I’m fortunate – I live in two places, one in New York City, the other 50 miles outside of NYC, in Connecticut. Unfortunately, both lost power, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy.
All of the buildings on my block in NYC were flooded, and one remains evacuated. My apartment is fine because it’s on the 7th floor, but the garage my car is in became one with the Hudson River when an enraged Sandy and high tide produced a monstrous surge. My new car (less than 1000 miles) is now slimy, dirty, non-functional – totaled.
The sight of water just rushing across West Street (West Side Highway) and surging up the block was astonishing. We watched from our windows in complete amazement. Then the neighborhood went black. The lit outline of the top of the Empire State building was visible in the distance, as was a curiously red blinking traffic signal – but everything else went black.
We, along with many others, had no power, water, gas, heat – and for those in apartments, no elevators — just pitch black stairwells. Then the candles, flashlights, and all kinds of battery operated lights started glowing in the apartment windows lining the block. The surreal nightscape was worthy of the famous Greenwich Village Halloween parade which was scheduled for two days later – and then canceled. Sandy, again.
There was no mass transit and I had a river in my car. It took a ride from a relative and a rental car to get back to Connecticut where I discovered that my house, although without power, is fine. The towering trees around the house – along with a whole mess of dangling electrical wires and a power pole — took a major hit. It’s sad to think of all of the history those beautiful trees have seen. Soon they will be sawdust, or maybe mulch.
I’m very lucky. There are thousands of people who were and remain hugely impacted having lost the roofs over their heads, their businesses, physical memories and mementos of events gone by, and who continue to ride an emotional roller coaster between gratitude for safety and despair for their living conditions and livelihood.
Some of the places that have been so important at various stages of my life: the shorelines of Long Island and Connecticut, Coney Island, the Rockaways – along with the Jersey shore, Hoboken, Staten Island, and so many other neighborhoods and towns all suffered devastating losses.
What is remarkable – and frightening – is the unleashed power of the recent succession of storms. Last year my house was without power for five days courtesy of Hurricane (technically tropical storm) Irene and for four days thanks to the Halloween snowstorm. We were lucky. Some people in my town lost power for nine days.
What’s with the storms and the freakish weather? As I write this there are power crews from Michigan and California working on the power lines outside of my house (finally). I had a long conversation with two power linesman from Michigan – part of the crews from states all over the country. When I said something about needing to be careful about the way we’re treating our environment because of the impact on weather, one of them, with a white beard (obviously not a youngster), shook his head and said – “you bet – but I’m worried it’s too late.”
These are guys who make their living fixing power lines. They respond to emergencies around the country. They see a lot, and they’re worried, too. I sort of expected them to snicker at my environmental concerns, but I was definitely wrong.
Weather And Food
There’s no question that modern life has impacted our environment in negative ways. One negative effect are strange weather patterns. Weather influences many things, among them how we live, communicate, and how we grow and ship our food. We cannot live without life sustaining, nurturing, and comforting food.
One out of the huge number of lessons to be learned – and many have learned it already – is that we need to be acutely attentive to our world and what we do to it – the stuff we put into the ground, the water, and release into the air. Everything we do counts – and every single person’s actions count.
So please think about your physical world and take some individual action – however large or small. Be aware of your potential environmental impact and support or challenge those in a position to make decisions about your environment and your food. It could be your local market and grower; it could be your elected officials; and it could be you, your family, and your neighbors and the way you recycle food and trash.
Think –take action – and teach your children to do the same.