I am writing this for my non-New York based readers of which there are many. As you probably know the New York metropolitan area was hit by a major storm earlier this week. I live on high ground in the center of Brooklyn near Prospect Park. Living through Sandy was extremely scary as it sounded like jet engines were taking off on the side of my building. The wall of my six-story brick building built in 1940, would actually shake when the winds got bad. I have been extremely fortunate however in that the roof of this building held, and there was no damage to windows or the structure’s overall integrity.
Within two days some businesses were back and running. The day after the hurricane struck I witnessed a fully uniformed sanitation worker removing debris and a postal worker delivering mail. Meanwhile most privately owned businesses were shuttered. The New York City subway is only partially operational and there is no practical way of getting from Brooklyn into Manhattan. As far as I know most of lower Manhattan is still without power. Most of my friends are struggling artists who rent tiny apartments in extremely old multi-unit buildings. I know they are safe but I have no idea how much they have lost. We are all losing income and work.
Coney Island USA, the non-for-profit organization committed to preserving the traditional spirit and history of that area was badly hit. I have gotten conflicting reports on the damage but as far as I know the entire first floor was underwater. They have lost irreplaceable memorabilia, and the ancient building in which they call home as suffered extreme water damage.
As rough as it has been for us, there are tens of thousands who have it much worse. An untold number of people throughout the Eastern seaboard are without power. Some have lost their homes while others have suffered great damage. The death toll for New York City has reached 40, but there are many seniors and disabled trapped in difficult situations with no power, non-working toilets in high-rise buildings with no working elevators. Due to these extreme conditions everyone here worries the death toll could climb if power is not restored soon. There has also been looting and violence especially in lower-income areas.
I have lost jobs and I am never in a great place financially but I just donated to the American Red Cross and I am urging everyone else to do the same. You can also help out by donating blood, as blood supplies were badly depleted due to the storm.
Many have a perception of New York City as being a rich person’s playground. While there is some truth to that reputation, the majority of New Yorkers are struggling artists, the working poor, and middle class folks just trying to make it. We also have countless seniors, disabled and other vulnerable citizens that trapped in difficult situations. Some families in Long Island, New Jersey and the surrounding areas have lost everything. Even homes in Brooklyn and Queens have been completely washed out or burned to the ground. Many families were in a difficult economic situation to begin with, and now this. Please give what you can, your donation will be used to give water, food and shelter to people who desperately need it.
We will bounce back, and hopefully construct more safety measures to prevent this kind of widespread damage if another storm like this hits us again. We are only as strong as our weakest link, and right now there are parts of this area that are extremely in need. Please do what you can to help out.