After Sandy... Two Different Worlds
The image explained what I was feeling today, better than any other image I saw today anywhere be it on Twitter or Instagram or on some random website.
After any big hurricane finally makes landfall and slams across a large swath of land there is a wide divide between the "haves" and "have nots" and that comes down to those who have electric and those who do not. Those who slept through the storm and felt somewhat cheated by not seeing any "real" weather ...and those who battled through the night praying they would survive.
We had this in Andrew in Florida. Everyone south of a certain point had their lives so dramatically rearranged that more than 50% of my friends who lived at Ground Zero ended up getting divorced or moving far away. Everything in their lives became a "before Andrew" and "after Andrew" timeline.
Those who lived in the Northern part of Dade County far from the track of the Eye Wall that smashed through South Dade County experienced a different Hurricane Andrew. In South Dade they had no homes left and if they got lucky and still had a home it had no roof and if it had a roof.. the windows soon failed and no one had electric for a long, long time. When relatives tried to bring them supplies, water, ice.. they got lost because all of the landmarks were gone.. the trees were gone.. the road signs were gone and everything looked the same.. as if a bomb was dropped.
For the people living in North Miami they complained about having to have someone cut down the tree they lost in the storm. They complained about the money they spent on hurricane supplies and snack food they did not want to eat and all the hype and the inconveniences the storm brought. Some felt guilty for surviving and getting off so easily when so many others died and lost their homes. But, for most life went on with a few bumps in the road and some even wished they had seen more of Andrew.. maybe not the eye wall, but more weather and more palm trees swaying after all that preparation.
It was a city split in half by the people who experienced the intense horror of Andrew and those that wanted to get back to work fast and pay off the expense of the extra supplies and impulse buys spent when they thought the world was coming to an end and it never occurred to them that they would survive and have a credit card bill to pay.
In New Jersey today people who were lucky enough to survive the storm, miss the floods and didn't have to battle any fires are sitting in the dark tonight, without power, without water and eating canned food and rationing every bit of those hurricane supplies they were so relieved they bought. I have an Aunt who is close to 80 and she just recently lost her husband of close to 60 years, and she is managing with a positive attitude and a great desire for a hot shower and happy to be far inland, up in the hills with only tree damage and power outages glad her house survived. There are people who lost their homes, their livelihoods, their schools, their fast food restaurants and their grocery stores.. their way of life, their view of the ocean unimpeded by walls of debris that need to be carted away before they can try and rebuild. They are facing the problem of where to live for the next month or two unable to comprehend they will be living away from their homes on the Jersey Shore for way more than a couple of months. Everything they knew, imagined and loved is gone.. wiped away in a wave out of nowhere. A week ago they were debating the election and whether Obama deserved four more years or if they felt they could not afford four more years. That was their biggest decision they felt they would make in the next four years. A week later their "to do list" is littered with "where to start" and "who to call" and "what to do" and they are either thanking God for being lucky to be alive or they are angry and bitter over losing everything.
In New York City, the Mayor wants to make sure life goes on as soon as possible and is making the New York City Marathon one of his top priorities. While I do think it's a big event. I think it's a little pathetic to be worrying on a Marathon when so many New Yorkers have lost their cars and means of transportation and after running from the water... and hiding from the wind they are hoping their jobs will be open tomorrow and if so...wondering how they will get to work without the use of the subways.
My son took a Car Service to get home to Brooklyn from Manhattan this morning. It was an easy $40 spent well to Church Car Service who got him home safely while navigating the pitch black streets of Manhattan, driving around debris that had not been cleaned and going a little slower than normal because it was totally dark... black... without lights and yes eerie and strange and then he got back to Crown Heights where there was power, water, lights and a somewhat normal like.. the way it was up on the Upper West Side where he rode out the storm complaining there was no wind and it was like a big rain storm with some trees down.
He was up there on that half of Manhattan that is lit up pretty in red and yellow lights in the image above. His trek through the darkness of the other half of the city was short, quick and a reminder that some people did have a Hurricane named Sandy. I hope his job in New Jersey is still there ..
The picture is indeed a good illustration of how different the worlds are ... those in Long Beach and the Rockaways lost everything or almost everything if they were lucky. In Breezy Point the fabric of normal is gone and it will take years to weave normal again for the people who lost their homes and way of life.
The Jersey Shore is no longer a TV show.. it's a name that is synonymous with tragedy in the way that Dallas either reminds you of JFK being assassinated or .. Larrry Hagman. Breezy Point is a spot of tragedy, loss of life and homes that were destroyed by fire in the middle of a flood.
And on the Island of Manhattan there are two worlds living together on one island. The top half that is frustrated they have to take a bus to work and want to know when the Subways will be running again. They might even be looking forward to the Marathon and upset the Yankees lost. Somewhere on the Upper West Side there are kids out and about for Halloween and kids going to dress up parties glad that life went on without missing much of a beat. And, on the lower end of the island of Manhattan... people are huddled in the dark around candles listening to music if they have any charge left in their iPod, wearing extra layers to stay warm nibbling on candy and eating hurricane supplies .... wishing they still had a car and lost between being happy they have a roof over their heads and an apartment that survived wondering when they will be able to go back to work and how the next few days and weeks will play out. It's a hard candy Halloween for the people living in darkness.
Two worlds. Some have power and light and others do not.
And in Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights and Crown Heights or any Heights they have power and light and water and life goes on... in Brighton Beach, Long Beach and parts of Flatbush they are without power eating hurricane supplies and snacks their friends brought them from parts of the city that have power. And, here and there where ever they are spending the night.... there are people who had homes in Sea Gate once upon the time ...which was this last Sunday and they are wondering what they will do tomorrow and how to start over again when two weeks ago all they had to worry on was whether the Yankees would be in the World Series and who they would vote for in the next election.
Two worlds as clearly divided as the dark and the light in the image above.
Those who will forever remember life "before Sandy" and "after Sandy" and those who remember when once upon the time in 2012 the subways didn't run and they had to take a bus or walk to work or take a car service. Those who never want to see a hurricane again, and those who feel almost guilty they made out so well that they can run into a Starbucks or take in a movie tonight.. or go to a Halloween Party. The other half of New York City is living out a nightmare worse than any horror movie played at a late night party on Halloween.
Those who think that having the New York City Marathon is important and those who think it's got to be the stupidest thing to worry about at a time like this..
I went through Andrew. I was on Miami Beach and we had no electric after Andrew for over a week, no water, telephone service, no food in the fridge and no long showers unless it rained outside and we got lucky. My life can be divided by "before Andrew and after Andrew" and I know what it is like to be living in the dark side of two worlds.