Sandy Minute-by-Minute: 6 PM Every Sunday, Fast Food Instead of Family Feast

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Bill Owens in front of the vacant lot in Midland Beach, Staten Island, where his house once stood.

In the scheme of things, Bill Owens, 61, considers himself lucky: a retired police detective, he and his family escaped without any injury from Sandy.

The two-family house where he lived with his wife, his daughter and her husband, their 2-year-old grandson, and his mother, did not do so well. It was just four blocks from the ocean on Staten Island's Eastern Shore. Sandy did so much damage, that Owens opted to tear it down and rebuild.

But what he really misses are the Sunday dinners. Every week, he would cook for between eight and 12 family members. The menu would range from roast chicken to pork chops to meat loaf, followed by pudding or strawberries and cream—whatever, he laughs, that was on sale.

“Everybody would come an hour ahead of time and they would exchange how their week was,” Owens recalled. “Their mother would always want to find out what was going on in their lives.”

After the storm, Owens moved with his wife, first to stay with their son and daughter-in-law nearby, and then into an apartment of their own. But it is not big enough to host large dinners.

“What we do for Sunday now is we order out, we either order pizza or fast food,” he said. “The routine is all screwed up.… In a short sentence, being displaced sucks.”

To listen to the whole piece about Owens, click on the audio player.