In 15 days I will become 60 years old. I have seen a lot during that time but, I have never seen any destruction that equals what happened when Hurricane Sandy hit the NY City area.

I remember a few years ago looking at a television program on the weather channel that gave a scenario of what would happen if a major storm such as this one would hit this area. The program described what would be vulnerable in this great city. What was predicted became a reality during this storm of all storms. Places like the Rockaways, the coastlines in Long Island, Staten Island, the coastline of southern Brooklyn and the financial center in lower Manhattan all became victims of the raging storm surge.

I watched in horror as over 100 homes in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaways were consumed by fire. That fire began in one home but spread quickly.  Those who were there described how high winds and a high tide kept fire fighters at bay.

I was glued to the television screen watching many brave news reporters from all the local stations. They told stories about how many of the neighborhoods throughout the tri-state area were affected by water damage and falling trees.

The area that I live in was not damaged very badly. The complex I live in has its’ own power plant so no one here experienced any lack of electricity and we are far away from coastline.

Looking from my window on the 8th floor it did not appear that the high winds did any damage.  I could see that one tree had succumbed to the high winds but when I ventured outside I soon realized that I only had part of the story.  It became clear very rapidly that Hurricane Sandy had come for a visit. Just in my immediate area alone there were 10 trees that met their end to the high winds. This is a large complex, so I’m sure the damage was the same all over.

My family has lived here for over 40 years and I know for a fact that all of those trees have been here as long as that.

What makes this area nice is that there are two small shopping malls that are easy to get to. One is like a strip mall (called mall #2) since you enter each store from the outside. The other mall (called mall #1), which is the one I usually frequent, is enclosed.

The day after the storm I went to mall #1. It was not surprising to see that most stores were open. In this mall there is a grocery store, two drug stores, a hardware store, three restaurants, a bank, a clothing store, a variety discount store, a sneaker store and two newspaper stores.

This is a fairly large mall and there are many people in the neighborhood who rely on the services it provides.

When I entered the grocery store what I saw was like a scene from a disaster area I had watched on television from some faraway place. Since many were stocking up to prepare for the storm, some of the shelves were empty. I had never seen this before. Not in my neighborhood.

There was one scene that really made me realize how blessed I am that I was not affected by the storm. At every electric outlet throughout this mall there was someone charging up their cell phone.  This meant that there were many in the immediate area that had lost power.

What it had also shown me was that we have become very dependent on our communication devices and we need them to stay in contact with everyone who is important to us. This can include calling our places of employment to inform them about our situation, calling to make sure our loved ones are OK and to let them know we are OK.

At the beginning of this post I told you that I will be 60 years old soon. In all that time I can only remember the NYC Transit system being shut down only twice, last year for Hurricane Irene and now.  Every form of mass transit in the tri-state area was brought to a halt. This included the whole subway and bus system, Metro North (which is a rail system that services people from NYC to Connecticut), The Long Island Railroad and all of NJ Transit. In addition all the tunnels that surround the area were closed.

Looking in retrospect, it was the smartest thing our elected officials could do. As of this morning there were 72 deaths (in NY and NJ) related to this storm. It’s easy to see that there could have been many more casualties if those systems continued to run.

Even as I write this there are two tunnels still closed and that is due to the millions of gallons of water that now reside in those places.

The NYC marathon was cancelled. This has become a November staple for as long as I can remember.

Despite all the destruction and loss of life there is another American institution that must be put on hold. That is the election of 2012. This is important because in this election we will choose the person who will lead the country for the next four years. My polling place is intact. There are many sites especially in those damaged areas that will not be open but arrangements are being made to insure that those votes are cast.

It is important that regardless of what is going on; we must take a moment to exercise our right to vote. There are many who came before us who paid the ultimate price so that we could enjoy this freedom. This will be my 18 year olds’ first election day. I look forward to sharing it with him.

The events that took place during this last week will stay in our minds forever.  There will be many stories that need to be told. I can’t wait to tell my grandkids about the storm that shut down NYC.

For those of us who survived we must remain thankful.  We must also continue to reach out to those who will need help in their recovery for the many years to come.

The time is now when we have to let those who are closest to us know how we feel about them. Don’t waste another moment, if your cell phone is charged, call all those people now and most importantly don’t forget to reach out to the one that is in the next room.



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