I am not sure what to write. On the day when the Subways are mostly back, the bridges are mostly open, and life is returning to normal for most of us New Yorkers, Staten Island is still suffering and images of sunken roads, uprooted trees, and desperation are running through my mind. Yesterday some friends and I loaded up Frau (my black Passat) with socks, batteries, flashlights, garbage bags, bleach, and clothes and drove out to Staten Island. We have a friend who lives very close to the shore (near the Midland Beach area), who made it through the storm with little damage other than loss of power (which he and the rest of Midland Beach still do not have). Thankful that he made it through and acutely aware of all of the suffering around him, he called us and we all got together with a plan to bring supplies, and make some hot food to bring a little warmth to the Midland Beach Area.
Father Capodanno Blvd Emergency Help Station
Chili Stand at Father Capodanno Emergency Help Center courtesy of our friend Thor
Though we did our best to run from place to place with blankets and flashlights and water, we spent most of our time stuck in traffic and making our way around blocked roads and confused police officers that were wearily directing cars where the traffic lights were out. By 3:30pm it was COLD, and by 4pm when the sun started to recede we got a small glimpse of the bone chilling wind, the bitter cold, and the pitched black that had been the reality for Midland Beach residents for almost a week.
I was not prepared. When you grow up on New York, you think the only reason school gets cancelled is because of a snow storm. Your parents don’t get flood insurance on your house. You don’t think you’ll ever see people from the same city you live in shoveling the entire water soaked contents of their homes out into the street because it was instantly turned into trash. I was not prepared to see telephone poles splintered in half, to see houses missing one of their four walls, to see more furniture on the street than in homes.
Right now I am sitting in my living room, hammering away at my laptop keyboard with my SmartTV steaming my Pandora station of choice, and I feel guilt because I am warm, the water coming through my tap is safe to drink, and my life is normal. But life is not normal for people who are five and ten miles south of my front door, and they need all of the food, shelter, and assistance they can get. Had the storm hit hardest 10 miles North of where it did then life Harlem would not be normal. Harlem would be asking for help, and we would expect everyone else who calls him/herself a New Yorker to lend a hand. If you are reading this it means you most likely have power, and it means that you most likely have the means to help. Do so. HELP. In anyway that you can.