Posted by: Lauren--NY | November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: “I Saw The Empire State Laid Low”

“Yet, as only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.” ~Dorothy Parker

New York City is the center of the universe, whether people want to admit it or not. It’s the strange, wonderful, metaphysical link between the sophisticated Londoners of today and the puritans who once left Britain. It’s a link between Europe and America. It’s representative of the wealth gap, the generation gap, the artistic world and the corporate world. It’s the worst and best of America, the worst and best of the world. All things must pass through here, must come somehow through this portal, irrespective of whether they stay–and they often don’t stay. But this melting pot is the closest you can get to absolutely everything in such a small space, and we don’t take it lightly. We have never taken it lightly.

It makes you face everything, forces you to grasp the dichotomies between the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the young and old, black and white, gay and straight. It’s a microcosm of humanity crammed onto tiny, low-lying islands, and it isn’t lost on me that the restrictions that make New York City the wake-up call that it is are the same restrictions that make it vulnerable to attack, whether by terrorism or by nature.

However, we are the center of the universe, and we will rebuild, even if we have to do it every ten years, or every twelve, or every fifteen. We will continue to be that twisted, dark, rebellious and shining example of everything humanity is and isn’t, at the same time, with all the burdens it may carry.

My dear friend Alison Thompson, who gave me an interview in May 2010 during her time working in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake, dispatches to you from Rockaway, Queens in New York City after Hurricane Sandy.

Alison Thompson started volunteering in NYC after 9/11, was instrumental in tsunami relief in Sri Lanka after their Christmas Day Tsunami in 2004 (she created the first tsunami disaster center ever in that country or region) and moved to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake to be the medical director for Sean Penn’s JPHRO, which still runs the biggest IDP (internally displaced persons) camp in that country. So as far as I’m concerned, what she says, goes. I have permission to print the following note from her, one of my greatest heroines of all time.

Here’s Ali:

“How do I begin to share with you about what I am experiencing right now, Sunday Nov. 4th–3 war ships are sitting just offshore and Chinook helicopters are buzzing above me as 20 blocks to my south, gangs walk the streets in the dark searching for gas and food. I am walking back through the gates of hell in streets filled with discarded life-long possessions and mothers begging me for insulin for their children–17 miles of no power/water and churches and houses burned to the ground with steps leading to nowhere…you would think I was in Haiti, but I’m in the United States of America–in Rockaway, Queens, in one of the most complicated disasters I’ve ever seen. Communications are down, and I’m the only medic on this site tonight til back-up comes tomorrow. This disaster is too big for aid groups and Gov’ts to do alone–it’s just too big–everyone is needed to reach outside of themselves to help. Do not sit and watch it unravel like we did helplessly with Katrina–do something. Rise up, volunteers of America!!

“Two corrections officers just showed up to help; thank you! The big storm hits us on Wednesday–pray–even if u don’t believe in anything! Hedge your bets!”

Yes, another Nor’Easter is predicted to hit us on Wednesday. And we are frightened, but it won’t take us down. Having said that, help is needed. You’ve all been watching the news; you don’t need me to tell you that people have lost everything. You don’t need me to talk down to you. You need to donate, if you can.

From Jennifer Gardner Trulson (author of Where You Left Me): “In the event anyone is looking for a place to send donations of clothing, cleaning supplies, baby goods, non-perishables, etc. for Hurricane Sandy Victims, Staten Island has set up a warehouse where items can be shipped, stored and then distributed to needy areas. The address is NY Container Terminal, Attn: Sandy Relief Warehouse, 300 Western Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10303.”

You can also donate to Sandy victims via text message. To give $10 to the American Red Cross for Sandy relief, text REDCROSS to 90999. To give $10 to AmeriCares for Sandy relief, text LIVE to 25383. Lifehacker has a few more options here. TreeHugger lists some more ways you can help here. This is a general link from the Occupy folks to help the Rockaways.

If you can give anything, give. This is bad. The worst natural disaster the tristate area has ever seen. We need your help, and we will pay you back, because it’s our way. Help us now, and you will see the fruits later, because New York will rise again.

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The Grotto Blog by Lauren E. Moccio is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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