A Community Affair
I'm sitting here now after 48 hours that feel they are directly out of a movie. One of the biggest storms recorded just hit NYC and as I'm sure other are also, I'm still a bit in shock. For some it's been no more of an inconvenience than lost power but for our neighborhood what went from silly "storm" prep hoping for a day off quickly became a live scene I've only ever seen during storms on the news down south. There was at least 5 feet of water outside my building, cars (including ours) was engulfed by the fast flowing water. Homes and businesses were destroyed and people all over the city loosing everything some even their lives. We were lucky to not have any deaths in the low laying close knit Red Hook neighborhood but the damage is devastating. I took a walk around first thing this morning to see where I could offer some helping hands to my neighbors. The first face I ran into was the bodega worker across from our old apartment building, when I asked him how he weathered the storm he said it was "all gone" I had to say "excuse me" thinking I heard wrong and with a somber look he said "we are done, it's all destroyed". And so the day went on like this one business and a lifetime worth of work destroyed while the one next door completely untouched, like mother nature was choosing favorites.
It was surreal walking around today so many with a dazed look on their face. I still don't have cell phone reception and before the internet came back on my only contact with the outside world was twitter. They shut down all the bridges and tunnels last night so essentially if you were on or off the island you weren't going anywhere. Not to mention our van is completely totaled from the water. I have an elderly friend who I've written about on my other blog in the past, he's pretty much my grandfather, the friend I've had the longest in this city and the one I've held the most dear. When he had heart surgery I was there, if I'm ever in need he's there. He's family. I had been trying to reach him all night but my cell phone reception eventually gave out. I went to bed hoping he was OK in the LES only to wake to the pictures of the horribly flooded area that morning. I again with no luck tried my phone, till I turned to twitter. I firstly blindly tweeted without much luck, I then reached out to OWS who were posting about storm support. Justin Wedes got right back to me posting about my friend and a couple people volunteered to stop in and check on him. My heart swells thinking of these wonderful people offering up help to a stranger. THIS wonderful woman made it into manhattan, checked on my friend, and reported back to me his safety. I will eternally be grateful.
As G went down for a nap today I also wanted to get out and help. Pay it forward. I again turned to twitter and right as I looked again Justin tweeted about a group that needed as many hands as possible to help only three blocks from my place. I left G with my friend and headed out. I helped for a couple hours pushing oil filled water with brooms and moving soggy boxes out of a local non profit. The woman who ran it was so thankful, again someone seeing their lives work in shambles but this time there was a group of local strangers there all helping, easing the disaster. She was so thankful and moved.
And this my friends is why Occupy will not die, this is why it has and will continue to be a success. It has created a way for socially concerned people to connect, to help, and to create a better world. Even people like myself who has never been socially active before. I know these two things I write about here are very small in the grand scheme of things, a couple people helping a couple other people but what that woman did for me today checking on my friend meant the world to me. I will remember her help she offered up forever and it motivates me to be a better person, just as I hope I did for the people over at the non profit today.
It's not going to be easy but I truly believe enough of these small actions, enough people like myself learning HOW and that they CAN help the world around them through organizations like Occupy will create the change we all want to see happen one little piece at a time.
I'm proud to be an occupier, I'm proud to stand with other people who identify as occupiers, and we WILL change the world.