It is truly horrible to see the devastation that Sandy has caused. As with so many disasters, the misery and horror go on long after the water recedes. As we hear of the shortages of basic necessities, the complaints and accusations mount. There will always be those who prey on others in a situation like this. However, I know that most people want to help, are trying to help, are doing what they can to help. I have a few thoughts on the situation.
First, I think that there is nothing that people can do that is sufficient in the face of such adversity. You can’t send tons of people in who will need the same resources, that is, food, water and shelter, as the people they are trying to help. In this case, you can’t get anything in that takes more than a tank of gas to get there, since there is no gas due to the power outages. Right now, the only people who should be there are locals and power company workers. Food and water needs to get places, but realistically, it seems it would be better to get the people to the shelters, at least until power and gas is restored. You can’t be driving around delivering these things with no gas.
I remember the anger of the Katrina victims, echoing the same sentiments. I just don’t think we will ever get so good at dealing with natural disasters that there won’t be extreme hardships for weeks or even months after such an occurrence. I did hear one comment by a tv personality who lived in New York, that he was staying with a friend, “until they cleaned up his neighborhood.” I don’t know who “they” are, but he was an able bodied man, shouldn’t some of that be the responsibility of those who live in the area? When the October surprise hit here in Western New York, every man who could wield a chain saw was out helping himself and his neighbor. I realize the elderly and frail can’t do these sorts of things, and it does seem, at least in the city itself that they have been hit the hardest.
I guess I’m saying, I don’t have any answers, other than blaming and screaming doesn’t make anything better. Of course, if you’re in that situation and you feel helpless, maybe all you can do is yell. I do think that we should all take it upon ourselves, and as part of our communities to plan for ourselves what we would do. Do you keep any water in your house? Do you have a generator? What would you do with no power for a week? Do you have someone you could stay with? What if the roads are closed? You can’t live in a perpetual state of paranoia, but a complete lack of planning is why these disasters are so bad. Did no one think about the fact gas pumps need electricity? At least there was a mandatory evacuation order. Wherever you live, if they say it, do it. Especially if you are less able to care for yourself. If you don’t think you could go live in the wilderness with an ax and a match- get the heck out early. All we really gotten good at is forecasting. So, if they say the storm of the century is bearing down on you, either get gas and water now, or get out. But either way, there will be pain involved, and it will cost money and take time to clean up.
Just to ride my personal hobby horse for a moment- this is also why I am so determined to see people get in shape. You can’t haul the debris to the curb, cut the limbs with a chainsaw, or save yourself from an ebb tide if you are not in shape. Please don’t make yourself into a victim by how you live now. Maybe you’ll never need to hang onto branch to prevent the flood from carrying you away, but if you can’t even do one pull up, will you be able to hang onto that branch? Can you carry a 5 gallon bucket of water? Many people have real disabilities or are elderly. Don’t put yourself in the category of needing help, if, with a little work now, you can be one of the helpers.
Post script: Since writing this yesterday, I saw news clips of neighborhoods working together to clean up the devastation. I hope that news personality who was waiting for someone else to clean up sees that and gets the hint.