I’ve been caught off guard by several people who have expressed their concern for me regarding the Sandy aftermath. I’m 3,000 miles away in (albeit) soggy Seattle, in a dry house with power. Concern for me?
Of course I’m thinking of everyone there on a daily basis and read the Facebook updates regularly. Olivia has shown me pictures of friends’ houses with tree branches through roofs, and I know first-hand (after Hurricane Andrew) that most people on my block in NJ probably spent the night of the storm knee-deep in their basements with wetvacs, hopelessly fighting the rivers of water bursting through their foundations.
I’ve been reading about the long gas station lines, and the jubilations when another area gets power switched on. I’ve seen the pictures of devastation. And of course I’ve read the heartbreaking stories.
The other night, yet another friend asked me how I was doing as a result of the storm. “All those stories,” she said. “It must be terrible knowing so many people there, and everything they are going through. I want to cry every time I read those stories.”
I agreed that the stories were often sad. “But here’s what you don’t understand about the people there,” I said. “They will give you the shirt off their backs to help you if you need it.” I was completely overwhelmed by this in the aftermath of 9/11. Neighbours and friends banding together to cook me food, a car dealer who created a new key for Arron’s truck so they could drive it out of the commuter lot where he had parked it, the nightly vigils in Manhattan, the trees on my street all tied with red, white and blue ribbons as a greeting to me when I came home after filing my first missing person’s report. Probably most moving was the complete Thanksgiving dinner cooked by my neighbours for my friends and family after we returned home the night of Arron’s memorial service, on Canadian Thanksgiving.
“What you’re not hearing in the media,” I told my friend, “are all the wonderful acts of kindness that I know are happening everywhere. You see it in the photos of banks of cell phone plug-in sites set up by neighbors with power for those without, and when you hear the report about the pizza joint opening in the dark at nine am to serve pizza for those who have no way of getting hot food.
I’m beginning to read different Facebook posts from my friends. The all-girl wheelbarrow demolition volunteers, the offers of warm places to stay for the firefighters from Staten Island (I’d sign up for that one…;), the recommendations for open, less crowded gas stations.
If I know one thing about people in the NY/NJ area, they are resilient and will get through the painful aftermath of Sandy. They will rebuild. They will carry on smarter and wiser than they were before.
I know this first hand. I learned from the best.
Please donate to the Red Cross. They were far and above the best out there for distributing aid where it was needed in the aftermath of 9/11. I have no doubt that is the case again now.