Reflection following Hurricane Sandy

Telling our stories is a powerful form of ministry with one another. It is in this spirit that Coco, Cooper, Michele and I share our stories this morning. This week has been both emotionally exhausting and incredibly fortunate for my home. Being in zone B, we were not asked to evacuate ahead of time, so we hunkered down, stored up supplies, froze extra water in zip lock bags just in case, and prepared for a night of computer games and a good book.

We live two blocks from the Con Edison station that had a transformer blow. I personally missed the great flash of white light that lit the sky – I was busy staring at my computer shutting down.

The East River, typically 2.5 avenues away (or the one half mile from our front door) in Stuyvesant Town where we live, became our neighbor for a night and part of a morning. Although it receded by the next day, the streets were wet through Thursday. The power was out, hot water was gone, and running water came and went for up to twelve hours at a time. Some of our neighbors were out of gas, but we were fortunate. Our building did not suffer that level of damage.

Over the next few days, we would climb down the ten flights of stairs with our flashlights to grab some bread from bodegas that were getting rid of the last of their supplies – grateful that no one was price gouging their goods.

Many eight story stall trees were dead on the grown. Twelve foot lengths of pier, giant rivets and all, were as far in as Ave C – leaving wreckage to the cars they rested upon, amidst other cars literally tossed about by the East River.

Traffic in Manhattan, usually a bitter affair, was pedestrian friendly, almost devoid of any honking horns, and civil in a way I could never imagine.

In our community, neighbors and resident staff were taking turns visiting each of the 30,000+ homes without power to make sure folks were alright. Letters were circulated asking us to check on our neighbors who were elders – who had no hope of climbing down, let along up, ten flights of stairs.

One café brought out a generator to the street, and set up a power strip so that strangers could recharge their cell phones and laptops. This may seem small, but when you have no ability to tell anyone that you’re fine – this was a great act of charity and relief. When we finally had cell coverage again on Wednesday, I was heartened to hear of the stories of outreach and support organized by our members and Rev. Ana. I felt cared for by their leadership.

We finally did evacuate on Thursday to the magical land of “Park Slope” which was high, dry and heavily caffeinated. We felt very blessed. We are returning home later today.

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