While some time has passed since the great storm, many states were not equipped or prepared for the massive destruction brought by Hurricane Sandy. Living in a hurricane prone zone, I expect the worst, and frankly plan for mediocre. In Florida we are used to the warnings and don’t get too hyped up about major rain. Yeah, we have our batteries and such, but most of us who have been here a while just plan for hurricane parties, which entail lots of processed food, alcohol, water (just in case), and movies or professional sports subscriptions. We “hunker down” and wait it out with wind wrapping around every crevasse in tumultuous peril. At the end of the day its a lot of water and we still go to work because our infrastructure is designed for drainage.
But something changed in 2004 when we had three major storms in three months hit central Florida and the coast. FEMA came, the National Guard came, private service trucks from all over the country drove in convoys and occupied big box parking lots by the hundreds, and for weeks and sometimes months on end. The cleanup seemed endless. People couldn’t work, couldn’t get food, water, and shelter…oh that was something of a luxury. Once people could get out of their homes, every open venue was inundated by locals buying a soda and a meal, and loitering just to use an ethernet connection or charge phones and laptops. It was 90+ degrees, 90% humidity and miserable.
Communities came together. Neighbors without names became friends and charitable hosts for those in need. Gas was scare, water and ice was distributed from trucks every few miles. Food banks and charities and grocery stores donated everything they could supply for free or low cost. In the shocking heat and humidity everyone reached out to one another without question. Homes were unlivable for several months, roads were closed, nothing was the same.
What’s the point? Well, Sandy victims, you are not victims; you are survivors. It takes time. It takes a long time. But normalcy will resume and if you recall nothing else from your struggle, hold steadfastly to your experience.
Let it be a scar.
One thing I realized after living through almost every type of natural disaster, is that when emergency strikes, you gain an acute realization of what is important in life. Whether you have a few seconds, minutes or hours to decide, the choice of what means most ultimately fits in a handbag or suitcase. Amazing isn’t it? With all of our capitalistic inspirations, photos, legal documents, family keepsakes, and a few clothes and toiletries can all fit into an airline size carry on or maybe less. In case you are reading this and have never had to make these decisions, trust me, most would leave most everything material behind without question. Family and personal safety trumps all.
Please seek out the organization of your choice or help people individually. Sandy tore apart lives, schools, small businesses. People are still without work, without income, without shelter and winter clothing for their families. Hurricane Sandy didn’t just hit the poor and destitute. Think about your own situation, would you have the financial ability to completely start over if everything was lost? If you are in a hurricane zone you should know recovery takes many many months. Help those who helped you when we went through devastation.
Here are some resources to get you started: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/hurricane-sandy-how-to-help-volunteer-donate_n_2118889.html and http://www.family-to-family.org/2012/11/family-to-family-hurricane-sandy-relief-effort/
If you have more questions or want to help a family please contact for more info and resources in your local community.