Here at PEOPLE, we tell stories. Other people's stories-heroes, movie stars, criminals, survivors. This week much of the magazine is devoted to the stories of heartbreak and hope that emerged from the wreckage of Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.

This storm really did hit home. As it approached, some PEOPLE staffers were ordered to evacuate their homes. When it was over, more than two dozen were left without power, some without water. In the following days, others endured endless commutes to reach our Manhattan office to begin work on this week's issue. Some were forced to leave homes that had no light or heat; others invited friends stuck in flood zones to bunk down with them.

Reporting the story was no easier. Reporter Nicki Weisensee Egan convinced National Guard members to escort her to hard-hit areas in New Jersey. Diane Herbst, whose past assignments include reporting on the antics of the Jersey Shore cast, repurposed her Seaside Heights connections to capture moving accounts of despair and rescue.

There is a hierarchy of misery in events like this. Losing your cable service is not like losing your home. Nobody on this staff lost their life. But the stories we tell in this issue have a particular resonance; they are about people we could, and do, know personally, and about now-devastated neighborhoods where we grew up and raised families.

But recover we clearly will. When her power came on after six days in the dark, senior editor Allison Adato left her Greenwich Village home and headed to a local farmer's market for much-needed groceries. Instead, she found an emergency staging area for power crews brought in from all over America-Kansas, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia. "I thanked a guy from Ohio for helping us get our power back on, and he said, 'No problem. I got a trip to New York-I want to see it with the lights on!'"

LARRY HACKETT, MANAGING EDITOR