If you live in the beach area of Fairfield, CT you remember it all to well. It was late October 2012, we were glued to the TV, obsessively following the path of Hurricane Sandy. The debate of staying in our home was solved when a police officer knocked on our door and, very politely, recommended that we leave or provide him with names of our family members. We quickly packed up, got in the car, and took one last glance at our home before driving away; we had no idea what we would be coming back too.
What we came back to was a giant mess, waist deep water and months worth of clean up from the apparent destruction, it was probably the best outcome we could have hoped for. Four years later, as I drive the streets of our neighborhood, I can’t help but wonder, “when did the real destruction from Sandy occur?” Once a neighborhood predominantly of smaller homes and traditional capes, our streets have been transformed into over sized homes that max out their lot coverage and towering 3-½ stories in the air. We see our neighborhoods being overbuilt and our landscapes turned into hardscapes. We are seeing trees cut down and fences going up. Our water and park views have become views of house after house; one bigger then the next and sometimes no more than 10 feet away (perhaps future condos?).
As I take a step back from this new, and disheartening, reality I can’t help but think that the true destruction didn’t happen during Sandy, it happened after, and continues to happen. We are building homes that are not sustainable (they will have no appeal to future generations), we are building homes that consume more energy then our older homes, we are building homes that don’t, and can’t, take advantage of the sun for energy or light, and we are building these new homes using materials and applications that are not only hazardous to our health but contribute to and accelerate climate change.
As I watch my daughter play in our backyard, I wonder what the landscape will look like in a few years. I wonder if all the great sunlight she gets to play in will turn into darkness and shadows and I wonder what it will look like some day when she is standing in my shoes. The only thing I can tell her, for now, is “Go play…..Daddy and Mommy got your back, we are aware, and we are doing everything we can to protect what’s truly valuable.”