After Sandy, all I had planned for this issue no longer seems appropriate to write now. Rather than totally skipping an October blog, I think it important to try to resume some sense of normalcy in a surreal time for the people of Tottenville and all of Staten Island. This disaster was worse than imagined.
There was some damage to my home – destroyed outdoor light fixture, fallen tree, rip at top corner of house, and a snapped electrical pole by my house that caused a power outage from Monday at 7pm until a temporary repair could make it safe to restore power on Thursday at 8pm. I was one of the lucky ones.
Friends were staying with me who evacuated from their Zone A home in Oakwood Beach. When they were able to return home, they discovered a flooded destroyed home and car,and are now staying with me until they can rebuild their lives.
To me, the most important lesson from this storm is the importance of life. Our “stuff” is replaceable. Our lives are not. Too many people died on Staten Island to protect their homes, not believing that this storm could become as devastating as it was. This tragic loss just adds additional wounds to an already hurt community.
I see recovery as a twofold process. Those with loss must take both the practical and the emotional steps to recovery. The practical is to save anything, and then recover with the assistance of their insurance, help available from FEMA, and the support of others who want to help. The emotional healing comes from working through the stages of grief, supported by loved ones and the community,both mourning lost lives and the loss of homes.
The outreach on Staten Island was fantastic! Even before agencies came, the churches, local groups, and citizen volunteers went into action on the streets to help. Water and food was there for them as people cleared their homes, along with needed gloves, boots, clothes,towels, blankets, and care boxes of toiletries, as others helped with debris cleanup to lighten the load.
Most important of all was the hands-on moral support of neighbor helping neighbor, who gave the gift of both support and hope to get through a most difficult and devastating time.
As life returns to normal for those not in th edirect path of destruction, please remember to keep reaching out to those who will be continuing to rebuild their lives one slow step at a time. Together we can heal!