We have been bombarded with coverage from Hurricane Sandy. Since I have access to the New York City channels my schedule of television viewing changed for a few days, but that was fine. I knew that people needed to know what was approaching so that they could prepare.
I was struck with disgust by people who had little consideration for others as they refused to leave areas under mandatory evacuation. "The last storm was not bad," said one. "They will come for me if it gets too bad," said another.
How inconsiderate those responses seemed to me. Would they really expect an emergency person to risk life and limb to save them from their own stupid decision? The answer to that played out the next day as the wrath of Sandy hit full force. People were stranded in homes where they had climbed to the highest point possible. The emergency workers had to go through downed power lines and waist-deep water to rescue them.
That just does not seem fair to me. Everyone had adequate warning of the approaching storm. They were alerted to the intensity that was expected, but no one expected the wide range of devastation that resulted.
The night of the storm I watched the famous Boardwalk shiver and shake as the boards loosened from their moorings. The casinos were even flooded up to their front entrances, but still people stayed.
The death count is still being tallied, but certainly many people were saved by careful planning. People were evacuated and went to shelters that were prepared to house and feed them. I do not think anyone was prepared for the widespread electrical outages that affected more than a million (or was it a billion) customers.
I was delighted with the empathy that I saw in case after case of people helping people. Those who had power from generators shared their facility with those who were without. If they had food, they shared it. New York City is resilient. Even as I write the subways that were flooded are coming back to life. The water has been pumped out and repairs made to get the city back on its feet.
When my granddaughter was here watching television with me we viewed Battery Park under water. That was a familiar spot since we went through the area on our way to the Staten Island Ferry last December. The familiar lights of Wall Street were also out. We wondered what other familiar sites were under stress.
My heart goes out to the people throughout the tri-state area who suffered tremendous devastation. Some lost not only electric, but they lost their homes and even loved ones. The more than 100 homes that burned were a total loss. One can be thankful that no more lives were lost since the potential for harm was so great.
Pleas are going out for donations to help the recovery efforts. Every television network is responding to the call. The American Red Cross seems a safe place to donate. They are all around the area making sure people are safe and cared for. They are providing emergency supplies.
For those of us who have never encountered this type of disaster, the damage is incomprehensible. How do you recover when you have lost everything? Do you even consider rebuilding in the same area?
One lady said, "I grew up near the shore. I do not know anything different. This is my way of life." She planned to rebuild when things settled down.
As I sit safe in my own home I know that others are without heat, water and the basic necessities. I can watch what transpires because my electric in not out. If I was close enough to house some of those displaced people I would gladly do so.
Yesterday when we went to church, there was no heat. We got a little taste of what the people affected by the storm are going through. We left our coats on and toughed it out. We were cold for only an hour; we could certainly stand that. The coffee served after the service was a welcome treat.
One of the parishioners reported electric that was out for 12 hours. When you live in the country and the electric is out you are missing everything. Your water pump runs by electric. You have no water. Modern stoves require electric to light the pilots even if you have a gas stove. I feel fortunate. If the electric goes out I can keep warm. I have a gas fireplace. Now, the fan will not run, but the gas does produce heat. If I close my pocket doors in the living room I am warm. It is when I have to leave the area to go to the bathroom that I suffer discomfort. Then again, it is not unlike the outhouses of old.
As for food I always told my husband that we would not starve. There was plenty to eat, but we might have rather funny meals. Of course, everything would be straight from the jar or can. When the power is out we try not to open the refrigerator and freezer. We want to keep all of the food that is possible.
My prayers go out to those who are still experiencing the aftermath of the storm. As the temperatures dip there is another problem to contend with. When homes get too cold there is a danger of pipes freezing.
Today if you are warm and cozy take time to pray for all of those who are still suffering. It will be a long time until things are back to normal in many areas.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.