Hurricane Sandy caused at least $50 billion worth of damage across the northeastern United States, giving the worst of its wrath to places like New York’s Staten Island, Manhattan, and Long Island. Many people lost everything, with homes washed away or burned to the ground. Others spent days or even weeks without electricity, and even now many of us here still walk around as if in a collective daze. Just a gust of wind gets us nervous, forcing us to anxiously glance up at trees and power lines.
The only thing I can think of that had a similar impact was 9-11-2001, when afterwards the sight of jet planes made me shiver. Even now I pause briefly when I hear the sound of plane engines, unable to shake the memory of that day and, as if I could ever forget, all I need to do is look at the skyline of my city to know it has been changed irrevocably.
While 9/11 had a focused impact on what we called Ground Zero here in New York, Sandy’s path of destruction was a much wider one. It too changed landscapes forever, toppling a devastatingly high number of trees, destroying homes, ripping apart infrastructure, and shattering lives. Just go down to Long Beach or Island Park on Long Island, and you will see the carnage that was left behind, the detritus of lives forever altered by the ferocity of Mother Nature’s seemingly unforgiving hand.
Now in these days after the catastrophic event, it is more important than ever to seek normalcy in things that remind us of better times, happy things, and the people who matter most to us. The “holidays” represent an opportunity to bring some kind of joy to people, to put smiles on faces that have had nothing but the heft of loss and despair to think about.