Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath...In My Neighborhood

It’s been about two weeks since Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. Luckily, we were spared any real devastation because we are inland. But, it’s been two weeks later and we still aren’t getting the gas we need for our cars. Only one quarter of the stations are open in my neighborhood at any one time…most times not even that many. We have 30,000 people who live in my little 16 square mile area and they all need gas. Only one station was open this morning and my husband got on line at 6:45 am. We have power, so it’s not because people need it for their generators. The lines are at least an hour to two hours long most of the time. If you get gas in an hour you are lucky. My husband just got back after a two hour wait this morning, but our gas gauge was on empty and we had no choice. And we are the lucky ones!

Now how about those who are taking advantage of this crisis? There are plenty of them price gouging because people are desperate. There are many filling up 5 gallon cans and then reselling the gas for twice or triple the price they paid. The lines for gas cans move faster, so they can go back and refill and make a killing. Did I mention there are no gas cans in the area for sale? They are sold out everywhere you call. We were just caught unprepared for this catastrophic event. No one could have imagined that a “super storm” could have done so much damage and destruction. No one thought it would affect the supply of gas for so long. Our Governor, Andrew Cuomo, didn’t think so. He said the problem would clear up in a couple of days. It didn’t. If anything it got worse. So yesterday, Governor Cuomo did what Chris Christie did two weeks ago and passed an odd/even rule for gas stations. That should cut down on the lines. It worked in New Jersey and hopefully it will work here. It was a no brainer, and many of us are wondering why it took so long to use common sense.

Well, now we have gas to get to work. That’s all we use it for. I hope by next weekend we will have much shorter lines to deal with. It’s stressful enough. I cannot even begin to imagine how those who experienced flooding of their houses or the entire loss of their homes and possessions are coping. I do know that out in Long Island, after 13 days of no power, the people are going crazy. They can’t heat their homes. Some have no generators and the temperature in their houses dropped to 45 degrees. Some are sick and wearing coats inside their homes. The power company, LIPA, gives them no answers. I saw on the news that people were yelling at each other on the street, I don’t even know why. Many went over to the empty LIPA offices to protest. The Governor spoke harsh words to the power company, but 160,000 plus house are still without power today.

My cousin was one of those without power. Her husband has MS and is in the later stages. His health is fragile. He has special medical equipment he needs, which runs on electricity. She borrowed a generator from her brother to help keep her food from spoiling and to run his equipment. She runs a daycare in her home and takes care of her husband. She was cooking and boiling water to keep the temperature in her house above 60 degrees. The generator was great for a while, but then they weren’t able to get the gas they needed to run it all the time. How’s that for adding insult to injury? She could only run it on and off for two hours at a time to conserve gas. After 11 days without power, and she is on the LIPA medical priority list, her husband had to go to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. I don’t know how she managed that long. I really don’t. She has always been a trooper. Her life has been difficult. But this would have sent me over the deep end and yet she managed to cope and deal with it the best she could.

Today, my daughter and her boyfriend, along with some friends, are using some of the last quarter of a tank of gas they have to go help victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Far Rockaways. They will be handing out emergency supplies to those in need. I imagine they will have a lot to say after seeing the devastation first hand and speaking with the people there. It’s one thing to see it on the news and another to be right there. I’m sure it will be heartbreaking. I’m proud of my daughter and her friends for being so compassionate and giving. If anything good has come out of all this at all, it’s seeing people, good people, come together to help those in need doing whatever they can.

The holidays are already upon us. It’s the season of giving. I don’t know any better way to celebrate the spirit of the season than by helping the victims of Hurricane Sandy. We can’t changed what happened, or replace their losses, but we can show them people care and give them a little kindness and compassion to be thankful for. There, but for the grace of God, go we.

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