Hurricane Sandy is one of the disasters I have lived through in my life. During Sandy, I was living and working in New York City. I am thankful that others have challenged me to be introspective and think about what I have experienced and what can be learned from these experiences. Some of the lessons learned (and how they can be applied to other areas of our lives) are in other articles I have written. What I want to share with you are a few vignettes from within the storm and its aftermath.
As one who does not live in the coastal area of New York City, in fact as one who lives and works on land higher than any of the coastal flood zones, I was not emotionally prepared for the storm. The talk of the storm did not initially trigger its importance on my radar — the pace of life I was leading was occupying me.
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Then things began to hit me — a pre-declaration from FEMA, activation of the REST Team (the mental health part of the Medical Reserve Corps), announced cessation of public transit. This was bigger than I had thought. How had I missed this? I began my shifts volunteering — first with evacuation centers and then with the Air Force Auxiliary.
In the evacuation center, the storm came in. The winds could be heard and even seen in the trees outside. While I was there, I ended up doing more than my role. As I reflect back, this is my nature and this is the way that I have responded to the stress of other crisis situations — engage in what I can do and do it well. During the overnight, most people were asleep. The winds and looking out through the glass took me back to other places I had lived and to much more gentle winds but also times of isolation.
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I was comforted by thoughts of a place I used to go on top of the cliffs by the castle in Wales. It was a place where the weather was often not the best (I know, it was the United Kingdom), but yet it was also a place where I went to connect with God. Knowing God was with the city on this night, I connected while I sat there in case anyone else came walking in.
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