Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Aftermath of Sandy (personal essay)

It didn't seem that serious at first. I think all of us were a little desensitized to the media's warnings. Yet as more time passes, I am beginning to realize the severity of the storm that passed through just a few days ago. Never before in my life has a natural disaster of this magnitude hit so close to home (literally and figuratively). You know things are bad when half of New York City shuts down for almost an entire week. It may not seem bad in some parts, but just watch the news. Look at the pictures. This is real.
So many people are displaced from their homes right now, for indeterminable amounts of time, without electricity, hot water, or worse. Phone lines are down. Coastal areas are still under water. People are charging their cell phones in their cars, in stores, and on the streets. Elevators are down, and buildings are closed. Fallen trees are blocking roads everywhere. Building facades collapsed, cars overturned, electric plants exploded. People are concerned about loved ones safety and well-being. People are worried about their boats and shore properties, which they have no means of accessing to even assess the damage. Plans were changed, concerts and events were cancelled, birthdays and weddings were postponed. Even Halloween is postponed. Schools are closed for an entire week. Entire towns and cities were evacuated. To compound matters, the storm struck just 6 days before the nation’s largest marathon, and 8 days before the presidential election. Talk about a conflict of journalism interests. Right when we should all be gearing up for the marathon and the upcoming election, most people are far more preoccupied with the status of their electricity and public transportation. Funny how priorities can shift in an instant.
The effects of this storm are being felt nationwide. Deadlines are being missed left and right. Production timelines are being delayed and pushed back. Supply chains have been disrupted for multiple days. Deliveries are behind schedule. Flights are suspended. Trains are down. Roads are blocked. People are stranded. Stores are closed and restaurants shut down – some temporarily, some permanently. Independent business owners are loosing income. I’m not sure how the farmers fared, but I’m sure it wasn’t well. Countless offices have been closed for the better part of a week, because lower Manhattan has no electricity. Even where offices are open, so many people have no way of getting to work because the nation’s largest mass transit system is operating at half capacity until further notice.
Almost every single person I know was affected by this storm in some way, whether by personally loosing electricity and becoming a nomad for a while, or worse by knowing someone who knows someone who lost their home. I feel so incredibly lucky that I still have power at home, that I live in a neighborhood where business is back to usual for the most part (minus a few fallen tree branches), and that all my family in both NJ and CT were largely unaffected by the storm (besides power outages). I am blessed that all my friends and family are currently somewhere safe and sound.
My office has been closed all week and has no electricity, I am working from home with no remote access to our share drive, and I have no idea when the subways will be running again. I am fearful that the subways and trains wont be operational in time for my friends and family from out of town to see me run the marathon on Sunday morning, and I'm just as concerned about how I'll get myself to the marathon starting line. I am incredibly lucky that is my biggest problem coming out of this disaster. So many others were far less fortunate, and my heart goes out to them.
It is so easy to live inside your own little bubble and think, “well I’m fine, that really wasn’t so bad.” Just because you survived the storm of the century with minimal discomfort doesn't mean everyone else did too.
The outpouring of love and support that I've witnessed over the past couple days is truly touching. We all need to stick together and support each other, especially through the bad times. People are really struggling right now. People need clothing, food, shelter, supplies, somewhere to charge their phones and somewhere to take a hot shower. This is not a laughing matter. Be there for each other and offer help wherever you can.
The more time that passes in the wake of this storm, the more the effects are being felt. We though the worst was behind us, but weathering the storm was the easy part, compared to dealing with the aftermath. As we pick up the pieces in Sandy's wake, and everyone begins moving on with their lives, we will all come to realize the challenge that lies ahead - the ongoing uphill battle just to regain a sense of normalcy.
We will get there.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Julie! Thank you so much for your email. I didn't know how to get a hold of you to respond! Email me with your address, - it would be great to hear more and I'm glad you like my blog. We do have a lot of similarities!