Gratitude and Sandy.

A random and completely incomplete list of things for which I’ve found myself suddenly, heartpoundingly grateful, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy (which, let’s not forget, was all of eleven days ago):

  1. The chance to have a fight with my 9 year old daughter about what jacket she should wear.
  2. The temperature of my shower water.
  3. The ability to get online and have Peapod deliver boxes of food to my front door.
  4. The fact of my front door.
  5. The access of everyone in my family to the various medications we take.
  6. Holding my children in my arms.
  7. The opportunity to run something over to the middle school because my 13 year old boy irritated the crap out of me by forgetting it.
  8. My thermostat.
  9. My family photo albums, dry, complete, and all in one place.
  10. A tank of gas.

It has been easy, in this week of nail-biting elections and joyous outcome to forget that tens of thousands of American citizens are currently living under conditions that are third-world in nature, without any of the coping skills, mechanisms, or networks that third-world citizens must necessarily develop to survive. It’s always awful to have your access to food and clean water and mobility washed away — there’s something particularly perverse to having it happen when you live 20 floors up, a circumstance only made possible by the assumption that all of that can never happen.

I’ve made donations to the Red Cross, have made an appointment to give blood, and I have urged others to do the same. Out here in the middle of the country, I feel like it’s just about the best I can do — but please note that there is a lively conversation going on in the comments of yesterday’s open thread, offering information from the ground, and alternative outlets for help (thank you Neocortex, Nora Munro, and watson42).

I remain very, very worried for the individual people still living in such awful want, and about the implications for New York City and the rest of the country going forward. I think we have a long way to go before we really understand the full impact of this storm (and the followup northeaster), and I fear it’s going to be worse than we may have even feared.

If you can help, please do. In the meantime, I’ll be over here counting my blessings.

Shabbat shalom to all.

UPDATE: The Rumpus has just posted a Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort Roundup which folks might also find helpful.

Thoughts both random and jumbled.

“Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012. At the time of this image Sandy was the strongest hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.” – http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/tc_pages/tc_home.html

Now that the storm has passed (at least for we Americans – Canadians in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes have their own Sandy to face as I write) I’m finding it impossible to grasp its enormity and implications.

Which I suppose marks me as The Average American, but I really am overwhelmed trying to think about it. For instance: New York City without full power for as long as a week, maybe? How does that not become bedlam? What’s happening with the folks for whom a blizzard is still blowing, what about people with live wires and flood waters all up and down the mid-Atlantic, what about the sewage pouring into waterways, what about the 80 homes in Queens destroyed by a fire surrounded by water last night, what about all the millions of people with their millions of individual troubles? NPR reported this morning that there are 7 million people without power today — I turned to my son and said “That’s like everyone in the entire state of Israel.” And what if power isn’t back in time for election day?

And then I think about the election, and how nauseatingly anxious it makes me to think about the election, because now it has this aura of a reality show gone horribly, horribly wrong. And it’s only the future of our country hanging on it. (Not to mention the future of disaster relief for the most populous and economically/culturally/politically significant part of our country — and I say this as a proud Midwesterner, but some things are just facts).

And I realize that I really, really want to believe that a President Romney would step up and meet the challenge of a post-Sandy America and also be capable of handling any other future disasters well — and yet, as non-partisan as I try to be, there is just nothing about the man, his candidacy, or his career that gives me any sense that Romney has that in him.

And then I realize that every single, little thing I’ve heard about the Romney/Ryan campaign has irked me, angered me really, ever since yesterday afternoon, and that that’s pretty much because I want him to be a mensch and acknowledge that what this country needs is a second Obama term and announce that he’s throwing in the towel. And that’s not really a reasonable expectation.

And I think about all the people I know and love who were in Sandy’s path, some of them people I’ve never met, two of them people who dropped out of my life for reasons that are either inexplicable and infuriating or just plain infuriating, and I love them so much and am so worried about them, and I cannot tell them, and that makes me want to punch a wall.

I know everyone says at this point in a developing disaster that “we’re Americans and the good thing about Americans is we pick ourselves up,” but really, everyone pretty much picks themselves up, as best they can. No one people has a lock on that, really, nor on the impulse of kindness toward strangers and neighbors in the wake of disaster.

What we do have here that’s different from a lot of places (such as the Caribbean) is a lot of resources and a lot of wealth. We have not, traditionally, always spent our wealth particularly wisely (suddenly the infrastructure conversation is very, very interesting, isn’t it America?), but we have it and we can draw on it. The challenge will be then to use our resources, both human and treasure, wisely.

And that brings me right back to being anxious about the election.

 

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