Hurricane Sandy & Election 2012: We’re in this together.”

Melissa, my Monday yoga instructor, likes to start by surveying the class: she asks us to share our names and mention any injuries or requests.   This week, the second day the YMCA was open since Hurricane Sandy, she added: “tell us where you are right now.”  She explained how practicing yoga doesn’t mean you’re always calm or never have a bad day. She admitted that she’d been taking out her frustration by arguing with her husband, as she tried to keep her two young sons busy and maintain household equilibrium without electricity and heat.

Many of the respondents were still without power; some were living with friends, some were just grateful to be able to get to the Y, which had welcomed everyone from the community to shower and charge phones and laptops. Going to the Y gives a good idea how people are coping as the town slowly starts to repair downed lines and remove fallen trees.

(photo-Stacey Caron)

Tuesday, I went to an abs class. It’s a quick 20 -minute blast; I didn’t have time for yoga. Spin follows abs, which I don’t yet do despite being told it would be good for my outdoor cycling.  Even those without power at home were talking about the condition of their shore houses.  (in New Jersey, the beach is called the shore.) What a difference a day makes.

Today, Dana, the Wednesday teacher, talked about gratitude and grace. And guilt. I listened. It’s hard not to feel guilty when I unroll my mat next to someone who came to class after spending the night in the very same room. With the drop in temperatures, the Y has become the shelter, replacing the middle school that opened for students after six days.  Many people are entering their 10th day without power.

Crews of utility workers, like army battalions, have been deployed from as far away as Illinois. Welcomed as if they’re liberating a village from tyranny, they’re working long days.  A five-minute drive into town takes nearly 30 as I negotiate closed roads. A visit to the local grocery store depicts how dependent we are on deliveries. The entire prepared and frozen food sections were cordoned off by yellow hazard tape, the food, past its sell by date, condemned. Yet there’s a shortage of dumpsters, so the cases remain full, the food further spoiling.

There are no commuter trains to Manhattan, only buses during rush hour. I usually travel to New York City after the early morning, so now can’t go at all. New Jersey Transit’s website says the line “remains suspended until further notice.”  I can’t say I’m encouraged.

I stayed up way too late watching the election returns and while the political commentators claim there’s no clear mandate, that we remain a nation divided, I disagree.

People come together in a crisis. There are shelters and food kitchens, coat drives and donation centers. We take in our family and friends; we share rides, we combine classrooms from one school into another.

We can create bi-partisan partnerships to rebuild the shoreline, to increase mass transit, to take climate change seriously, to fix the economy, provide health care and shelter, and bolster education. That’s the mandate. It’s crystal clear.

As President Obama said, “We’re all in this together.”

(photo-Daily Herald)

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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24 Responses to Hurricane Sandy & Election 2012: We’re in this together.”

  1. I’m so sorry you’re still in such bad shape in New Jersey. It must be difficult, but I think your attitude is the only way to go. I hope it won’t be long now before things improve. And yes, the only good thing about disasters is that they (should) bring people together.

    Like

  2. judy says:

    Thank you for this “real” story and positive attitude about our country. We lived through Hurricane Fran in 1996. Neighbors helped each other, churches got together, and barriers broke down. This is the good from the bad. My best wishes for all still struggling from Sandy.

    Like

  3. zannyro says:

    I so hope that things get better for all soon…our thoughts are with you!

    Like

  4. Lovely post. I agree that crises bring us together. My warm thoughts and prayers continue to be with you all. xo

    Like

  5. adinparadise says:

    I think my family in NJ got their power connected again today. 🙂 It’s amazing how people come together to help one another in a crisis.

    Like

  6. You know that I’m hoping the best for you, but I also got a little stuck on how much you work out… my abs cringed in response. You are amazing Lisa! You’ll get through this. Deep breaths and some time to just process. Hugs.

    Like

    • I mostly do yoga- I hate most gym stuff. I don’t use any machines. I have flabby arms and remember, I don’t have kids at home, no pets, not working, not writing a novel, so I have the time. I have to do something now that I’m cycling less — today I get to shovel snow! The poor Northeast, we’ve had our share for a decade I think.

      On Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 11:31 PM, cyclingrandma

      Like

      • It does seem that every year it’s something… weather wise. Last year there was that huge snow storm in October! Eek. Love that I don’t live there anymore, but feel for all that do. It’s still home, in many ways.

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  7. So very well put Lisa. My son just got power back and yesterday had 5 inches of snow, his girlfriend’s job is gone. The election has lifted us all.

    Like

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  9. Louise G. says:

    I am so grateful Diana sent me your way this morning. it is inspiring to read your words and feel the acceptance, and gratitude, you express.

    Like Diana, I’m in Calgary — we’re getting dumped on with snow, and falling into a deep freeze — but I have heat and electricity, and write this from the comfort of my home.

    I too am grateful.

    Thanks for your beautiful inspiration this morning!

    Like

    • Thank you! Hope you don’t get too much snow. This snowstorm didn’t last but did leave even more without power and is hampering recovery efforts.

      On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:38 AM, cyclingrandma

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  10. mrs fringe says:

    Hi, Diana sent me. 🙂 I was fortunate enough not to lose power from Hurricane Sandy (in Manhattan), but have many friends who did. My kids’ godparents in NJ are still without power. I’m heartened by the election results, and hoping bipartisan caring, efforts, and common sense will take root and grow in our national community.

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  12. Jo Bryant says:

    Community is so important in times like these. But you attitude is inspiring and I hope that life soon takes on a semblance of normality. {{{hugs}}} coming at you from across the sea.

    Like

    • Thanks! We’re very lucky. The town is improving- more roads cleared and most everyone back on the grid. It’s the larger things that will take time- repairing the shoreline, the train system, etc. I hope we rebuild smart and consider climate change, erosion, more mass transit.. etc.. but who knows. We’re not leaders in those fields, sadly. But it has been amazing to see these utility crews from all around the country converge here. Seems to be a huge opportunity for new jobs.

      On Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 2:55 PM, cyclingrandma

      Like

  13. We are in this together, regardless of where or how we live, our politics, religion, or lack thereof. I just wish it didn’t take crisis and disaster to remind us of that fact.

    Thanks for this first person perspective. Thanks to Diana for featuring this post.

    Be well,
    Kina

    Like

    • Hi, thanks for stopping in and signing up! I’ve met some great people thanks to Diana! Yes, I agree.. too bad it takes a crisis to bring people together. We take everything for granted until it’s no longer there.

      On Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 8:49 PM, cyclingrandma

      Like

  14. sued51 says:

    Well-written. Those of us who escaped unscathed feel SO for those in devastated NJ and NY. Bless your spirit!

    Like

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