A powerful storm came through the East Coast last week and caused much devastation. Houses were swept off their foundations and collapsed into the ocean. Cars literally floated away. Too many lost their lives. My friends in New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, and anywhere else affected by the hurricane, I hope you and your families are safe.
I am fortunate that I was impacted only by being without power for four and a half days. Sure, it was really inconvenient and frustrating and despite our best efforts to pack our freezer and fridge with ice, we had to throw out just about all our food. But in the big picture, that's so insignificant - there are families that lost everything.
The outpouring of support from neighbors and complete strangers has been completely overwhelming. When I came home from work on Wednesday to my dark building, there were bottles of water in the lobby and power strips set up for residents to charge their phones from a generator. This morning, a restaurant down the street brought over several large containers of coffee and a family from a building nearby with power delivered home cooked food.
There is also a feeling of acceptance and patience like I've never seen before in the city, as there is a communal understanding that everyone is dealing with something. Many are still displaced or hosting displaced friends. There are massive transportation disruptions and gas shortages. Through this, "thank you"s have never been expressed so heartfelt. And people are coming together: last night, a group of kids had gathered in the hallway and were playing a board game under the emergency lights. Our neighbors had their doors open and were talking to each other by candle light.
This has put a lot in perspective. As I've just had the power turned on in my building, I am seeing many haunting images of the damage for the first time and learning just how widespread the destruction is. I realize how lucky I am that the biggest problem I had could basically be fixed with a so-called "flip of a switch". So many will need so much more to rebuild.
To my friends across the country and around the world - please keep New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, and all affected in your thoughts. Please consider giving what you can, be it in the form of time, woman-power, or supplies (here is a list of items needed). Think about giving blood. If nothing else, just give kindness. You never know how much it means until you need it most.
Looking to help? Here are ways you can volunteer: http://www.nycservice.org/#s