streets? 
  • What color is the sky? 
  • Are the clouds moving swiftly or slowly? 
  • What types and how many birds are out? 

Do not go into any parks or playgrounds, and avoid sidewalks along park and playground perimeters especially if trees are hanging overhead. Even from a safe distance, the effects of the storm will be visible. 

After burning some energy with a walk or scoot around the neighborhood, you could collect branches or sweep leaves—and then grab the colored chalk and draw on the sidewalks, making Monet-like watercolors that are blurred due to the moisture. Bring a jump rope or a pogo stick outside and hold some jumping contests. 

Rejuvenating Your Kids, Yourself, and Parks

In the days following the storm, revisit the same route and note any changes for the family’s official record. When your local park reopens, begin a journal entry that chronicles the condition of the park and its subsequent rebirth. Check with the Parks Department to see if you can join a volunteer effort to clean the park up or plant new trees come spring. Nurturing your favorite park is a wonderful way to connect with nature and feel pride in shared ownership of a cherished resource. 

What activities do you recommend during and after a storm? 


July 18, 2014 (3)
“I don’t know how crazy this [trip] is—I’ve never done this before!” she says, slightly exasperated by my question.
March 24, 2013 (6)
I want kids to get out in nature so they can enjoy all its benefits. Not so they will suffer extra lung damage.
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Tip of the Day

Walk a block: After dinner, head out for a short family walk around your neighborhood. What signs of life do you see?

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