Hurricane Sandy has finished its course across the eastern seaboard, and it has done to New Jersey and New York what Sherman did to Georgia. Atlantic City was briefly claimed for the sea. New York City has taken a staggering blow. I can’t imagine the flooded subways will reopen, in some places, for weeks. NYU Medical Center, in an astonishing feat of intrepidity in the face of danger, was evacuated in the midst of the gale. The ambulance drivers, nurses, police, physicians and students who carried out that horrifying necessity (including the evacuation of the 9th floor NICU unit with no power, no light, and no elevators), are stunning examples of the best we have among us.
So far I’ve heard from most of my friends out east. It seems as though everyone is ok, but that there is damage everywhere. One friend lost part of his apartment building in the Bronx. Literally. Part of it is gone and they can’t find the part that came off. It’s been blown away somewhere. One friend on Long Island I haven’t heard from yet. I don’t know exactly where he lives, so I don’t know how badly his area was hit.
Disasters tend to crystallize my thoughts about those I care about. I try to imagine what I’d do in their place. How would I measure up? What would I do this morning, looking out at the devastation. In my imagination, I put on a pair of work-gloves and go start clearing the street. Do I really? I don’t know. I admit: I don’t know how to help in those situations. It can be dangerous to just charge in and try to clean things up. There can be downed powerlines, unstable piles of rubble. I don’t advocate leaping in and trying to fix things by one’s self. I think there probably needs to be organization.
Today, be safe. Be grateful. If you can, donate to the Red Cross. And use the button that allows them to use your donation wherever it’s needed most. Frequently, after disasters, the Red Cross ends up with huge influxes of donations that overwhelm their ability to concentrate it all in one place. Allow them to put it where it needs to go. And go give blood. You can find a place to donate blood (or platelets!) here. These things matter, and they help people. Donating blood is essentially painless, and is worth +5 bonus karma, with a psychic reward to be named later. Do it.