The election is over (Thank God!) but the storm continues to rage. Throughout New York and New Jersey, entire communities remain decimated, powerless, and helpless in the unrelenting cold and dark. Homes remain flattened, boats upturned, cars bashed in by fallen trees, people and pets gone forever. The disastrous effects of Sandy are far from resolved, and will no doubt linger for a very long time to come.
I too was once the victim of a very different kind of storm. The response was incredible: like victims of Sandy, I received offers of goodwill and kindness from around the globe. One friend sent me a new pair of Uggs all the way from Sydney, Australia. Another in D.C. offered to send out a fresh set of sheets and bedding so I’d have a comfortable place to sleep. Countless others offered me a place to stay or help rebuilding, and some even suggested a fund be set up to assist me financially.
I was then and forever will remain grateful. It is incredible to see what can happen when a community comes together. But I was merely one person. THOUSANDS have been hit hard by Sandy, and they need help.
All around my neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, generators run power into buildings that remain damaged by floodwaters. Car doors hang open in a futile attempt to dry out their mildewing interiors. My dear friend’s family home in Island Park is unlivable. Another friend’s home in Long Beach is being readied for demolition. These are traumatic times for so many, and sadly I know first hand how trauma can haunt, deplete and diminish a person for a long, long time.
This time around, I was one of the lucky ones: after 5 long days without heat or electricity, I was able to return home and get back to normal, relatively unscathed. Eager to give back, I have wished I were a contractor or an electrician, or drove a fuel truck, or had medical training, or possessed something meaningful to offer. Turns out, I am tireless when it comes to making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and so I did just that along with a crew of volunteers for Lower East Side Recovers. Turns out, everyone has something they can offer.
Though supplies are urgently needed - diapers, blankets, flashlights, batteries, brooms - don't discount the power of your dollars! Several funds have been set up to assist with the recovery, and a quick search on the Internet reveals them all, though a really great place to start would be:
Lower East Side Recovers: https://lowereastside.recovers.org/#
NYC Mayor's Fund: http://www.nyc.gov/html/fund/html/home/home.shtml
Winter is coming; the violent Nor’easter that struck the region on Wednesday was no small reminder of this. The recovery efforts will just get harder as the days get shorter, darker and more frigid. As time moves forward and we (again, Thank God!) put the 2012 election behind us, please don’t forget about our neighbors and friends here on the East Coast. Do whatever you can to show you care (click here for more ideas!), and to tell Sandy’s victims that they are not alone.