Soon enough we’ll be marking the one year anniversary of the storm that changed everything. The hardship, heartache and overall crap it caused have been well covered but I don’t think anyone has written about how …what’s the word?… fulfilling or invigorating it was for the first couple of weeks after Sandy.
I don’t want to make light of anyone’s loss I’m simply speaking to an unexpected and odd feeling, long since gone. In the immediate aftermath of Sandy there was so much to do. It was a kind of survival mode that few had experienced before. First your eyes had to get used to what you were seeing. And then you had to get to work. You had to find out, pump out, and clear out. You had to hustle because the days were getting shorter and shorter. We were nothing, if not busy.
The odd thing? Personal belongings were washed away but so were petty thoughts and concerns. Does anybody remember that the football Giants lost to the Steelers the following Sunday? You know what we were too busy thinking about? The nor’easter that was heading towards Rockaway. Snow and freezing temperatures were the concerns, not whether you’d watch American Idol or have the time to find out more about General Petraeus’s affair. Yeah, I had to look that up. I don’t remember anything happening outside Rockaway from those days.
You were dragging stuff to the curb. You were tearing down walls and helping neighbors when you could. There was no time for mid-life crisis thoughts or worrying if the kids did their homework; there was no point in planning for the weekend. You didn’t even know what day it was. There was no time for any of those thoughts that in regular everyday life give you stress. You were busy. All you wanted was dry socks.
You didn’t care about what the Yankees or the Mets were going to do in the off-season. You did care about whether there was water in the house. How were you going to get gas to run the generator? Or how were you going to get a generator? Was there enough to eat? What to do if the power doesn’t come back on?
You know what question kept coming up? Somebody would ask: You want to save that? You’d pause. Nah, throw it out.
It could’ve been anything: Furniture, a photo, a favorite pillow, a memory piece that from now on you’d have to store in your mind.
Crisis and a survival mode. You didn’t know it at the time but on some level you realized the basics of life were what mattered. And it felt good to know that.
Soon enough, the hassle stage arrived. Waiting for adjustors and inspectors; waiting for contractors; and starting to think about getting furniture and tiles and new this and new that. Trying to get answers about all sorts of stuff. Did you have to pay for the phone when service was down? What about LIPA?
When you got to the hassle stage – where most of us remain – it’s easy to forget we had it good for a moment. We were busy. And it felt good.