Anyone who knows me knows that New York is everything to me. New York is my blood, my life, my heart. Another member of my family. New York is the place where everything good that has ever happened to me has happened; my first internship at the Met, my college experience, Central Park hangouts with my friends, that December Monday riding in a police van with Yoyo & friends. New York is the supporting role in my life. I couldn’t live anywhere else. My heart beats for New York City, especially. I even feel like New York is in my blood, in my cells, in my DNA. My family has been in New York since they came to this country in the mid-1850′s. My great-great-great-grandfather came from Germany, got off the boat in Manhattan & marched over to a military recruitment station & signed up to fight in the Civil War. My family are born & bred, tried & true, dyed in the wool New Yorkers.
When 9/11 happened, my heart collapsed. It just ceased to beat, it seemed, because my beautiful city was so injured. It’s people- my fellow New Yorkers- killed off in an act that still, to this day, is unfathomable to me. It felt like my heart just broke, and that it would never heal. But as the city regained it’s footing, my heart began to regain it’s rhythm. It restarted & healed itself & got on with things, just like the city itself. New Yorkers don’t dwell on this shit. We pick ourselves up and get the fuck moving again. We rebuild. We go on. We keep on truckin’ & we let NOTHING hold us down.
But now, again, my heart is broken.
And once again, my city is hurting.
Hurricane Sandy tore through the tri-state area and left a path of destruction & death in her wake. 9/11 hit home; my father lost co-workers and friends, my mother lost friends, my friends lost family. My father worked tirelessly down at Ground Zero day after day after day, I saw the realities of it firsthand. I felt it. I was there, in New York City that day. I know terror. I know sadness & fear of what might be coming. I know the emptiness that comes with being helpless & in a situation you can’t control. But thankfully, no one close to me perished that day. I was sad for the towers, sad for the people who died, sad for myself. I spent months in a state of shock & sadness that weighed on me like an ACME anvil in a Roadrunner cartoon. The things I saw that day & the things I heard about that day will forever be etched in my mind. I’ll never get over it or get past it.
But Hurricane Sandy really hit home… literally.
Manhattan skyline without power – NY Daily News
Breezy Point, Queens NY – NY Daily News
Subway flooding in Manhattan – NY Daily News
Right after Jay headed into work Monday night, around 5:30 p.m., I knew shit was getting real. The wind was insane. It only got worse, and I was surprised there wasn’t much rain. I thought that would be it for the wind, really, I didn’t think it could get worse. Boy was I wrong. That was just 70 mph gusts.
I lost power at around 8:30 p.m. on Monday, October 29. It was the scariest thing; everything pitch black with just 90+ mph wind gusts, sustained winds of 75 mph. Trees bending in half, literally. I didn’t get power back until Friday, November 2nd, and I was lucky to have gotten it back that quickly at all. I had a battery-operated radio to get my news from for those few days, but hearing about things and seeing them are very, very, different. When you have no phone to speak with family & friends for days, you don’t get the full impact of what’s happening. Then the sun comes up, and the power goes on, and you see it. And what a harsh reality it is.
I’m lucky, I live far enough from the water that the storm surge (which I believe topped out at almost 18 feet OVER what it normally is, between the storm surge, high tide & the full moon) didn’t affect me. But Jay’s family had 5 feet of water in their basement.
Seaside, New Jersey- Tim Larsen/New Jersey Governor’s Office/REUTERS
I’m lucky, you see.
I have my home. I have a roof- minus a few shingles, yes. But it’s there. I have my entire house intact. I have food & clothes. So I went a few days without power. Big deal. Yeah, it was cold. But I knew it would end at some point. I knew eventually I’d have lights. At least I had a gas stove to cook food & give some heat to the place.
When people you know or your own family lose their entire home or apartment, you begin to realize the depth of the situation. When your significant other’s family has gallons of dirty water in their basement, ruining everything in sight or when their 89-year old grandma loses her entire apartment, except for her valuables and photo albums. When you know people who have nothing to eat and no heat & need to eat the prepackaged FEMA military-style meals. When you personally drive by homes and see the trees sticking out of the roof, or roofs torn off, the windows blown in, the boats that landed in people’s front yards (some with dock still attached). When you hear firsthand about the tragedies. The little 13 year old girl whose body was found, in her pajamas, on the lawn of her home… her father’s body a couple of feet away in a wooded area. The two little boys swept out of their mother’s arms when her neighbor refused her help in the midst of the storm. The woman who tried to stick it out and when the water came rushing in her windows, she had to jump on her kitchen table to avoid being drowned, then had to be rescued through her roof. The off-duty cop who, after evactuating his family, was electrocuted & killed in his flooded basement. The family who evacuated and returned to find absolutely nothing left but a few pieces of wood and a handful of family photos. When you see a place like Long Beach, NY, that looks like a 5 foot snowstorm hit… but yet it isn’t snow, it’s sand. From the bottom of the ocean.
Long Beach, Long Island, New York – Boston.com
Not only is New York my heart… but New Jersey is part of my blood too. My family has owned summer homes there, we’ve vacationed there, I’ve been all over the Jersey Shore from Seaside Heights to Wildwood to Atlantic City to Keansburg & back. I love the Jersey Shore (not the TV show). And now that, too, is all but gone.
Union Beach, NJ – NY Daily News
At this point, anyone denying climate change is a fool. But I don’t want to make this a polarizing post, so let me stop.
These photos here? This is not a third world country. This is New York City. This is New Jersey. This is Connecticut. This is Maryland, and D.C. From seaside mansions to trailers, from brownstones to high-rises, we were all affected. It’s not a low-income versus high-income issue. This isn’t a red state/blue state problem. This isn’t a Christian or Jewish problem. This is a human problem. This is about people. Children. Pets. Grandparents. Babies. A sampling of races & ethnicities & religions, all without the basic necessities of life. Young & old, male & female, dogs & cats, all without power, heat, food & comfort.
Long Beach, Long Island, New York – NYT
These images scare me, sadden me, and frustrate me. I feel like I can’t do enough for these people.
Please get over the politics of this. I really don’t care if the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Chrisie, is a Republican, Democrat, Communist or a member of the Green Party. If he does his job, and praises the President for doing his, what difference does it make? Who cares if Governor Cuomo of NYS is a Democrat and he’s working with Senator Kemp Hannon, a Republican from Long Island, to help people? Isn’t that what politicians are supposed to do!? Aren’t we ALL supposed to do that? Work together, I mean. If you’re helping out, I don’t care who or what you are. If you’ve got a spare set of hands, some extra clothes or food to give, or some money you can donate, then you’re good in my book. Parties & politics don’t enter into this shit any more than race or gender does. When babies are hungry, aren’t we all just here to help?
All I ask is that you care about your fellow man, no matter where they live. If you gave for Katrina, if you gave for the tsunami, if you gave for the earthquake in Japan… then please give now. 40,000 people in New York State alone are homeless after this. That’s just New York. That doesn’t count New Jersey and any other states that got hit with enough force to ruin homes or make them unlivable. There are over 900,000 homes & businesses without power STILL in New Jersey alone. In New York, OVER 2 MILLION PEOPLE still have no power. Long Beach is under 3-5 feet of sand. The Rockaways are a mess. The Jersey Shore basically is no more. This is not a joke, this is a major emergency. This is literally a disaster area. There is no room for misunderstanding or underestimating the magnitude of this. This storm was NOT just a tropical storm. It was a monster storm, a once in a 100-years storm. There was no way to prepare…. we just have to work on fixing what’s broken, and not with words. With actions, money, food, and clothes. If you can help out, then help out. But basically lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.
Island Park, Long Island, New York – Dayna Arrigali (local resident)
You can make donations at the following websites to help feed & clothe people in need:
Red Cross – redcross.org
Island Harvest – islandharvest.org
The Bowery Mission – bowery.org
Occupy Sandy Relief NYC – interoccupy.net/occupysandy
Also accepting donations: NEW YORK POLICE DISASTER RELIEF FUND, 233 BROADWAY, SUITE 1801, NY 10279
If you live in the area, you can also make in-person donations for personal items such as batteries or even non-perishable food items at Island Harvest on Long Island. I also have the address of a church in Staten Island accepting donations of just about anything. There are many other places, but too much information to list. If anyone needs more information, e-mail me & I’ll put you in contact with the right people. And thank you.