As mass consumerism in the form of Black Friday is making landfall (in the US), I feel like the last lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy on mass consciousness is about to be wiped out. So let me try to sneak this post in…
You know the saying, Life is what happens when you planning something else….right? Well, it kinda puts the last month or so into perspective because quite a few things have happened.
It was only 3 and half weeks ago that Hurricane Sandy split Manhattan in half. Half dark, Half lit.
No Halloween.Trick or Treating vanished.Just like the plethora of Halloween pop-ups selling all the paraphernalia.
2 and a half weeks since the NYC marathon cancellation.
2 and a bit weeks since the Re-election of President Obama AND a Northeaster storm brought the first snows and the winter chills.
2 weeks since the other L in L&LtakeNYC returned (Hurricane Sandy turned the tail end of my sisters holiday into Survivor Camp NYC).
And so here we are now at the Thanksgiving table. Taking a moment to be thankful and grateful for everything, before….., well, lets just leave it there for the moment. It’s a perfect time to do a re-view.
Coming from Southern Africa I’ve lived in places where there has been water rations (and at times no water), frequent power cuts /electricity load shedding, no petrol/gas, plenty rain and rivers bursting their banks but never, ever have I seen and experienced what I saw with “Sandy”.
Just the other day somebody asked, ‘how was “Sandy”?’ and I said, ‘it was quite the storm, something like the movies.’
Like, the scene when the power cuts is such a definitive moment-stripping you away from that perfectly snug position on the couch to standing upright,feeling blank but making a million and one calculations all at the same time about what to do next. And I tell you, thank goodness the iEverythings had battery because they doubled as torch lights that first night.
Seeing forces of nature from your living room window reveal their most vengeful and powerful self feels like you are “IN” the movie. Rising darkness, wind, water and rain are ominous scenes. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you check outside your window and see that the East river has expanded itself, carving new path ways by overtaking streets to the level where car rooftops are barely visible.And water is creeping up towards your building, uprooting some pretty hefty oak trees on the way.
Build up to landfall. East River scene .
Through the Trees you can barely see the traffic light pole and water that had just about covered all car roof tops.
In the end we lost power, hot water, steam (for heat) and unexpected school closure for several days but still had water, gas, each other and Uptown (the half lit section of Manhattan). It meant focusing on basic survival i.e. getting heat, light, food, drinking water and connectivity in the urban jungle – and remaining calm and positive.
Here’s some of what my family and I ‘gained’ from “Sandy.”
NYC is one incredible community (that just keeps going,non-stop). It exists as a layered network of communities within communities. There was an overwhelming outpouring of support and love spread between and within communities. There is strength in unity.
Conserve the basics: water, electricity, and food. The key message for me (re-enforced message) is USE only what YOU need. Based on the premise that there is enough for everyone, sustainability is about using your fair share and no more. And I think that we can do with much less than what we think we can.
Emergency services personnel and the cities leadership is outstanding. I had this intangible sense of the deep level of respect people have for rescue teams, firefighters, policemen etc. I think because a disaster situation wakes you up to the immeasurable bravery, commitment and above all ‘value’ attached to their service to others. This is incomparable to my home city, Johannesburg. I realize that it’s about a value chain and the attitude and trust within this chain that each person and ultimately a whole community must bring to form the bonds and strong links.
4.City slicker kids learnt a new trick
My 2 city slickers got introduced to this new concept of bucket baths. Bathing from a filled bucket of warm, soapy water in the shower. This was amusing….
My husband was prepared for his second NYC marathon. He was at his fittest and lightest. And was planning his fastest completion time. Boom. Boom. Boom. Then the race was cancelled amidst a lot of frothing. Sometimes you cannot argue with Life. It is what it is.You got to swallow it and move on. As quickly as possible.
6. Conscious decisions (and Calmness) help in the midst of Chaos.
After 4 days, I decided that I was getting back to my own schedule, not “Sandy’s” schedule…even though all I could do to that effect was get up and go run a few miles and then resume the Sandy daily schedule of finding warmth, food, communication, a spare plug etc… It was just important psychologically to make that clear decision for myself. If only to hang in there and stay mentally intact. (And 1 day later the power returned.)
Plug in wherever.As long as it’s plugged in.
And after all is said and done, I know that relatively speaking, I can say that we were merely inconvenienced. There is much to be grateful for. And still lots of love to spread.
Facebook: Leanne Tee Twitter: @leannetee Instagram: @leannetrcy