Hurricane Sandy was quite the event. It all started before it even began: we were put on alert, stores were emptied of their supplies, and traffic jams amassed as entire towns evacuated. When she came,Sandytore across the coast, stirring up a bit of exciting wind in some places, while utterly decimating others. The response was immediate and dramatic; the media became one collective Sandystalker, aid organizations jumped to action, shelters were set up, donation funds opened. But nearly a month later, the hullabaloo has pretty much died down, and we find ourselves distracted by the drama du jour.Sandy’s old news. So what do we do now?
For many, Sandy is not old news. She’s a house in Rockaway that will be uninhabitable for months; she’s an amusement park that might generate negative revenue this year; she’s a family’s bank account that’s dangerously close to not cutting it this month. She’s in a dwindling municipal budget that can’t cope with the loss of seashore and disrupted residents. There are still ways to help.
The Red Cross is the largest and most obvious relief organization (with good reason). For those still unable to live at home, for instance, 1-800-RED-CROSS will find you a nearby shelter. If you’re looking to donate time, skills, or money to a local charity, http://CharityNavigator.Org/ is a good place to start. http://newyorkcares.org/volunteer/disaster/ is another Sandy-specific volunteer application. Ask around. Call people or organizations you know have helped and volunteer whatever you can. Many local groups (often religious or community centers) are still accepting food, clothing, and blanket donations, as winter continues to approach. Sandy’s 15 minutes are over, but there are still so many people who need help and so many ways to help them. Be scrappy, evaluate your resources, and get creative!
Admittedly, given a do-over option, no one would opt in on Sandy again. But that doesn’t mean this experience hasn’t offered each of us something potentially very positive: perspective. These high-intensity situations illuminate how we prepare ourselves, how each of us reacts under stress, and how good (or not so good) we are at the age-old scary task of asking for help.
Take a look at your situation: maybe you were more fortunate than others (or even than you thought you would be). What does that say about your expectations? Maybe your mother lives in Hobokenor Deal and, despite the years of tension and anger, you found yourself worried sick about her. Is it time to take a fresh look at that relationship
Perhaps you were one of the worst hit. There are people you could call for help, but you haven’t picked up that phone yet. Are you afraid of admitting something’s wrong? Do you feel guilty, because there must be someone worse-off than you? No matter what your situation is or what your reaction to the storm was - it was valid. We all cope with trauma differently. In an emergency, your body and mind do what they need to do to keep you alive and safe.
But now you’ve had the luxury of time. Evaluate what you’ve done with it and examine what it says about your life, your relationships , and how you view the world. Inspect your perspective. Is it time for a mental shift? If you are part of the lucky group that made it through relatively unscathed, look into helping those who weren’t so lucky. And take some time to be grateful. If you’ve had a tougher time of this, seek help without shame. Reach out to organizations, such as the Red Cross, who are still actively helping. Look into whether or not you qualify for FEMA assistance which can be found at www.disasterassistance.gov. There may be funds available.
Whatever you do, don’t be alone.
Connect to others. For instance, find someone in a similar situation and make a pact to help each other through this, whether by talking it out over coffee or rebuilding your houses. And, don’t hesitate from getting therapy if anxiety or depression is taking a toll.
Take stock of what you have, what (and whom) you love, and what you could use a little more of. Turn this situation into an opportunity to nurture and augment your life . If you just reach out a hand, you’ll probably find that someone will take it. There’s really no need to know who is leading and who’s following.
The time for heroism is over. We have spent our collective adrenaline surges on dealing with downed wires, lost lives and property and the penetrating cold. Now, is the aftermath, when follow through is more important than good wishes.
When a neighbor or loved one suffers a loss it’s natural to be there in the moment of pain. You visit the hospital, you go to a funeral, or you invite him or her over after a nasty breakup. But, we must remember, that our presence counts just as much, if not more, months later, when that person feels alone.
We tend to forget that follow through counts.
Useful Relief Information:
1-800-RED-CROSS for help.
www.redcross.org for donations.
If you’re looking to donate time, skills, or money to a local charity, http://CharityNavigator.Org/ is a good place to start.
http://newyorkcares.org/volunteer/disaster/ is a Sandy specific site for donating time and money.
http://teamrubiconusa.org/about/volunteer-faq/ is a veteran run group that provides relief and volunteer opportunities.
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