Sandy was accurately predicted to be a mega Superstorm days ahead of its arrival. Meteorologists used satellites, computer models, weather balloons, and other instruments to measure the behavior of weather patterns, and ocean and atmospheric conditions. Flooding and widespread power loss was expected. What no one could have predicted was the complete devastation and tragic loss of human life and human suffering. It is heart-wrenching to watch from a distance and beyond my own imaginings.
If gives me pause to see that is possible for people to put aside greed, partisan politics, and ordinary people become heroes. Consider the nurses from the NYU Hospital who evacuated twenty babies from the NICU down nine flights in total darkness with monitors, IVs, and tubes, holding the babes close to them so as not to lose critical warmth. Or, what about those who later did have power, who opened their homes so people could charge their cell phones? And, of course, Obama and Christie are great pals now.
I will admit that I have at times felt a certain disconnect watching this disaster from a distance. In sunny California I can only relate to the inevitable “Big One” that is long overdue. Knock on wood. I grew up practicing emergency earthquake drills in school. Now and before Sandy, I have debated whether or not I should get the three-day emergency supply kit. I usually decide my money would be better spent on something more urgent.
When my husband was in grad school, he had a friend in his department who invited us to their “Harvest Festival.” I had never been to anything like that before. What could that be? Well, it was a true harvesting of about every vegetable known to man, in every shade and color. I thought these guys were prepared for any emergency. They had a healthy garden with fruit trees, vegetables that sat on a whole acre. I’m sure if I had access to those vegetables on a daily basis, I might be vegetarian. I’m sure I would be a lot healthier. They also had a whole basement full of canned and dried goods that would last them for at least a year.
But my point is that this garden, for all their hard work and planning, certainly would not have helped them in a storm like Sandy. There is no foolproof disaster plan. A disaster like this is our big reminder that we are but fragile. We certainly can attempt to prepare for a disaster, but in the end, I think we still really need each other to pull through. I hope in the coming days, weeks, and months that this will not be forgotten.