Thankful in the aftermath

Hurricane Sandy 2012- The Aftermath

This whole thing has been devastating. Watching all that everyone has lost, people crying, whole towns gone and homes and lives destroyed is so sad and terrible. I keep saying I can’t watch anymore but somehow find myself not being able to turn the tv off.

Falling asleep to the sounds of sirens all week long felt eerily too much like 911. It felt and still does feel, so surreal. Seeing half the city lit up and half left in the dark, was unreal. Seeing trees ripped out of sidewalks in NY was something I’d never imagine seeing. Like everyone else, I truly didn’t believe Hurricane Sandy would be so serious, and figured it would only cause a little flooding here and there. I was evacuated and left to go to a good friend’s place, where we soon also lost power and hot water. I only packed 3 days worth of clothing, thinking I had overpacked. Little did I or any of us for that matter truly know the serious depth and severity that this storm entailed.

I feel conflicted about so much. On one hand I feel bad for everyone affected, but on the other I think the only ones who deserve the sympathy are the ones who lost so much and are in need of help. I keep thinking how on earth could they go on with this marathon, but then I have a best friend who I’ve watched train for months and know this was something she’s been waiting for forever. I don’t know..the thought of running through devastated towns and streets seems so wrong at this time. It feels like there are more important things to be dealing with, than exercise right now. It’s usually such a joyous occasion and it deserves that…Can’t the marathon be put on hold? I know thousands of people are against the run, as I see more and more online petitions going around right now. On the other hand, I did like hearing that all the money from the runs will be donated to Hurricane Sandy victims. It also in some ways, seems symbolic of NY’s strength. However the thought of it just seems unsettling in my mind at this time. Yesterday I read something that really stood out to me; it talked about how hard it may be for those suffering in Staten Island to watch runners run past them drinking cups of water and dropping half filled ones. Most of them still don’t even have any clean water to drink. I don’t know what the answer is, I’m not criticizing anyone’s opinion, I just had to share how conflicted I feel about it all.

New Yorkers tend to be tough, resilient, strong- qualities that I love the most, qualities that make me proud. Here’s my conflict. (Some) New Yorkers also tend to take advantage of what they have. I’ve seen and heard about so many things and people who have lost so much. People without anywhere to go who’ve lost power. People who have lost family members or who are simply trapped. Then I see people talking on FB who may have only lost their power, or were unable to catch a bus, or had to wait for gas; the contrast leaves me baffled. Yes it’s all relative to your own experience, but it’s also needs to be relative to the other people around you. People lost homes. They lost cars. They lost everything they’ve owned. There at countries who have nothing all around us.

I myself had to be evacuated. I may go back home to find my living room in need of repair, and have had no power for the past 5 days, but I’ve put a smile on my face and have been dealing with it because I’m lucky to be alive and am feeling incredibly thankful that’s all that has happened to me. Families lost lives. Innocent lives. There was a story of two kids who were torn away from their mother’s hands by the power of water. There was a guy who was simply going to get something out of his car was struck by a falling tree and killed instantly; one of my friends grew up with him. The stories continue. There were houses destroyed by an electric fire, basements and first floor homes flooded completely, elderly who couldn’t get helped and died because they were trapped, apartment walls ripped off instantly by winds. Last night on tv, they showed people digging through NYC garbage dumps for dinner. The sight really hit me hard. These are the ones who need help, and support, and are truly suffering from this insane hurricane aftermath.

Psychologically people don’t usually tend to worry about something bad that’s going on in the world, if it doesn’t directly affect their lives. It’s sad but true. New Yorkers need to look around and realize, the mass destruction, which maybe they didn’t have to suffer with, is only 20-30 minutes away from them. As some Manhattaners complain about not being able to shower, just a borough away there are people without a home to even shower in. It’s so crazy.

There is no doubt about it that it’s all a big mess. For everyone involved, it’s a mess. Commutes that take over 3 hours that normally take 1, or gas lines that last over an hour only to find out there’s no more left. These are all frustrating. Upsetting. It’s crazy, I agree. However, these things are also just inconveniences. I saw a friend’s facebook post that said exactly what I was thinking, calling these things “luxuries”. I couldn’t agree more. These past few days, I couldn’t help but think about some of the kids in Ghana who I know walk over an hour to school EVERY day.. and that’s just one way. I couldn’t help but think about the staff I worked with in Ghanaian schools who relied on water pumps and buckets weekly, in order to shower. Or the kids I work with who live in huts and have sleeping mats as their beds. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about one of our students Solomon, who on our last day, brought in his own sleeping mat as a gift to us staff. That was amazing. Still all the people I am thinking of and referring to in Ghana, are happy and thankful each and every day of their lives. They go about living with such a happy, hopeful, positive mentality. It’s one that says life is going to be ok. So, I walk. So, I have one pair of shoes. So, I don’t have many books to read. They are fully thankful of everything that they DO have. .. and that is exactly the mentality some New Yorkers need to borrow right now. People were left here in our home, our city, with absolutely nothing.

As the death toll keeps rising, All I can say is I’m thankful I have my health, a home, and all family members in tact. SO thankful. I can’t wait to get back home, and start volunteering to those who were less fortunate than myself. It’s time for everyone to look around and be grateful for what they have, because there are certainly a lot of people right now, who have a lot less. Cold food is better than no food. Power out is better than never having a light switch to turn on again. My thoughts go out to those who are hungry, homeless, stranded, and left with nothing. Thankful help is starting to reach out to you; I hope this all passes soon.

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