BY LAUREN HENRY
When storm survivor Amber Scott walked through the door of a Greeneville restaurant Monday night, her mother, Shari Scott, immediately pulled her close.
The embrace between mother and daughter was long.
Amber Scott had returned home to the open arms of her waiting family, a vast departure from the destruction of Superstorm Sandy.
The family held a welcome-home party for Scott at Salsas Mexican Restaurant.
It was an intimate moment of family and "almost family" to celebrate Scott's survival and homecoming.
Amber Scott has lived on Staten Island, one of the boroughs of New York City, for the past two years, and survived the massive storm that pummeled the East Coast -- but it was a close call.
Scott, a South Greene High School graduate, barely made it out of her basement apartment as the near 12-foot floodwaters and storm surge began to pour in around her.
FAMILY'S WHAT MATTERS
"It puts into perspective that things don't matter, but family does," Scott said, when she made it safe-and-sound back to her hometown.
She lost everything in the flood except her dog and her cell phone.
The power has still not returned to her Staten Island neighborhood.
"I just want to take a deep breath and sit with my family," she said Monday night in an interview with The Greeneville Sun.
Since the storm, she has been living with friends and relying on the generosity of others.
Still, they weren't family.
"It's easier to start over when you have family that supports you," she said.
Her family wanted nothing more than to bring their oldest daughter to the safety of Greene County.
"She is definitely going to stay to put her life together and heal," her mother, Shari Scott, said.
Her grandmother was open about her desire to have her granddaughter not only visiting, but living in Greene County.
"We are doing our best not to encourage her too much to stay," Norma Howard admitted.
"She'll do what she wants," said grandfather Jim Howard.
Amber Scott's independent spirit is no secret to her family.
Her grandmother recalled that, when Amber was only five-years-old, she informed everyone around that one day she was going to live in a big city, and that big city was Chicago.
"I don't know why a five-year-old would choose Chicago," Norma Howard said.
Somewhere along the process of growing into a young woman, Amber decided on the Big Apple rather than the Windy City as her future home -- but she kept true to her promise to be a big-city girl.
PLANS TO RETURN
She said she plans to return to New York.
"It would be proving that I can start over," she said.
"Maybe five miles closer in," she thought aloud.
"Maybe the other side of the island," her father, Jerry Scott, said.
"Maybe the middle of the island."
Scott is on leave from her job at Sears as she puts her life back together at home.
TOUGH TRIP HOME
Getting home proved more difficult than anticipated.
"There is no gas," Scott said, echoing the problem facing so many on the East Coast.
Scott said she and a friend were able to find enough gas to make it into Pennsylvania, where she flew out of Philadelphia and into Knoxville.
The final leg of the journey was the drive into the restaurant on the Asheville Highway with her father and sister to meet the rest of the family.
They greeted her with hugs, tears, flowers, and relief to see her safe and sound.
"She's tough," her father said.