Sandy blew through here last week on my birthday. All her hellfire and fury were unleashed on us up and down the northeastern coastline. Her equal-opportunity wrath scourged poor and rich alike, and, especially for the poor, continues to inflict pain in her cold and devastating aftermath.
This is my town. It is a sweet Main Street community tucked into a neat little neck of land on the northwestern shores of Long Island. There are massive trees lying on the ground or leaning precariously on power cables, their exposed roots ripped violently from the earth. Lines for gas fill-ups wind down and around the main thoroughfare. Homes without electricity sit dark and dismal in the night. But, as is often the case in storm aftermaths, neighbors come out to greet neighbor, and offers of a hot shower, or a spot by a warm fireplace with a hot bowl of soup abound.
In my town, the local high school – itself without power except for the gasoline fueled generators powering a bit of the sprawling cafeteria - became a community mecca where townsfolk could come, re-charge their cell-phones, have a snack, and share war-stories with their neighbors. After power was restored to the town library and the community center, they too became oases of subdued activity. Despite the havoc wreaked with out lives here, one would be hard-pressed to find any loud complainers. As the power gradually returns, and, along with it, a semblance of normal life, the talk one hears is often of a grateful nature. "What we have been is inconvenienced," is the common thought. "While others on the south shore and Staten Island and New Jersey and other places have experienced real tragedy."
Today is Election Day. I drove early to my assigned polling place, which also happens to be my church. The power is still down there, and, for the first time, I voted using a paper ballot. The volunteers, some of whom also have no power at home and were hoping for a bit of warm respite today, were cheerful and helpful nonetheless. Many of them will sit in that cold cavernous room all day without any percolating urns of hot coffee to keep them going.
This is my town.