I'm so happy Jika Gonzalez, the creator of this piece, came to Staten Island to use her talents to tell the story of the Egers. Nothing I can say can add to what she's already captured. I asked her to tell her story and to share her thoughts since she followed the Egers (a four hour round trip every week from Manhattan's Upper west Side) and what it meant to her.
I was on assignment to tell a story about the rebuilding process in the aftermath of Sandy. The Egers were the first family I met on day six after the hurricane, and I just decided to go with it. I wasn't really sure what the story I was going to tell was about, but there was something about the Egers that I was drawn to. They are incredibly strong and positive and they had an amazing attitude towards their situation.
A lot of the stories that came out after Sandy were about the insurance companies and FEMA, but what I felt was so powerful about the Egers was their history with New Dorp Beach. This story is about the emotional loss, and while there is a huge financial burden on them I wanted the viewer to understand what the family was going through.This story is not about losing the house or material things, but about the process of dealing with losing a home where you build your life in. I am really grateful that the Egers were so open to share the incredibly difficult process.The Egers are natural leaders in their community, and the way they took on the rebuilding process is exemplary. Something incredible about the Egers and the New Dorp Beach community in general, was how everyone came together and helped each other out.The media coverage of Sandy has withered as it always does but the victims of Sandy are still dealing with both material and emotional losses, and they will for a very long time. I am currently working on a story about the effects of Sandy on undocumented immigrants, which is a story that I don't think we have hear enough of.
Sometimes telling other people's stories with real grace, dignity and compassion is leadership, too. Thanks, Jika!