On Wednesday, November 21, Bernard Foster was surveying his property at 550 Millwood Road, with an eye toward the future. A representative from his insurance company was on site, assessing the damage inflicted during Hurricane Sandy. A total of four humongous trees fell on top of the house, miraculously missing the invaluable occupant within.
At about 6:30 p.m. on the eve of the Hurricane, Foster was fortuitously preparing dinner in the kitchen, when he heard an extraordinarily loud noise. “I had an unexpected guest,” Foster noted with a grin. After he realized what had transpired and how lucky he had been, Foster began searching for a flashlight. Fortunately, his bed was untouched so he lay down to rest. “I slept soundly,” he recalled.
Foster had called the police on his cellphone as had his two sons, who asked them to check on their father. First responders were unable to reach him due to downed power lines and blocked roads.
The next day, Foster, an intrepid 89-year-old man trudged up the hill behind his house to visit his next door neighbors, the de Stefanis family. Francesca de Stefanis had invited him to come over before the hurricane hit. He answered, “Don’t worry, I’m fine,” de Stefanis related. When he appeared at her door on Tuesday morning, she prevailed upon him to spend the night –with warmth provided by friendship and a generator. The neighbors have been close for many years continuing the friendship first established by de Stefanis’s in-laws who had previously owned her home.
Mario de Stefanis rigged a sturdy rope to facilitate the journey through the woods. The next day they descended to gather Foster’s precious possessions and clothing.
This veteran of the Second World War witnessed destruction far greater than this as a member of the Eighth Air Force. Today, rebuilding is foremost in his mind. He has resided here since 1973 and truly values the community. “I love the library and the senior center,” Foster said. He is eager to resume his train rides to and from the city to partake of the opera, Philharmonic and museums.