The city of Revere is in recovery mode as it continues its cleanup efforts after Monday’s tornado. But beyond the business of cleanup are the emotions storm victims are feeling. I was on the scene as soon as the storm hit and returned the next day to get a deeper sense of how lives have changed.
I’m in Peggy Cardone’s backyard on Taft Street, which was badly hit. Branches, strips of siding and chunks of splintered wood are piled up where her daughter’s tomato plants and peppers once grew.
"She had a garden under all that rubble," Cardone said. "And plants, beautiful flowers. This yard looked so amazing a couple days ago. And the kids in the neighborhood would be in this pool every night."
That pool is now deflated, with pieces of their neighbor’s porch floating in a shallow puddle. A portable basketball hoop is on the ground, under pieces of siding. About 12 feet away, to the right of the pool is a swing set. Everything, including the back of the house, is covered in a dark film. Peggy thinks it’s from the insulation from the Carrabeses’ roof, which is gone.
"The Carrabeses’ home is in my yard," she said.
Cardone is not that upset about the piles of debris or the dirt in her home. She is, however, heartbroken at the prospect of losing her neighbors because they may lose their home.
"My house has got damage but I think I can fix it, and it will get better," she said, stifling a sob. "But losing these two people is the most painful thing, because they’re not going to be able to rebuild, and it’s really, really sad. I’m sorry, I’ve been holding this in. I mean, they helped grow up our children. You know, they talk about a tribe — that’s what this neighborhood is like."
That bond is easy to sense as I walk around. Under the shards of glass and shreds of screen windows and gutter pieces, are nicely manicured lawns and gardens. As I turn the corner onto Revere Beach Parkway, I see the Carrabeses, Peggy’s long time neighbors. They’re asking Mayor Dan Rizzo if their house is going to be torn down.
"I can’t say," Rizzo told her.
"Because I can’t live here," Patty Carrabese replied. "We can’t live here."
Carrabese wants to know where they can get basic toiletries
"We have nothing," she said. "All we need is deodorant. We have absolutely nothing."
"Do me a favor, call my office, talk to Debbie West, tell her I told you to call," Rizzo told her. "We might be able to help you with some of the basics right now."
As the Carrabeses walk back to their front porch, Rizzo marvels that no one went to the emergency shelter the night before.
"It’s amazing, No. 1, that nobody took us up on that offer," he said. "They apparently found family or friends to stay with. But it has been a real textbook case in neighbor helping neighbor. And I think clearly that’s always been something that I’ve been very proud of as mayor of this city — is the way that we support one another here in Revere."
A sense of pride that is not without its due. And while it’s reassuring to hear an official list off resources and say everything will be alright — because that’s what city officials do in times of crisis — it’s hard to overlook the dazed expressions, the exhausted faces of people sitting on a porch of a home they can’t reenter.