November 5th, 2012. One week post Hurricane Sandy. Another day without power for most of our North Jersey town, another day of no school for my children, 6 days now and counting.Yesterday I spent six hours helping out in our town’s emergency shelter. Each of my children took shifts helping out too. A local health care center and assisted living facility is providing a large room that can seat over 100, an adjoining boardroom with 10 computers as well as an area with several beds for people who don’t have family or friends in the town to stay with.
I saw many familiar faces there – neighbors helping neighbors, even when they didn’t have power in their own homes. People came by for a few hours or for the whole day, to pass the time, get warm, “charge” up and check their e-mail. The health care facility has also been providing hot meals to all who want them and have made shower facilities available. The area is staffed by volunteers from the community and overseen by the local Board of Health. My son and his friend were able to “live streamed” the NY Giants game and hooked it up to a big “screen” that the heath care center had provided. The center also hooked up a DVD player to the big screen so movies could be played throughout the day.
I met a couple at the shelter who had a tree limb literally come down through their roof and land in their bed, in between where they lay. Fortunately at just the “right” time, the woman had gotten up to get a drink of water – when she came back the side of the bed where she had been laying was covered with sheet rock and debris from their attic. She saw a tree branch impaled next to her husband..who by the way is safe and unhurt. Memories I am sure that will stay with them forever. Many people have similar stories. In our community, people spent the weekend cleaning up and getting help to remove trees and debris. Our town will and is already beginning to look “back to normal.”However, we are collectively and individually realizing and acknowledging that many communities and towns in our state likely won’t ever be able to “get back to normal” again. At the shelter there was also “talk” about the weather, and a nor’easter that may come to our area as soon as Wednesday. Several people, when they found out I work on climate change education and advocacy, wanted to engage me in discussions. Many people simply wanted a “climate 101” brief and seemed interested and anxious to learn more so they can feel better prepared for and help plan, for “next time.”
On a local moms Facebook group there are many posts that express frustration over no power, long gas lines and disbelieve that in a state like New Jersey so many can be left without power for so long. Friends feel they are imposing on friends and family and want to be “home” with their own families. We are vulnerable and need to recognize this and figure out how to find the positive. I think the following video does that for me.
Please share this inspiring video from Kathryn Blume. This speech was given on November 4th at a Rally in Vermont. I think she says it all, and says it well…