A year after they became one of Superstorm Sandy’s most heartwarming stories of triumph over tragedy, the Everett childen of Randolph, N.J. say that even with the deep pain of losing their parents to the storm, “there's still so much life, and life is still so good.”
Last October 29, when Sandy struck the northeast coast, Rich And Beth Everett were trying to get home, driving their pickup truck with two of their sons in the back seat. The family owned a horse farm, and they had been making sure the horses were safe before the storm hit.
But they couldn’t make it home in time.
A sudden, powerful blast of wind pulled an entire 100-foot tall tree up by its roots. The tree toppled, crashing into the roof of the Everetts’ pickup truck. Rich and Beth died instantly.
But in the back seat, their 14 and 11-year-old sons, Theo and Pierce, got out with only minor cuts and bruises.
The oldest of the four Everett children, Zoe, was a 19-year-old Rutgers University student. When she got the call, she knew right away that it was up to her to raise her three siblings.
In the photo at right, Zoe is pictured with Theo.
"It's kind of funny,” Zoe told NBC’s Today Show. “It's kind of a weird situation that I feel so prepared almost. And no one can really be prepared for this kind of thing. But I'm just-- like, my parents raised me to be very independent. And same with my siblings. And we're very-- very self-sufficient kids. So it's definitely playing to our benefit.”
The first thing Zoe did was post a message on the web site Wish Upon A Hero, telling her family’s story. The charity group took action. The purpose of the web site is to use crowdfunding to help people in need. And that is exactly what happened.
Putting out a call for $5000 to help the Everett’s get by, the group saw $50,000 roll in.
Zoe is now the legal guardian of her two brothers and high-school age sister, Talia. She still relies on donated meals from neighbors to help feed them, but she is back in college.
“Without the community that we live in, without our family friends and our neighbors, there is just really no way we would have survived the year,” she told Today. “I don't know how we would’ve done it. They gave us so many good memories and it just proves how good people are.”
SOURCES: NBC Today, ABC News, CBS New York