Monday, November 12, 2012

what water brings when it's angry.

the sun is shining brilliantly. the sky is blue frost, clear
and crisp. and i've let go of the quilt of fatigue long enough
to finally get these words out about these past few days dealing
with Hurricane Sandy. granted, my experience was and is vastly
different from many others in this city. but i'm compelled to
write about it just the same.

looking back, i think the hurricane proved to illustrate some
things about people here, and the way some of us live - and
try to live. i remember those few hours on Monday before the
Storm hit were just preparation, and anticipation. both sides
of my family are from Jamaica, and they've been through many
a hurricane and tropical storm before. once the power went out,
it was just a waiting game.

having no power forces you to do either one of two things. get
frantic in the face of darkness or embrace it. i spent a lot
of the evening time listening to radio reports, sleeping and
writing. i won't soon forget the absolute calm i felt writing
under the light of a pregnant moon the day after the storm. it
was so full that it lit up my entire block. for that brief bit
of time, i felt like i lived inside a couplet by Pablo Neruda.
i found myself getting used to not being locked in with tech,
that need to be updated constantly via social media and email.
whether we believe it or not, today we are more digitally
dependent than ever. dealing without power also made me look
at the community i live in, and others outside of it.luckily,
i live in a part of Queens that is removed from the shore and
has a slightly higher elevation. (another benefit from the storm?
better knowledge of topography.) all we dealt with was scattered
power outages and fallen trees, which are dangerous in their
own right. a couple of people died due to downed power lines.
there's still one right up the road from me. and two of them
snapped from a main line and caused a parked van to catch on
fire right at a busy intersection. trees wrecked windshields,
fell into houses. but when you consider the devastation seen
in the Rockaways, the Jersey Shore, Long Island and Staten
Island, i think we got off lucky.

if seeing the subways filled with millions of gallons of water
doesn't make you pause, then something is wrong with you. Sandy
spared us. let's face it. Sandy was a Category 1 storm when it
struck Jamaica, a Category 2 when it slammed Cuba and poor
Haiti. we would like to think that we suffered the worst but
it could have been much worse. and with all that, more than
40 people died across the tri-state area. some of those stories
are heartbreaking. and a few were preventable. and there's still
so many without homes. Breezy Point is virtually ashes right
now. the boardwalk in Atlantic City is ripped apart. New Dorp
in Staten Island was wrecked. which leads me to this: there are
still some people in a bad way two weeks later. people in the
projects of Far Rockaway have NO power. imagine living about
8 stories up, no way to get down except the stairs, and when
you do you have to get relief supplies and hope the city gets
your power restored? and the shelters are filled to the brim
to the point where people are turned away. there's some in LI
who won't see power restored until AFTER Thanksgiving, no thanks
to LIPA. and then you have a state emergency official fired
because he diverted a crew to clean up his driveway, a crew
that could have helped others during that time. imbecilic
impulses seemed to rise up here and there, even with the now
canceled New York City marathon and how it was handled by
Mayor Bloomberg. sometimes you need to let people find their
own way to get back to normalcy.

another thing that got me was media reaction. one thing that
gets me is how prevalent Staten Island is whenever you hear of
relief efforts related to Sandy. i know they went through it
badly. i know the borough president was upset about the lack
of response, hence his badmouthing the Red Cross. but part of
me wonders why the media began to cover Staten Island so heavily
at the expense of talking about other areas? i know it troubled
me enough to dash off an email as soon as i was able to a couple
of media outlets and personalities. because while those people
needed help, you can't help but worry about who's NOT getting
those resources. and usually, we know who gets that short end
of the stick. thankfully though, there's some folks who are ON

finally, i think Sandy did two things. one, it reminded us that
we, as human beings, may work it out and run things here on this
blue marble we call Earth, but we don't RUN things. and second,
it allowed us to find our common humanity again, outside of the
PC's, the TV's, the tablets that dominate more of our routine
than we'd like. and it allowed others to give from the heart, no
matter where they were. sometimes i wonder, if there wasn't
sudden disaster and hardship, would some of us exercise the power
to give as often as we do? for as many people that gave and chose
to help, there were others who are clueless(i.e. those standing
on line for Apple's iPad Mini four days after the storm). like
i said on Facebook, 'times of crisis show who gets it done as
opposed to who flaps their gums.' when water arrives full of
anger, actions are a better wall than words.

No comments: