Two weeks ago Saturday, I was partying with some of them at a 60th birthday party on the edge of New York City. Today, they are recovering from a natural disaster, every one of them.
Two weeks ago, the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area could never dream what would happen next. They have collided with the New Normal.
I have other friends/family in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester County. This is what happened, and why it is important to vote.
I realize this happens to Florida and the Gulf Coast a lot more, but the extent of this storm was massive - the total area it covered was something not seen often in our lifetimes. The nature of these storms is changing. Less wind. Larger area.
A cousin at the party had water in his house, his car is undriveable and possibly totalled, and he still did not have power as of when I heard of them last
Mother in law, didn't have power 5 days ago; she's home now but had to take refuge with first a family member and later a neighbor's daughter.
Husband's cousin-in-law (is there a better name for this relationship?), without power, expected restoration was November 4, let's hope so. Her daughter, no power, expected restoration, November 9. CIL's mother has Alzheimers, and can't understand what is going on. Speaking of being in the sandwich generation...
Cousin in Brooklyn, without power 55 hours, has it back now but heating system isn't working. Neighborhood 1/2 mile away is totally devastated. Gas lines are two to three hours long in some neighborhoods as of yesterday.
New Jersey relatives were without power. One moved down to Florida several months ago and was very unhappy. Turns out she made the right choice as her former home area is in ruins.
Brooklyn relative talks about New York Marathon and how they took generators that residents could use and used them for Marathon tents. He posted on Facebook explaining how Midtown Manhattan got their cell phone service restored and the rest of the five boroughs got ignored. A high school friend who is a runner got involved in the relief effort, and a "helping" marathon was held yesterday.
We saw the best and the worst of people, through the fingers of friends communicating on social media. Facebook was essential. Twitter was helpful. Smart phones, when charging was available, useful. iPads were better, for some reason.
So, dear reader, what have we learned, as a hurricane hit an area of the country that one would not normally hit?
We've learned that this isn't the first time New York City has been brought to its (figurative) knees by weather. There was this little storm called The Blizzard of 1888.
Partially because of the Blizzard, itself a superstorm, the subways were built, and powerlines in Manhattan were put under ground. The system worked - until Monday. Times have changed.
Now we have to rethink our cities near the coast. Sandy showed us just how vulnerable we are. Our lifelines of gasoline and cell phones were cut. Storms aren't storms any more, they are super storms. Perhaps weaker winds, but the storms now cover huge areas. Imagine - this storm affected the weather in Chicago while it was tearing up New Jersey!
We must adapt or die. Maybe NOW we will no longer think our lives are "business as usual". Too many people have had their lives disrupted for too long. Will we finally wake up and realize we must adapt to what is going on around us? That we have to spend the money to rebuild and improve our infrastructure to cope with the changes in the weather?
We have mixed politics and meteorology too many times recently. This must stop. Hoping the affected people can get to a voting booth and express what they feel.
If we don't face the facts, our lifestyles won't be sustainable for very much longer.
My thoughts continue to go out to all those affected by Sandy.
And, the final lesson of the past week? VOTE TOMORROW. Even if you think it won't matter. Even if you think your candidate will lose. Haven't been paying attention? Pick up today's newspaper, if you can. You can read newspapers without power (at least during daytime hours.)
Exercise your right to vote tomorrow. Or shut up for the next four years.