Were NYers with Power in the Dark about Sandy’s Impact?
Or, maybe I should just speak for myself… It’s been almost a week since Hurricane Sandy hit and no one could have imagined the damaging effects that it had. We’ve had hurricanes before – the cable might flicker or go out, a few trees go down, but Sandy?… This is something that we haven’t encountered… Perhaps that’s why I initially didn’t think it was as bad as it was. Or, perhaps it’s because I was employing my limited Manhattan lens. Uptown, there was relatively no effect. Yeah, there were some downed trees and losses of power and transportation, but for the most part, things came back relatively quickly.
As I looked out of my window, it was business as usual. Stores were open and people were moving about their daily business as if nothing ever happened. And for us, that was true. Looking at the news, I saw essentially the same thing. It wasn’t until the controversy over the ING NYC Marathon and the backlash that I really saw how badly affected New York’s boroughs were. Until that point, the majority of what I saw on the news was either in New Jersey or just had to do with NYC power and transportation. Maybe I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that it could be beyond what was being reported…
Either way, the reality is that so many of the outer boroughs were severely impacted by the storm and are still dealing with the aftermath. I started to hear stories of my friends whose homes were flooded, without electricity and completely damaged. Then heard news stories of the same and that’s when it clicked. Shame on me! How could I think that the marathon should have moved forward?! Shame on me for being disconnected and not seeing beyond Manhattan and relying solely on the news to know that the boroughs were hurting.
If Staten Island, Queens and parts of Brooklyn had been restored as quickly as Manhattan perhaps the marathon should have gone on, but the fact that folks are in dire straights was humbling and sobering. On Friday, when the announcement came that the marathon was pushing head, I was for it. After all, transportation and power were expected be back by Sunday and the city and charities needed the money. But, after the outrage over the decision to move forward, the coverage shifted from Manhattan to the outer boroughs and it became very apparent that the situation was and is much worse than just having inconvenient commutes and no power.
As a child, you think adults don’t sleep, die or have any limits. There comes a point when you realize that everyone sleeps, dies, and there are limits. Until Saturday, that was New York for me. I looked at NYC as a place that could immediately bounce back and power through any trouble. After all, we powered through after September 11th like superheros.
My limited perspective came from weathering the storm unscathed… Depending on where you are in New York, you have a different perspective of the enormity of the storm’s impact and the way that the city prepared or responded. Watching the coverage, some people were at home without water damage, but had no power and criticized the city for not coming to check on them. Then you look at Staten Island where the homes looked like they’d been through a shredder. And where twenty-two of the 41 deaths occurred as a result of the storm – including the two little boys who were torn from their mother and swept away in the flood water. NY1 did a series on Staten Island, a couple of weeks ago with the title “The Forgotten Borough”. This rang true for many last week and even today.