Monday, February 4, 2013

Hurricane Sandy: View from the other side of the storm!

Long Island October 30, 2012
Living Hurricane Sandy mere miles from the devastation!

October 29, 2012, the day Hurricane Sandy reached peak intensity on Long Island, New York, now seems like forever ago.

The politicians, at once seemingly so concerned about the welfare of those who were tragically affected, used the people devastated by this storm as campaign props and fodder for PR campaigns and have since moved on.

The President's show of concern, whether real or contrived, where he walked shoulder to shoulder with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie helped him win a second-term in the White House. Sandy made Obama seem somewhat presidential while taking Benghazi and the September 11 massacre at the U.S. embassy there out of the news.

Not that it was ever really 'in' the mainstream media to begin with other than them slamming Mitt Romney for his reaction to the President's lack of reaction.

For the storms victims the FEMA red-tape that the President promised to cut, like most of his promises have done, went by the wayside.

As for the private insurers they are doing what insurance companies do. Lowball estimates and deny coverage! For many of those who were suffering at the end of October 2012 they are, at the beginning of February 2013, suffering still.

Personally when the storm hit my house and my family were mere miles away from the worst of the devastation but, truth be told, we may as well have been on the other side of the country.

Oh we 'suffered' through 12 days of no electricity or heat, lines for gas and the 'hardship of long lines at the one Dunkin' Donuts that had a generator.

Compared to those who suffered death, destruction and the loss of every piece of family property, ours was more like a mild inconvenience or a walk in the park.

For those of us who lived on the periphery of the storm, as the power was restored and the gas lines evaporated, we moved on with our lives.

Not so for so many others as I experienced on Saturday spending a day in the trenches with a team from Iowa working at a devastated house in Massapequa.

A day on the other side of the storm!

Saturday, ninety-five days from the end of the storm, my son and I went to volunteer at a house about 15 miles or so from our own.

We picked up our protective gear and headed south.

Ninety-five days after the storm had pulled out we drove down the streets of Massapequa towards the water. All seemed normal for a Saturday morning in a bedroom community 35 miles east of New York City.

Normal, except for the fact that many of the lawns were covered by pod storage containers and the streets were lined with contractor trucks. I commented to my son that if you did not know what had happened it looked like everything was fine.

But for many of these people whose lives had been devastated it was, and still is, anything but fine.

We arrived at the house. It was located on one of the canals that stream into the south shore of Long Island from the open ocean. It had been devastated as the water rose up over the bulkhead, up the backyard lawn and came inside the structure before flowing north.

The house was gutted down to the studs and this team from Iowa was preparing to rip up the floor boards, spray the beams below with chemicals and then scrub all of the exposed wood down to take off the mold that had accumulated.

And that's what my son and I spent the day doing. Ripping and scrubbing so that at some point this family, displaced by Hurricane Sandy for what has been ninety-five days although it will be much more than that, can move back in and try and rebuild their lives.

The point of this story is to remind people that for the politicians and the media, regardless of the story or the tragedy, these events of human suffering are merely an opportunity. An opportunity to further a political agenda or to fill airtime or pages.

In many cases they may not mean what they say or do what they say that they will do. But when the story is out of the news and is no longer mentioned in stump speeches that doesn't mean the problem no longer exists.

For the rest of us who agonize over our daily minutia of life, often not stopping to appreciate any of it, it's a wake-up call to understand that in the blink of an eye it can all be taken away.

Taken away to where you would wish that getting mustard instead of mayonnaise on your sandwich or getting stopped at a long red light was the worst thing that you had to worry or complain about.

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