What Sandy taught me.

When I was little, hurricanes were unheard of in NY. We knew Florida got the hurricanes, California the earthquakes and NY  got the snow. (I guess I wasn’t aware of tornadoes back then either).  Last year, when Hurricane Irene passed it seemed like a big storm, a lot of rain and wind.  (please note- I am aware that Irene caused a lot of damage in many parts of the tri-state area… I am generalizing and speaking about my experience, this is not meant to undermine anyone’s experiences!)

This year, I am sure so many people thought that Hurricane Sandy was going to be insignificant. No one thought, leaving work on Friday afternoon, that we would be out of the office for a week (my case), that schools would be closed, that our subway system would be shut down, stations flooded, that half of Manhattan would be without power, that our tunnels would be flooded, that TWO of NYC hospitals  would need to be evacuated, that hundreds of people have lost their homes, all their belongings… all that is only in NYC, I am not even going to try to discuss the devastation of Long Island or the Jersey shore.  

I can’t stop thinking about those poor families who have lost their homes in Breezy Point, NY. I can’t imagine the devastation… the heartache. My prayers go out to them. The images seem so surreal, like special effects in a movie. After a couple of days of seeing these devastating images on television, a few thoughts come to mind:

First, nature is powerful… and we, humans, like to push the envelope. We like to think that we are in control, that we are powerful, that we can overcome and outsmart nature.  Nature has shown us how little and vulnerable we can be. I think that once the cleanup is done, we really need to sit down and look at how the weather has changed. Can we honestly say, with a straight face, that climate change isn’t real, that it doesn’t exist?

Second, it is important to listen to our authorities. Don’t take things lightly… be prepared! What’s the worst that can happen? You end up with a stock of batteries, flashlights and bottled water? The best case scenario is that you won’t need those things, but if you do, you’ll be prepared! I am not trying to be judgmental (hey, my own Hubbs was making fun of me when I kept repeating what the newscasters were saying about how prepared we should be!) This should be a learning opportunity, so we don’t make the same mistakes others made! I agree with Mayor Bloomberg, it’s selfish to stay and risk the lives of rescue workers who will have to go in and save you!

Third, life is so precious. We never know when our loved ones will no longer be around. We should cherish those we love, call people we care about, reach out, and check in! We should appreciate what we have.

We are a resilient people. We are people that can come together when disaster strikes. Moving forward, we need to rethink how we view nature, and rebuild smartly. We (us, Northeast inhabitants) also need to come to terms with the fact that hurricanes are no longer a thing of Florida or the Caribbean, as they were when I was little, but something we need to be prepared for all the time.

As a good friend said, I feel lucky and guilty at the same time. Lucky that my loved ones and my home are safe, but guilty that I spend time complaining about little things, when in the grand scheme of things, they are nothing in comparison to what people have experienced in the past few days. Sandy has taught me that I am lucky, and that I should stop sweating the small stuff and I should  be thankful for my family’s wellbeing and health, things that cannot be replaced. 

Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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