Letter: Sandy actually was a beautiful “disaster”

A letter recollecting the past couple weeks in Hoboken since Hurricane Sandy.

Sandy’s Flowers

By a Hoboken resident

A full week has past since my region, my community, and the place I call my home was devastated by the worst natural disaster I have personally ever witnessed in my lifetime. With the aftermath very much vividly present, I reflect on the images that were unwillingly singed into my memory. As I ponder the notion of our nation’s resilience, this reflection humbles my soul, raises unyielding questions as to the validity of devastation, and brings to surface the concept of humanity.

Humanity is defined as: all human beings collectively; the human race; the quality or condition of being human; kindness, and benevolence – so simple, yet so powerful. They say that catastrophic events bring out the extremes in people – for best and for worst. I choose to believe it merely makes us all transparent. Consequently meaning that no matter who you are, no matter where you were born, what color your skin is, or what language you speak – your true colors will shine through.

Prior to, after, during and presently I candidly admit that I have never been a witness to this magnitude of compassion and camaraderie. I stand motionless in awe and amazement that with the thousands of inoperative traffic and streetlights I have not seen one car accident. The abundance of volunteers so far exceeded the need that many had to be turned away. The influx of donations was overwhelming to say the least. When one of our city hospitals fell victim to a faulty back up generator, ambulances from all over the country were the ones waiting in line. The staff could not physically remove the patients fast enough.

In my local neighborhood only two blocks withstood the blackout, which affected millions, yet I lost count of the extension cords, power outlets, phone chargers, hot coffee and open doors on those blocks. The deli where I typically call ahead to place my order so I don’t have to wait the five minutes it takes them to prepare it had a line blocks long, day and night graciously serving a limited selection to content, somewhat happy customers.

It’s surprising how irony unravels. No power, no television, no computers nor cell phone service, yet crowds and gatherings of complete strangers talking, laughing and exchanging stories. The sheer sight of out of state utility trucks, one behind the other steadfast north on our debris cluttered highways brought tears to my eyes. The more restrictions our government imposed, the closer we became. All train lines down and strangers offering strangers rides into New York. Some even opening the door to their home for mere acquaintances. Once familiar restaurants and bars would have been unrecognizable if it weren’t for the faint glare of a flashlight and gush of steam coming from the hot food they served.

After this week I hold my head high for my country. I embrace a brand new appreciation for the bare minimums that we typically take for granted. This right here is why I believe we need to reevaluate the situation at hand before we classify it a disaster. If this is a disaster, it is the absolute most beautiful disaster I have ever seen. Events like this force me to seriously doubt America’s vulnerability to catastrophe. Day by day and minute by minute we rebuild our lives and restore normality in our communities.

We all had a choice to be defeated by this storm as individuals or survive together, and together we made the choice to lean forward as one…