After the storm

Hi, peeps. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, I’ve been posting links regarding Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy and how you can help if you’re not in the areas hit. That generally means donating to a variety of organizations. Here’s a link from HuffPo with info on how to help so you can do that.

Many of us here at Women and Words have friends, family, and/or author colleagues who are currently living in the areas affected by the storm. Author R.G. Emanuelle lives in NYC, and is dealing with the aftermath. Fortunately, the area in which she lives did not sustain flooding and her place of residence did not take damage, but just taking a walk around her neighborhood, she informed us, demonstrates how lucky her area was.

But others were not so fortunate.

Aftermaths are different than the storm itself, as the reality of what’s happened starts to sink in, as patience crumbles, stress increases, and the magnitude of the job ahead looms. R.G. told me that with the transit system crippled, people have resorted to trying to drive around the city, but there’s very little gas available. Those gas stations that have gas may not have power to pump it, and gas stations with power no longer have any gas. Lines for gas stations are hours long, and tempers have flared. I’ve heard reports of fights breaking out and belligerent crowd behavior, so police have had to show up at these working gas stations in an attempt to restore order.

There’s very little power (if any) in Lower Manhattan, which has literally trapped some elderly people in their buildings because they physically can’t negotiate the stairs to go to food/water stations that are hastily being set up (no elevators). Many volunteers are doing what they can, and delivering to people as they can. Without power, cell phone usage is at a minimum (provided there are cell towers still standing, as well), though some residents who have power have set up “charging stations” and relief efforts also include charging stations for phones and electronic devices so people can continue to send and receive information. This area of the city sustained heavy flooding, and reports earlier this week indicated that relief efforts were slow to start. Fortunately, that appears to be changing.

Meanwhile, Staten Island looks like a scene from an apocalypse movie. The island received heavy, heavy storm damage. At least 19 of the 41 New York City people who have died thus far as a result of the storm were Staten Islanders. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, power is out, streets are blocked, and residents decry the lack of media coverage of their plight. 500,000 people call Staten Island home, including author JD Glass, who, fortunately, came through relatively intact. She said via social media that there’s no power and she and hers are cold, but they’re okay. Staten Island, she says, “looks horrific.” And in case you were wondering, the New York City Marathon (still going on this Sunday) begins on Staten Island’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, something that caused one Islander to remark: “We are far from fine and the fact that the mayor wants to have a marathon this weekend when we have people who lost either their lives or lost their entire house. I mean, it’s unbelievable to me.”

And lest we forget, Sandy came ashore in New Jersey. That state, too, reels from damage and destruction. Houses, neighborhoods, iconic historic boardwalks and structures wiped out. The coastline has been gouged out, moved, re-mapped. Residents wander through the ruins, unable to grasp what they’re seeing, uncertain where to start, their homes, sense of place and selves pulled out to sea with the receding waters. Looting has occurred in ravaged communities on the barrier islands, as well, for food and water, sometimes shelter.

I was talking to a colleague a while back. He was in Miami when Hurricane Andrew hit. This year was the 20th anniversary of that storm. He told me that in any disaster like Andrew, “it was 48 hours to the jungle.” Meaning there’s a 48-hour window after something like a hurricane or a complete power failure before people go into full-on survival mode, especially if relief doesn’t appear to be moving in fast enough. Looting, violence, whatever it takes, he said, is what invariably happens.

I still think about Katrina, too. I was living in Tennessee when that storm hit, and lots of survivors were evacuated to surrounding states, including Tennessee. I have author colleagues who are New Orleans residents, who survived that storm. One remarked on social media a couple days ago that watching news reports of Sandy brought up some kind of PTSD for him, because of Katrina. I expect there are thousands like him, and there will be thousands more like him, who make it through Sandy, but who will struggle for years with the aftermath.

Let’s not forget that.

To donate to the Red Cross, click HERE.

Here’s that “how you can help” HuffPo link again.

Some of those links at HuffPo:
AmeriCares will be providing medicine, first aid kits, cleaning supplies and things like flashlights to people in need.

Food banks have been destroyed/affected by the storm. Feeding America provides food to make up that difference.

Don’t forget our neighbors to the south who were also impacted. OperationUSA is helping relief efforts in Cuba and Haiti.

Save the Children provides supplies like diapers and hygiene items for families with children.

Team Rubicon activates and organizes military veterans and medical professionals to assist with disaster relief.

Thank you.