Devastating. Heart-breaking. Surreal. Incomprehensible.
Sunday night was honestly one of the scariest nights of my life. I live just outside of one of the NYC evacuation zones so I hunkered down in my apartment glued to the television and my computer. My mom lost power as of 2pm on Sunday, so I couldn't call her. My building started shaking like a freight train was running directly through the hallway. I was scared, I was crying, and I was alone. My social media outlets became my lifeline to everyone else and what they were going through. We were all freaking out by what we heard and saw on TV. We shared virtual tears as the East River and the Hudson River both breeched their banks and slowly crept across Manhattan. I saw neighborhoods I know so well being inundated with water and knew that life in New York City was immediately going to change. I finally pried myself away from the television around 1am and attempt to sleep. I was awake by 5am and back in front of the television. It was still dark out so I knew I had a few more hours until I would start to see how hard Hurricane Sandy hit our area. I could never have imagined what would come next.
Floods. Fires. Death. Destruction.
I sat in my apartment on Monday morning and sobbed. The photos were devastating. Breezy Point Queens, only 20 miles from my house lost 111 houses due to fire. NICU babies had to be evacuated from the NYU Langone hospital due to power issues. 8 square miles of Manhattan were in complete darkness and still underwater. The Jersey Shore and Long Beach, Long Island were under feet and feet of sand. How did my beloved tri-state get hit so hard by this tragedy?
I was VERY lucky. I had lights flickering and nerves rattling, but I was fine. My neighborhood was full of wind debris and lots of downed trees/power lines, but we were all ok. I worked from home on Monday in a complete daze. My clueless coworkers on the other side of the country were asking me ignorant questions and upper management barely addressed our situation. Not all of our NYC employees were accounted for until Tuesday night, yet no one from executive seemed to worry about this. This made me very sad. The NYC employees stayed connected as best as we could until we knew everyone was safe. This was midnight on Tuesday. Management said "NYC employees were in high spirits." I call bullshit. How could we be given the circumstances?
I continued to watch the news until I just couldn't watch anymore. My heart was full of sadness so I turned it off. I continued with social media and became an absolute Twitter junkie. Family and friends started to reach out via text, emails, and phone calls. I was surprised by many of these calls and disappointed by the lack of contact from others. "Best friends" still haven't checked in on me. It's Thursday. I sucked up my pride and reached out to people that I've had fallings out with over the past few months. I wanted to pass the olive branch and give a place to stay. It was a nice way to reconnect and appreciated.
I was searching for ways to help my neighbors, friends, and family. I offered my apartment for hot showers and phone charges yet no one came. Everyone has been fiercely loyal staying put in their apartment, which I can understand. I donated money to the local Red Cross. I gathered donations of food, socks, and baby supplies for the local housing projects that got evacuated. I volunteered to collect additional donations for the displaced and homeless storm victims this Friday night. Yet, I feel like it is not enough.
I know my city is resilient and we can pull together in a time of devastation. We've done it before and we will do it again. I just don't know if I can ever comprehend the magnitude of loss that so many friends and family are facing this week. I don't think any of us can.
I am working on putting together a list of ways to help my community as well as those with gluten-free needs in the tri-state area. I've already done a lot but I know there is much more to do as we are on a very long road to recovery. Please stay tuned for my Friday morning post. Once you read it, please share with anyone and everyone you can. Even if you are far away, you can help.