Let me begin with my apology for the delay in this post. October this year has been both a busy and disturbing month for me. Please forgive my deviation from the normal monthly format to share with you what is most pressing on my mind and in my heart. I realize now as I write, that this was what prevented me from writing this blog post on time.
Somehow, the norm just did not seem enough to me, and I kept putting off writing it from a self-paralysis that told me it just would not be relevant this October. Since I became a professional writer, I strive to be thorough in my research, accurate with my facts, and write only that which I can be proud of composing. As a freelance journalist, I believe that I have both the responsibility, and the freedom, to do just that. The writing comes from both my mind and my heart, and I refuse to tolerate any separation of the two. Deadlines are paramount to me, and when I found myself ignoring one with this post, I knew I had to figure out what was holding me back from writing it.
October 29 was the one-year anniversary of the devastation of Sandy.
Remembering that day is depressing enough, but the reality that one year later
--so many on Staten Island, and in other areas on the East Coast, are not in homes of their own, as well as that
--the physical protection against anything this winter may bring our way this year is inadequate in my opinion,
absolutely infuriates me.
The storm made me sad. My heart broke with all the loss of life and property.
Those who pulled together, then, and those that continue to this day to help, comfort my heart. Together we will get through this.
However, if I see one more commercial on television as to how we are stronger than the storm and have beat it, I believe I may scream.
Yes, we are resilient.
Yes, this will not destroy us.
Nevertheless, the inefficient negligence affecting the lives of those shattered by Sandy for over a year now is downright immoral in my book.
You’ve lost everything in the storm. We want to help you. Then came busy work followed by limbo, false promises, and shattered expectations.
Find a way to get years of your last tax statements, gather a few years’ worth of W2’s from your job, and fill out paper, after paper, after paper. Oh, the ocean destroyed it all? Well, make some phone calls and get new copies. Hurry up; we need all this paperwork this week. Something’s changed; we need this new thing in a couple of hours. We will let you know in two weeks. Two weeks later, it will take another two weeks, repeatedly for the course of the year. You need to raise your house this high. Wait, the maps are changed. Make it this high. Stop, if you do work on your own home we can’t help you. We’re here to help you, dangling hope, but we’re not going to tell you when or how.
A year later, as the politicians relax in the comfort of their own homes, this ludicrous scenario continues, keeping the survivors as victims.
Well, I have my own message to send to the politicians, one that many have forgotten.
--Those who suffered because of Sandy are not a photo opportunity.
--Remember these are people, not numbers on a piece of paper.
--Do not shuffle them around.
--Don’t ignore them.
--Stop repeatedly telling them that they have to wait to get on with the rebuilding of their lives.
The many volunteer groups, individuals who are in the trenches since day one, understand that. Habitat for Humanity understands that. Former President and Mrs. Carter understand that. Neighbors who help their neighbors understand that. Charities that actually got money, necessities, and continued assistance to people hurt by Sandy understand that.
Don’t get me started on the charities that used the storm to increase their revenue, and then didn’t do a damn thing that directly helped a Sandy survivor. I don’t need to name them. They know who they are, and they should be ashamed of themselves.
How about using the money that thousands across this city and the country donated, believing that they were doing something to help their neighbors, to help their neighbors?
If you are one of the ones who donated money to help, do you really know where the money ended up going? If not, maybe you should ask that charity to specify what they did with your money.
Writing this is therapeutic for me. It is something I needed to say publicly, both for my own peace of mind, and for you, my readers, to know what is really going on, if you did not already know. However, that is not my main intention in writing it.
I ask that ALL of us “walk the talk” in whatever capacity we can.
What action you take is your choice. Write a letter, email, social media post. Call a politician. Join a volunteer group. Call someone hurt by Sandy to ask what you can do to help with something still needed. Find out what still needs to be done to protect our shores, and demand that the people who should be doing it actually do it before another tragedy occurs. This storm may not have hurt you personally. What’s to stop the next storm from doing so?
Only you can come up with the action that will best use your strengths to make progress. It’s been over a year already. Let’s not let this situation continue year, after year, after year because we believe that someone else is handling it.
If each one of you did just one thing to help, miracles can happen.
While those who know me personally know how essential I believe prayer is in accomplishing miracles, the God I know and love also made us the individuals that we are, wanting us to actually to do something about a bad situation to make it better. Yes, continue praying, but please, please, don’t stop at just that.
Each week I pray with my parish community, “I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.”
I have always taken that “what I have failed to do,” very seriously and personally. In many situations, I believe that failing to do something that we know is the right thing to do is the bigger sin than anything that we may actually do in life.
I beg you: Don’t leave this to someone else. Don’t question what you as only one can do. Do something. The exponential results of what one does, together with others doing their part, will astound you.
Let’s make that miracle!