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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Aftermath...Hurricane Sandy.

 After the Hurricane hit I was without power for close to two weeks...when I got internet access back I began my search to find what to expect in the coming months ahead and came across a blog written by Sam Jasper over at the New Orleans Slate which 3 months later was the most spot on advice I've ever read, and have experienced every bit of what he mentions in his blog post titled Unsolicited Advice to the Northeast in the Aftermath. It is a must read for everyone who have never experienced a disaster and a reminder to those who have. Here is a list of what he advised and we are still experiencing daily here in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey.

Expect unexpected consequences.  ~ I have seen a man burn alive, many fires, reckless automobile accidents, suicides, and the list continues as recovery has only just begun.

Have patience.  ~ As difficult as it is, being patient is how we slowly recover and keep stress at a minimum. I refer to this everyday being a New Yorker.

Try not to slug your Insurance Adjuster. ~ I would add to this FEMA, SBA, and a host of other agencies who treat people as if they are trying to rip them off...which refers me back to have patience. ;)

Advocate for your Area. ~ Without the help every community created for themselves, many more people would have died. We can't rely on the officials and that has been made very clear to all involved. People who care more about profiting from this than helping have been halted by people organizing and advocating. So true. Get involved. 

Allow yourself time to cry. And cry. Then cry some more. You'll be crying unexpectedly for a long time. ~ Holding grief in is not healthy, and the rebuilding, the devastation, the lack of help, just keeps adding up and a release is a healthy way to grieve and continue forward in this journey.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, you'll need it.The mental health issues related to this will not show up in force for a couple of months.  ~ I have been in conversations where people, men and women just break down into tears with the constant stress that pushes people to the there for people, I have made so many new friends...Hug people...touch them..pat them on their back..tell them a joke...stay positive and keep moving forward...we must.

Watch your elderly family members. ~ This resonated with me and I checked in on various neighbors who are elderly and some who nobody knew they were home and were too proud to ask for help. Watch all the elderly, keep checking in on them, many won't leave their homes without power and are still waiting for help...I have also met many people who have lost an elderly family member since the storm hit. ITs not over by any means, this advice was so spot on and helped my community and is still helping. 

Your little ones will be scared, deeply and for a long time. ~ Children are scared for there mothers and fathers, themselves...whats going to happen to them is what they ask me when I interview some of them or play some games with them at relief centers....they are young, and its a lot to understand, slowly programs are being made available, but it is still not what our country is capable of, and I will write about this furter in my next post, which will address everything we are going through in depth.

Retain your sense of humor. ~ Laughter is the best times like this making people smile or laugh is worth its weight in Gold to get through the day one moment at a time.

Accept what people give you. Don't let your pride get in the way.  ~ When the Red Cross trucks first came around the neighborhood, many people felt guilty taking anything... being they had power back or at least had gas learn pretty quick as Sam advised in his post to accept help , just say thank you and be grateful...because those who came directly to local relief centers which were tents or tables in the middle of the street have saved peoples lives and have touched so many by doing the right thing for each other.

Be prepared for assholes.  ~ I'll use Sam's quote because it is EXACTLY how it has played out.
"There will be those who make outrageous assertions about your character or your home from behind a screen as they sit comfortably a thousand miles away. They will say it's God's wrath for having gay people among you. They will say you're idiots for living at sea level. They'll make all manner of racist comments. They'll say that rebuilding boardwalks and homes on the shore or the barrier islands is wasteful folly. They'll call you freeloaders, opportunists, and worse. For every bit of great kindness you receive, there will be an equal amount of venomous hatred. Ignore them if you can or defend if you must. Understand that idiots will come out of the woodwork as fast as the volunteers who show up to help you. They are hateful cowards. Say what you must to them, unless ignoring them is easier on your psyche." 
So true, and brilliant advice. 

In closing there is hope...This was the first house raised in Staten Island  to prevent against future stome it was lifted about 10 feet higher, the neighbors and recovery workers cheered...and for a moment, everyone was happy, and hope in a people was raised along with the home. 

Staten Island, New York, and New Jersey Rising Through The Ruin.

 I've enjoyed many communal dinners since the storm helping and volunteering...Sam's advice has certainly came in handy every day and I hope in some way passing this on it does for you as well. Sam also had a quote on his post that someone read during his Thanksgiving dinner which is a passage from “Ulysses” by Tennyson I'll leave you with because it is so appropriate.

“Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Stay safe, strong and high in spirits peeps...We have a long battle ahead, but we will get through this and I'll keep bringing it to you as I take it all in and recover myself. God Bless All. 

 Peace out peeps~ Edward #KONYH