I, like many of you, were very fortunate over this past month.  I was out of the country when Sandy stopped by for a visit.  I live on the UES, so my apartment turned into a B&B for friends who live below 42 Street.
As host to a long-standing Thanksgiving Day dinner, I asked all of my guests to bring something for those visited by Sandy. As a NYC kid, my family and extended family spent many summers at Rockaway Beach and Breezy Point — way before it was trendy.  The younger generation of my family, the 20- and 30-year-olds, have worked cleaning out homes, made hot meals for people who are trying to reclaim their lives, collected and distributed food products, pet food, clothing, personal care items, kids toys and books, tools and whatever else folks might be able to use.  So yesterday, I joined the family and brought all of the donated things from my T-Day guests and helped folks to select what they were in need of at this moment.  I worked with some kids  from AmeriCorps, who really know what they are doing, to sweep, scrub and wipe where I was directed.
It is impossible to comprehend what happened there.  Seeing it in person is so painful.  The devastation that took place is unimaginable… sand piled four stories high, and houses boarded up. Perhaps you pass a house that looks okay until you see the water line and the smashed-in garage doors. Neighbors on a street have banded together to hire these crane/dump trucks to get rid of some of the debris in front of their homes.  All shapes and sizes of folks working to bring back some part of their homes, lives and neighborhoods.
I was in just one community doing one day of work and I’ll probably go back to do more.  I am sure that every community from Long Beach, L.I., to Long Beach Island, NJ, has the same shared experiences.  This is not a story of the minute; the destruction and devastation will be with us for a long time. Although it was only three weeks ago, the media has since moved on, but we need to keep it in the forefront and not spend too much time worried about the news story de jour.  This is our community and our city.   –-kathleen o’grady

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