The Other New York

My phone didn’t stop ringing for days when Hurricane Sandy hit New York. Friends and family saw pictures of the devastation and called to see if I was okay. They didn’t realize that New York topography is highly variable. I am at a relatively high point, and I was spared the storm surge. Although the streets were dark just a few miles away, my area never lost power.

That’s not to say that the neighborhood was unaffected. With the subway system shut down and many businesses without electricity, most people stayed home for a week. They became bored and went out to find something to do. Stuck in the neighborhood because of the limited transportation, these residents flocked to the restaurants and the stores where employees managed to arrive. My normally quiet neighborhood looked like Times Square in rush hour!

On the weekend after the storm, the neighborhood transformed once again. The local fire station and several pubs joined forces to collect donations for an area hard-hit by Sandy’s wrath. Within a few hours after signs appeared on street corners announcing the collection drop-off point, everyone was flocking to that location. The organizers did a great job posting what was needed and where to deposit it. After reading the signs, I went to the nearest grocery store and returned in the steady stream of shoppers, carrying four bags of canned food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries. I went home and emptied my cupboards and returned for a third time on Sunday with a winter coat, shawl, and shoes. The pace at the donation center never slackened, and it was often difficult to walk on the sidewalk because so many people were getting involved.

It warmed my heart and made me proud of my neighbors. We were spared the devastation, but we shared the pain. Whoever thinks New Yorkers are unfeeling should have seen that scene.

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