I really don’t know where to begin with this blog posting, and some of what I’m going to write about is old business by now. Two significant storms have come and gone through the East Coast, and though the area where I live was not badly damaged by either of the storms, some parts of NYC, N.J. and Conn were devastated by the winds, the water and snow, and thousands of lives have been turned upside down. Every day I hear about people, who for instance, were told to kept their car in a garage only to find the garage was flooded and their car is now totaled. Our grandson has a school mate who no longer has a home because one side of his house was blown off. I’ve met families who live in apartment buildings that either still do not have electricity and water, or they have electricity but no water, and as I write this blog they have been living this way for nearly three weeks.
About a week after Hurricane Sandy struck, the clouds began to gather and an ominous quiet hung in the air. We knew another storm was headed our way, but everyone was hopeful that it would not bring too much trouble. The weather forecasters were not encouraging and warned viewers to take precautions. Again we waited for this next storm to arrive, the same way we had waited days and days for Sandy to reach us. And then on Wednesday afternoon rain and a snow began to fall. That day I had been volunteering in a community center that services a low income project in Brooklyn. One-third of the apartments had been without heat, water, electricity since the hurricane and we were delivering needed items. It had been plenty nasty earlier that day with a cold drizzling rain, but when I headed home later that afternoon, and stepped out into that blowing sloppy snow, my heart went out to those people who had no choice but to sit out this storm in the cold.
I usually find the first snowfall of the season to be a lovely time. The air is crisp, the light subdued and it feels magical. But this time I felt dread. After such a disastrous storm only a week earlier with so many people now homeless and or contending with miserable living conditions, I knew that this was not going to feel like a wonderland snowfall. It was treachery. My decorative cabbages on the terrace, dusted with snow were lovely, yet they reflected misery, not beauty.
No one was ready for the freezing cold and snow, though here it was, a full blown snowstorm, and looking out onto the city streets from my comfortable rooms I knew how fortunate I had been. That afternoon the shoppers and kids coming home from school could all dash home through the wet streets knowing that they would have a warm place to hang their wet gear, take off their shoes and not have to deal with what the victims of Sandy were now coping with.
The water tower across the way, a spot I often watch as the sun crosses the horizon, gathered snow and looked beautifully bleak in the growing darkness.
Then that evening the streets had a festive quality with the reflection of glowing lights and human tracks in the snowy carpet. Undaunted, taxi drivers traveled down town, garbage trucks gathered trash as usual while a few hearty teenagers had a snowball fight up the block. I cannot help but feel uneasy when I think about how lucky I am, how lucky my family is, knowing there such misery so close to my doorstep. I give a bit of money, a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. I donate clothing. I volunteered in a community center. And this weekend we are taking care of our grandson while his mom and dad travel out to Far Rockaway Beach to volunteer their time and skills. We do what we can, I tell myself, and I promise never to take for granted the sweet taste of my life.