I try not to make a practice of questioning God. He always somehow proves to me He has it all together. But sometimes, it is REALLY, REALLY hard…
Like tonight. I am tired. And I have some nerve saying it. But I am. Tired, and worried – about my family, both immdediate, (like Grandma, who is making physical improvements daily,) and my Staten Island family
We are a week, OK 9 days out from Hurricane Sandy. I STILL know people without power. Gas lines are no longer something you address on your lunch, and those are the minor concerns… the really minor ones.
We are, as I type, being pummelled by a Nor’Easter. There is snow frantically falling. As it falls the trees, shook by last week’s wind are getting heavier. It is only a matter of time before they begin to fall. We are expecting gusts of up to 50 mph tonight.
And all of this would be manageable. If it weren’t for the absolute raw devastation my hometown is trying to endure.
I stayed away from the beach for a week, but yesterday we had the opportunity to do some volunteer work as part of our workday. My trip to Midland Beach was life changing.
I posted the pictures. The ones I saw on the news – of the places I had been. And the streets I had walked. And I thought I had some level of understanding. I was so wrong.
As I drove down Hylan Blvd, and I saw the car windows open on the lot of the dealership, it occurred to me that they had been flooded out. Knowing that they were a good distance from the water my heart really sank. There was a smell of mold, and water in the air. There was dust on the street. There were mile long gas lines. Was this my hometown, or a something out of a war scene?
I turned down New Dorp Lane, towards Miller Field, where my girl played soccer with her friends for a few seasons. We always joked as parents about the chill in the air so close to the water, as we cheered on our “Ladybugs.”
Well it was still cold. And there was no cheering.
The parking lot held a Red Cross truck, with food donations, a warming bus, several other food sites, some insurance vans, and lots of people milling about. Maybe like a movie shoot – except this is real life.
I was looking for my colleagues, who I thought to be closer to the water, so I walked. As I walked I could not help but stare. I thought I had seen the devastation. It wasn’t until I saw – that I was even able to process a FRACTION of the scope of this tragedy. I had no one directly connected to me who lost a home. Friends of friends, sure. It’s Staten Island, and everybody knows someone, but my direct connection was minimal.
As I walked and absorbed what I was seeing. As I let it pierce my subconscious…I felt like I was walking through the middle of someone else’s really bad dream.
On the windows of the houses closest to the beach, were stickers. Red meaning uninhabitable, yellow meaning proceed with caution, and green meaning its ok to occupy. Mind you these were markers of structural soundness with no consideration of water damage. I saw very few green ones.
A few block farther back there were makeshift streetlights, because no one has power. There were police cars, checking ID at the corners to protect these devastated people from looters.
As I got back in my car to head home I took a left instead of a right. I ended up deeply imbedded in sights unlike any I had ever seen. People’s entire lives, on their front lawn. I had to photograph, simply because the reality needed to be shared – with my daughter, and others.
It took a few minutes to get back to the main street. Moving slowly and respectfully as I passed a charging station, tents of water and food, people frantically roofing homes… I prayed.
When I got back to Hylan Boulevard, I crossed over, headed for home. I passed Meghan’s former endocrinologist’s office – supplies in the parking lot – seemingly gutted. The water had devastated far beyond its apparent reach.
There are collections everywhere. At my school, at the church of my youth, seemingly everywhere you turn. Yet I am not sure all the supplies are getting where they need to be. I am not sure who is going to help them. Really help them put their lives back together.
That is one small corner of the loss in my hometown. Had I continued to travel the coast I would have seen similar scenes replayed over and over. God Bless the Sanitation Department for this herculean task. God help us all as we have generated such an excessive amount of trash in such a short time period.
The work day ended then, and I headed to my other life. To pick up my beautiful girl. To visit with my grandma. To vote, and to prepare all things necessary for the next day. In our house we have some sense of normalcy.
Even though our own normal is peppered with Cowden’s Syndrome, illnesses, and scans, and growths, and regrowth – it is our normal. And once again, I would not wish to trade places with ANYONE.
God, seriously though? As I pray for the hearts, and the minds, and the bodies, and the souls, of my fellow Staten Islanders – a snowstorm? Please… help them Lord, to stay safe and warm and dry. Wrap them in a blanket of Your love, and let them be warmed by the power of our prayers, unceasing.