The journey home allowed time for introspection

By Susan Farewell
November 12, 2012

Story by Susan Farewell

No one should be familiar with the feeling of returning to your home after being evacuated for a storm and not knowing what you’ll find. But I (along with family members and neighbors) have coped with the feeling more times than I care to remember.

We live a block away from the water in Westport, CT, in a beautiful home that won a historic preservation award for the rehabilitation we did of it back in 2000. In the last two years we’ve been evacuated twice and in both cases, we fled to higher ground.

The morning after each storm, we returned to our house. With Irene, I was very distracted, because an enormous number of “lookie lous”  had inundated the neighborhood to see the damage. My anger towards them replaced the apprehension I was trying my best to control. But with Sandy, only residents could enter the area and there was nothing between me and the raw feeling of fear.

We had to walk half a mile because they weren’t letting cars past a certain point. With every step I took, I was steeling myself for whatever I might find.

I kept reminding myself that whatever we might lose was just material stuff. We were okay and that was all that mattered. Then we turned the corner and there she was. Our house in full view. A fence was askew and there was still water in the street in front of it, and later we’d discover some damage in the crawlspace below. But considering all that nature had thrown against it our house itself looked more beautiful than ever.  My house is a survivor, and I am proud of it.

Susan Farewell is the founder and editor-in-chief of, an international travel concierge service. A former travel editor at Condé Nast, her work has appeared in numerous publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Gourmet, Cooking Light, Travel and Leisure, Outside, Metropolitan Home, McCall’s, Child and Bride’s. She also writes for newspapers such as The New York Times and The New York Post and is the author of several books.